Best DSL Modems

Best DSL Modems of 2017

Are you losing a few pretty pennies per month because you’re using (better yet, renting) your Internet Service Provider’s modem and router? Most of us are, so don’t feel bad! That’s why we’re excited to discuss the best DSL modems on the market with you!

It will be an investment, initially, but you’ll soon get your money’s worth! You should easily be able to use a good modem for five or more years.

Model Key Features Ratings More Information
Actiontec GT784WN Modem/router
802.11N
Max. avg. speed = 24 Mbps
ADSL2+ support
Firewall with SPI
4.8 out of 5

For more information, click here!
TP-Link TD-8816 Modem/router
802.1p
Max. avg. speed = 24 Mbps
ADSL2+ support
Firewall with NAT & SPI
4.6 out of 5

For more information, click here!
NETGEAR DM200-100NAS Modem only
Max. avg. speed = 40 Mbps
Non-bonded ADSL, ADSL2, ADSL2+, VDSL, and VDSL2 support
Firewall with DoS
4.5 out of 5

For more information, click here!
D-Link DSL-520B Modem/router
802.1p/q
Max. avg. speed = 24 Mbps
ADSL, ADSL2, and ADSL2+ support
Firewall with SPI & NAT
4.4 out of 5

For more information, click here!
NETGEAR Nighthawk (D7000) Modem/router
802.11ac
Max. avg. speed = 40 Mbps
ADSL, ADSL2, ADSL2+, VDSL, and VDSL2 support
SPI, NAT, & DoS
4.3 out of 5

For more information, click here!

The Dish on DSL

Before we get our hands dirty and buy a new modem, let’s go over a few things. There are various forms of DSL (Digital Subscriber Lines) and it’s best to understand what you’re dealing with or looking for!

First of all, if you’re thinking about installing any of this yourself, you’ll need to research whether or not your equipment and wiring will need a DSL filter.

  • Cable Internet has the capability of performing faster than DSL but there are still some service issues that need to be addressed. Many ISPs might not inform you that living in a congested community can negatively affect your connectivity.

We happen to enjoy DSL connectivity ourselves! It simply wouldn’t have been fair to fail to mention the fact that there are many wonderful cable companies with lightning-fast Internet.

It will be beneficial to ask your provider there is a speed cap on your bandwidth if you need to work from home!

DSL Internet is rapidly evolving thanks to current technology. It used to be pretty slow and laggy… quite an inconvenience if you had a lot of work to do from home or if you just wanted to play games online with friends. Now, you don’t just get whatever you get. You can typically expect to receive bandwidth numbers between 128Kbps and 3Mbps.

Companies have learned that home users expect faster downloads and business users expect to be able to upload things at higher speeds.

Your ISP can suggest the best option for you or tell you what you’re currently subscribing to. You can easily find trustworthy sites that are able to test your personal Internet speed if you don’t know how; many ISPs have this option on their websites.

Back to the Basics

Many of us are familiar with modems, telephone lines, and local-area network connections. DSL offers high-speed Internet while enabling you to receive calls on your home phone. (Remember when that was nearly impossible unless you were willing to pay tons of money?!)

DSL modems are also known as transceivers. We need these to receive and send data through the DSL line.

Acronym & abbreviation key:

  • ATM = Asynchronous Transfer Mode
  • DHCP = Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol
    • IP address assignment
  • DoS = Denial of Service
  • Gbps = gigabits per second
  • GHz = gigahertz
  • GUI = graphical user interface
    • visual tools used for interaction
  • ISP = Internet Service Provider
  • IPv6 = Internet Protocol Version 6
  • Kbps = kilobits per second
  • LAN = Local Area Network
  • Mbps = megabits per second
    • These are both units of measurement useful for estimating the speed of data transferred over the Internet (bandwidth).
  • MIMO = multiple-input, multiple output
    • antenna technology necessary in maximizing data speed and keeping errors at a minimum
  • NAT = Network Address Translation
    • where multiple computers can use the same IP on one LAN
  • PPPoA = Point-to-Point Protocol over ATM
    • the specifications for this came from the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force)
    • hardware-based functionality
  • PPPoE = Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet
    • software-based functionality
  • QoS = Quality of Service
  • RIP = Routing Information Protocol
  • SPI = Stateful Packet Inspections 
    • a router can keep track of websites accessed and attempts of attack toward your system with these
  • UPnP = Universal Plug-and-Play
    • allows computers on the same network to share data
  • VoIP = Voice over Internet Protocol
    • placing a phone call on the internet without a regular phone line is possible because of this technology

Static content filtering allows browser access blocking against specific keywords.

When it comes to bandwidth, many connections should be able to support data transfer speeds of 50 or 60Mbps but generally achieve much lower speeds.

  • DSL will be symmetric or asymmetric.
    • Symmetric DSL (SDSL) is favorable amongst businesses.  Instead of focusing primarily on download rate, SDSL focuses equally on download and upload rates.
    • Asymmetric DSL (ADSL, ADSL2, & ADSL2+) is given to most residential Internet users. This version of DSL can handle a lot of downloaded data.

ADSL, ADSL2, and ADSL2+ modems are what we’ll be focusing on the most in this review since they’re efficient for small business owners to use as well as residential users. Some of these modems can be used as simple transceivers or as a combination of networking equipment.

  • In most scenarios, you probably won’t see downstream speeds much higher than 1.5 to 8 Mbps.
    • Some ADSL2 connections can achieve speeds of 12 Mbps as well as some ADSL2+ connections can achieve 24 Mbps! (Talk about a huge difference!)
      • If you live further than 7 thousand feet away from your ISP’s communications box and you know how to tweak your own connection on an ADSL line, initiate G.DMT mode!
    • One downfall with an ADSL connection is the fact that fiber optic cables will make it basically impossible to use. These types of connections need strong, metal (preferably copper) wiring.

In the late 1990s, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) set the first standard for developing WLANs (wireless local area networks). The magic number is 802.11 and has since gained and gone through many extensions.

There’s plenty more information available online explaining how this number works and how it came to be! It gets a little too technical for our liking but if you enjoy learning complex things we highly recommend looking into it!

Briefly, let’s discuss modern wireless networking and DSL connections:

Today, we’re more familiar with letter variations for wireless devices. We tend to see routers advertising Wireless N, G, AC. Almost all WiFi connections run on 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies.

2.4GHz bands can cover more space but speeds will suffer. There are only 11 channels for 2.4GHz devices to connect to. Multiple household devices use this frequency band and could overcrowd the signal.

5GHz bands can’t reach as far but they provide faster downloads than 2.4GHz bands. There are 23 channels that 5GHz devices can connect to so, for now, you’re less likely to experience overcrowding and frequency interruptions.

Not all of these channels are available in every region so you might want to call your ISP if you feel like switching channels!

Wireless N (802.11N) devices are built to transfer data at a potential rate of 450 Mbps (if using 3 antennas) or 300 Mbps (if using 2 antennas). You’re likely to experience speeds of 130 Mbps on average when multiple devices are connected. These will often be capable of operating at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Fun fact: 802.11N devices are generally backward compatible with the nearly-nonexistent 802.11B devices… which means you may get a device that can’t reach anywhere near the previously mentioned speeds.

Wireless G (802.11G) devices only support transfer rates approaching 54 Mbps. These can’t usually support two bands and run on the 2.4GHz band. If you’re on a tight budget and have minimal needs to be met, wireless G isn’t a bad decision. They’re built to combine features from 802.11A and 802.11B.

Wireless AC (802.11AC) is the newest addition to networking and supports dual-band technology. A newborn in the age of Internet consumption, Wireless AC devices hit the shelves around 2013. Can you guess how much data it can transfer? Up to 1 Gbps (gigabit per second) on a 5GHz band or around 450 Mbps on a 2.4GHz band.

◊ Compared to Wireless N, Wireless AC typically has intense strength in terms of connectivity and coverage. These will generally cost more but, if you live in a heavily-populated area and have many video streams initiated at once, it wouldn’t hurt to look into a router or modem that supports 802.11AC!

  • VDSL, also known as very high bit-rate DSL, can support smart TVs and possible speeds of 52 Mbps. The catch, you ask? It won’t work from a long distance.
  • RADSL (rate-adaptive DSL) modems tend to have adjustable connection speeds if the phone line reaches the appropriate length and consists of the proper material.
  • ISDN DSL (Integrated Services Digital Network & DSL) can be installed in remote areas that have a hard time getting DSL. It’s a little slower than a DSL line but it reaches a lot further. (Try 6 miles compared to an average of 18,000 feet or less for standard DSL lines).
  • Uni-DSL (Universal DSL) modems are an up-and-coming thing. TI (Texas Instruments) is to thank for this new option. It tries to find a happy-medium between VDSL and standard ADSL. If you’re in the right area and have the chance to experience Uni-DSL, you may even witness download speeds 3 times faster than VDSL! (That’s fast!)

If you live too far from the provider’s DSLAM (DSL Access Multiplexer) you can’t expect to have lightning-speed connectivity. You could be so far from the hub, switch, or bridge that DSL is not available where you live. Be sure to check around!

Stay near the modem and router, check the WiFi connectivity on your computer, and use anti-spyware technology to ensure a faster experience as well.

Spyware is all around (it isn’t all bad) and it can hinder your data transfers by sending targeted advertisements to most platforms you’ll open. Think about all the personalized ads we’ve become familiar with on social media and other websites that we may actually want to click on — that’s what targeted advertising entails.

If you live in a small, heavily populated area, you might have connectivity issues because you’re likely sharing a network loop… which can only handle so much traffic. There’s not much you can do in this situation except contact your ISP and request a performance upgrade.

A lot of this has to do with the phone wiring in your area. Your phone line and its composition influence speed. High-quality copper wiring allows for quicker DSL speeds.

Our Favorite DSL Modems

We chose to review both modem/router bundles and plain, old modems. Some dual kits were too sweet to skip! We’ll explain the key features of each one as we go.

If you’re familiar with our reviews, you’ve probably noticed that this collection is smaller than our others… that’s because we didn’t find enough models that supported the features we were searching for.

Don’t hold back from doing your own research if you have different needs!

We think it’s important for you to realize that some of the DSL modems we discuss may need configuration and customization in order to maximize functionality.

Actiontec GT784WN

  • The Actiontec GT784WN has all the features we found most important in a good DSL modem/router combo.
  • This device supports 802.11N technology which means you can use older devices with this or newer ones.
  • ADSL2+ is supported by this modem.
    • That means you can bump up your modem’s performance speeds from 8 Mbps to 24 Mbps! With all-new technology, you can approach 300 Mbps.
  • The GT784WN is a great choice for anyone in an apartment complex whose ISP can support this device.
  • Along with offering you the ability to watch videos basically uninterrupted, you can enjoy your peace of mind with the GT784WN’s firewall.
    • The firewall includes SPI. These protect you from unwarranted visitors more than installing one antivirus program onto your computer does by supporting encryptions, denial of service, content filtering, and more.
  • It has 4 Ethernet ports and 1 ADSL port.
  • Features a MIMO smart antenna & TR-069 support. TR-069 allows remote management.
  • Automatically configure your GT784WN by hooking it up, pulling up your browser, and using auto-detect.
    • No pesky CDs required to begin using this bundle… and we love it!
  • Receive unlimited tech support and a limited warranty with this purchase.

TP-Link TD-8816

  • The TP-Link TD-8816 supports a wide range of features for a reasonable price.
    • Annex M, DHCP, IPv6, UPnP, & wired-sharing are amongst these!
  • The Setup Wizard will help you start your network easily. Included with your purchase should be a CD, too.
  • The TD-8816 has 6KV lightning protection in place. Most devices that are fairly affordable will be lucky to receive 4KV lightning protection.
  • The router has a built-in firewall that allows NAT.
    • Parental protection is possible, too.
  • As an administrator on your account, you can control the bandwidth for each PC.
  • A two-year warranty and tech support for its lifetime means you can sleep soundly!
  • This is a two-in-one modem that works well with other routers (in case you don’t like the one that’s built into the TP-8816).
    • For people using home phones, this is a nice choice because it allows a phone line to be connected as well.

NETGEAR DM200-100NAS

  • The NETGEAR DM200 is a modem (which can be configured to work as a router, too) that works with ADSL and VDSL.
    • Make sure you don’t have bonded DSL and that your ISP is supported.
  • Not only is the DM200 cost-efficient but it is compact, as well!
    • None of the dimensions exceed nine inches in measurement and it weighs less than two pounds.
  • There is a limited, one-year warranty available upon purchase and request.
    • For 90 days (after purchase), you should have access to basic tech support.
  • If you live in the right area, you could have the chance to experience a download rate of 200 Mbps!
    • You’ll have to set things up properly but if you’re able to, why not?
    • If you don’t feel like fiddling with it, you’ll be happy to hear 24 to 40 Mbps is the average download speed.
  • Smart Wizard setup without the need for a CD.
    • Thoroughly read through the user’s manual and refer to the guide and video before installation for best results.
  • A phone filter should be included in the package (for those of us still using landlines).
    • Many good modems and routers will come with a filter but some will not. Read carefully!
  • There’s not much going on in terms of built-in security… The modem does support DoS on its own, though.

D-Link DSL-520B

  • The D-Link DSL-520B is a modem with the ability to function as a router simultaneously.
  • Unlike some of our other choices, this does not support VDSL connections.
    • It does, however, support ADSL, ADSL2, and ADSL2+.
    • With ADSL, you can download data anywhere from 8 to 24 Mbps on average.
  • This modem offers built-in protection with SPI and NAT.
    • The QoS allows several priority queues to be up and running in the same location. (Ideal for Internet-oriented families or roommates).
  • There is one ADSL port and one Ethernet port.
  • You should be able to enjoy a limited, one-year warranty on this DSL modem.
  • For the price, this is an impressive find. There is a “newer” model available but that functions primarily as a router.

NETGEAR Nighthawk (D7000)

  • The NETGEAR Nighthawk functions as both a modem and a router.
    • It features a 1GHz dual-core processor, allowing you to achieve insanely fast download speeds.
  • It supports Wireless AC.
    • ADSL, ADSL2, ADSL2+, VDSL, and VDSL2 are compatible.
  • Three antennas make it easier to access WiFi throughout your home despite your distance from the device.
  • Since this device features more coverage it should be standard to expect downloads to be done quickly, right?
    • Right. You’re likely to see your ISP’s advertised download rates with this modem. (Typically 8-40 Mbps).
    • If you’re willing to tweak the device’s settings, you would be able to see speeds approaching 1900 Mbps!
  • The Nighthawk has four Ethernet ports (10/100/1000 Mbps), one ADSL/VDSL port, and two USB ports.
  • You will receive tech support for approximately ninety days after purchasing this modem and a limited, one-year warranty.
  • You can use the genie App to control your network on-the-go!
    • With this, you can monitor the data usage, set parental controls, and find files on your network.

 Our Final Thoughts

There are obviously more extensive, capable DSL modems and routers available. We enjoy the simplicity of these with the cooperation of our ISPs and our willingness to make things meet our needs!

When you’re well-read on a subject and you gain access to a piece of it, you’re capable of an impressive amount of things! You are almost totally in control of your experience online. It is a bit too much for us to dive into in this particular post because we specialize in reviewing things we like… but if you already have (or can gain) your own collection of information on how to modify things you can be on top of the online world!

Seriously, though, with a little bit of exposure and practice, you can witness downloading speeds that are almost unfathomable compared to an average user’s experience.

That being said, we want to take a moment to recall our favorite two DSL modems.

The Actiontec GT784WN is our first choice because it features Wireless N networking and can function as a router at the same time. The fact that it’s easy to witness 24 Mbps download rates makes it even easier… but we realize this isn’t an ideal speed for most people.

That’s where the NETGEAR DM200 comes in. It can support VDSL technology (as long as it isn’t bonded) and it doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount of money! It might be a little tougher to figure out than some of the others we’ve talked about but it’s well worth the struggle if your ISP supports this device. It, as we’ve mentioned, will cost less than most other options and is pretty up to date in terms of technology.

If you’re willing to deal with a bulkier display, the D-Link AC3200 isn’t a bad choice. We didn’t mention it in this post because it doesn’t function as a DSL modem on its own. It does, however, work as a router and has 6 antennas… you can imagine the coverage you’d get with something like that, right?!

Anyway, we were pretty happy to look into all five of our choices and we hope you find what you’re looking for!

Modem/router combinations have apparently been adjusted in terms of quality since they first came out. They truly were not one of the better options to go with in the past but they’ve made their mark in the modern world and we’ve grown pretty fond of them!

Thank you for learning about DSL modems with us! Happy shopping!

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