Your DSL modem is the bridge between your device and the wonderful world of the internet. Without one, there’s simply no way to get online, so say goodbye to your Insta feed, get your Twitter account in order, shut down that FB page…you’re off the grid.
The annoying thing is that when you’re ready to get back into cyberspace, no two DSL modems are the same. Some are amazing, while some are, well…not so amazing, and if your major was anything other than computer science, differentiating between the good, the bad, and the downright ugly, can seem like an impossible task.
But don’t lament that Philosophy degree, friend. You worked hard for that. Besides, we’ve done the legwork for you and found five of the best DSL modems you can buy.
You’ve been starved of internet for long enough, you poor thing, so let’s not beat around the bush. We’re going to jump straight into our reviews. Let’s get you connected!
How We Picked
As the one thing between you and your beloved internet, we know you’ll want to be confident that you’re choosing a product that’s not going to let you or your Wi-Fi connection down.
That’s why we take such effort with researching and selecting products for our reviews, because we only want to recommend things our readers will really love. Firstly, we wanted to include products with a range of prices so that there’s something suitable for every budget.
We also considered factors such as internet speed and bandwidth, whether or not it offers dual or single-band Wi-Fi, durability, and cyber security, because internet safety is of paramount importance if you’re spending a lot of time online.
So, now that you know how we picked the following products, let’s get into the juicy stuff. It’s time for the reviews.
Best DSL Modem in 2021
24MBps Download Speeds
This TP-Link masterpiece is the product of ADSL2+ technology, meaning you can enjoy a maximum download speed of 24MBps, which is enough to download and update a large game in under a day.
It’s an asymmetrical unit which means upload speeds aren’t quite as juiced, but as it’s Annex M enabled, you can effectively double upstream data speeds when necessary.
With not one, not two, but three firewalls in place, there’s no need to worry about cyber intruders and internet attacks. Your connections and personal details are safe and sound.
Despite this modem’s power, it’s a total breeze to install. Just follow the step-by-step instructions provided by the included Setup Wizard, and you’ll be surfing the data wave in no time at all.
A 2-in1 creation, this modem has an integrated router, so you can forget about making separate purchases. All you need is a DSL connection and this slick machine!
Featuring Netgear’s proprietary Beamforming +, the D6200 is one of the best DSL modems you can buy to max out wifi connections across a number of devices. If you’ve got a kid that enjoys gaming in their bedroom, a partner that likes surfing the web in bed, and you enjoy a solid doom scrolling session in the living room, this is the device for you.
Furthermore, the dual-band simultaneous signals ensure those superfast wifi connections remain stable no matter how data-heavy your applications get. Speaking of speed, as the D6200 is loaded with 802.11ac technology, you can expect wifi data transfer rates as high as 867MBps. That’s roughly 9 times faster than you’d need for a seamless game of Modern Warfare.
It’s an ADSL2+ device, which is the fastest asymmetrical DSL connection currently available, and thanks to the gigabit WAN connectivity, it’s future proofed for when you wish to upgrade to fiber broadband.
The D6200 also has immaculate security protocols including WPA and WPA2 encryption, so no unwelcome guests can access your data or connections – let’s all breathe one collective sigh of relief.
600MBps 2.4GHz and 1300MBps 5GHz
Here we have another dual-band dynamo primed and ready to improve your online life. Let’s talk about speed first because it’s so impressive, it’s hard to think about anything else. Across the 2.6 and 5GHz bands, this modem is capable of supporting a maximum data transfer rate of 1900MBps, which is fast enough for literally any online activity be it gaming, content creation, streaming, or all of the above.
It’s a lightweight and low profile design, a rarity in high-powered modems, so we really appreciate that. Performance information is all clearly displayed via the light array on the panel, and the neutral yet modern aesthetic fits right into any environment.
Unbeknownst to the uninitiated, the C7000 has three internal antennas that ensure you get decent saturation out of the wifi signal, so feel free to spread your wings. Stream a show in bed, play a strategy game in the kitchen; it’s so powerful, you may even get a signal in your yard.
We only have two small hangups with this modem. Firstly, we struggled to hit the maximum advertised wired data rates (although it still had some major zip), and secondly, we’d like to have seen MU-MIMO connectivity at this price point.
Dual Firewalls and WPA/WPA2/WEP
The PK5001z may not be overflowing with extra features, but its fundamentals are on par with much pricier units. Supporting both VDSL2 and ADSL2+ connections, you don’t have to worry so much about compatibility with this device; it should work fine with any CenturyLink service.
Featuring an integrated N-300 wireless router, the PK is your one-stop internet solution – no separate router necessary. You can expect wireless connection speeds as high as 300MBps, which is fairly decent for a budget 2-in-1 unit, but coverage could be better.
Stylistically speaking, it’s nothing to sing about. Neither drawing attention, nor completely fading into the background, it looks like a bog-standard modem, but it’s wonderfully simple to install, which is a trade we’d make any day of the week.
Power users will inevitably be a little underwhelmed by the lack of network options you can tinker with, but realistically, those kinds of users will be heading further up-market for their modems anyway.
The user-friendly interface, Gigabit Ethernet, dual firewalls, and WPA/WPA2/WEP encryption will be more than enough to put a smile on the average consumer’s face.
Not too long ago, the N600 was one of the fastest modems you could buy, and it’s a testament to the quality of this device that it’s still landed a spot on our list today.
With a theoretical throughput of 300MBps and a real-life throughput of just under half that figure, it’s powerful enough to support online gaming, most creative workflows, and general usage.
It also features Gigabit Ethernet, so if the wireless speeds don’t cut the mustard for you, simply plug in and enjoy a superfast and stable connection.
Installation was fine for us, but we can imagine it being a somewhat baffling process for those that aren’t so tech-savvy.
In terms of pure cosmetics, we have to admit, this thing looks pretty slick. The gloss black enclosure and blue display panel are very pleasing to the eye, and it arrives with a stand enabling you to choose between horizontal and vertical orientations.
Things To Consider
Responsible for connecting the physical realm with an entirely digital and ethereal online plane, modems aren’t exactly simple things. So, just to make sure you find the right DSL modem for you, we thought it’d be a good idea to run over their core qualities in an intuitive manner.
What Type of DSL Modem Are You After?
You’d be forgiven for thinking a modem is a modem, and that’s that. But there are actually three different kinds to choose from, each with its own properties. Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of each one.
VDSL stands for very high bit-rate digital subscriber line. If you have a fiber optic or copper wire phone lines, it utilizes these materials to the very peak of their potential, amounting to superfast upload and download speeds.
On the other hand, as VDSL is a fairly new technology, it has relatively limited availability. Rural residential areas, in particular, may not be able to use a VDSL modem, as physical distance from the provider can limit performance. Due to the lightning-fast network connection, VDSL is also far more expensive than the other forms of DSL modem.
An acronym for symmetrical digital subscriber line, SDSL modems have identical upload and download speeds, offering a very even performance in terms of bandwidth. Simply put, those videos you’re uploading to your burgeoning YouTube account will travel at the same speed as the movie you’re downloading to watch after.
Standing for asymmetrical digital subscriber line, an ADSL modem provides mismatched upload and download speeds. One will always be faster than the other.
Before we get into the good stuff like connection speeds and dual-band wifi, we must think about modem compatibility. Not all modems work with all internet provider’s services. It’s irritating we know, needlessly complex, sure, but it’s just the way things are.
If the seller’s page doesn’t elucidate what companies the modem is compatible with, it’s a good idea to contact your ISP and ask. Failing that, head on over to a friend or family member’s house that does have internet access and check your ISP’s website for compatibility lists.
Your Internet Service Is Already Agreed Upon
A common misconception about modems and routers is that buying an all-singing-all-dancing mega-machine will boost your network connection to mythological heights, but sadly, that’s not the case.
A modem can only facilitate speeds up to what’s been agreed upon by your ISP. In light of this, rather than wasting money on a modem with capacity that won’t be used, try to find one with bandwidth that matches your internet service.
Internet Speed and Bandwidth - Killing the Myth
Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they are not synonymous with one another. Picture a garden hose. The water pressure or speed of the water traveling through it can be thought of as your connection speed, while the size of the hose is the bandwidth. A bigger hose means more water, but not necessarily that the water is traveling any faster than it was through the small hose. Bandwidth provides a perceptual increase in speed when really, the data is moving at the same rate it always was.
As mentioned earlier, the parameters of your network connection are defined by your ISP rather than your modem, so you’ll need to match them up to make the most of the connection.
Dual vs Single-Band Wifi
Normally, modems and routers broadcast a single wifi signal. It’s okay, but as consumer demands have intensified, dual-band units have become the standard. These kinds of devices broadcast two wifi signals simultaneously. They offer greater connection stability, flexibility, and juiced speeds.
If you only really use your network connection for standard things such as surfing the web, doing a bit of shopping, perhaps streaming a few tunes, you shouldn’t need a dual-band modem. If, on the other hand, you’re an avid online gamer or engage in a lot of data-heavy internet tasks, you should definitely invest in a dual-band device.
You can never be too careful these days. Cybercriminals are capable of some pretty heinous deeds, so to keep them at bay and protect your personal information and wifi signal, you’ll need a modem that has at least a firewall and WPA/WPA2 encryption.
We’ve all accidentally knocked a modem from its perch before, and it’s bound to happen again. If you want to get your money’s worth out of a modem, it’s worth shopping around for one with a robust build.
Do They Still Make DSL Modems?
Yep, DSL modems aren’t quite relics just yet. They’re still widely produced by a number of popular manufacturers such as Netgear and TP-Link.
How Do I Choose a DSL Modem?
The aim of the game when choosing a DSL modem is to match up its abilities with your internet service, but first, make sure the prospective modem is compatible with your ISP. For more advice, see our buyer’s guide above.
Are DSL Modems Faster Than Others?
Both DSL and cable network connections are way faster than dial-up, but as far as crowning a winner between them, it can’t really be done. One will be faster than the other in certain situations, while the other will dominate in alternative scenarios.
Are DSL Modems All the Same Speed?
Not all DSL modems are alike. Some will facilitate much faster and wider internet connections than others, especially when it comes to wifi.
Is a DSL Modem the Same as a Cable Modem?
The difference between a DSL modem and a cable modem is that the DSL unit is hooked up directly to your phone line, while a cable modem connects to the network via your TV box.
Although cable connections tend to have a wider bandwidth, it’s stretched across your area, reducing perceived transfer speeds.
DSL provides an exclusive connection to your house, so even though they’re technically slower than cable connections, as you don’t have to share bandwidth with your neighbors, they’re often the fastest option of the two.
What Does DSL Mean on Modem?
DSL stands for digital subscriber line, meaning the modem in question will connect your devices to the digital subscriber line you’ve agreed upon with your internet service provider.
That’s all from us, folks. Was there a modem on our list that caught your eye? We’re certain there’s something for everyone here, from the power users to the online shoppers, from the hardcore gamers to the content creators.
As long as you heed the advice in our buyer’s guide and always keep the deal you’ve made with your ISP in mind, picking out the right one for you should be a doddle. All that’s left to do is give you a big, warm PC Guide welcome back to the internet!