To match modem/router vendors or to not match?
January 17, 2007 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Is there any advantage to having a router and cable modem made by the same company, or is it better to go best of breed in both cases regardless of maker?

Quick version:
Buy a Linksys cable modem to work in concert with a Linksys router due to same-brand advantages you will list for me, or instead get a more highly recommended Motorola modem. Which to do and why?

I'm getting cable internet. Going to buy my own modem and wirless router rather than get either through Comcast. From all I've read, the Linksys WRT54G has long been the favorite basic home router, especially amongst those who like to use alternate/better firmware, and still exists now in the form of the WRT54GL. So I'm set on getting that - not looking for other recommendations.

I figured since I was getting a Linksys router that I ought to get a Linksys modem because... I don't know, maybe they play nicer together than different brands would. Maybe they're made that way and tested that way and maybe configuration and intercommunication work more easily. So I figured I'd get their BEFCMU10 EtherFast Cable Modem. I've never heard anyone recommend it unsolicited but reviews seem OK. What I have heard raves about over and over is the Motorola SB5100, now doing business as the SB5120. Though small differences have been noted, it still seems to be le bomb and is known to play nicely with Comcast and be support-friendly from their perspective.

One advantage I can think of for having the same brand of router and modem is the support angle. There's nothing worse than one company saying, "That's a modem issue, we can't help you with that" and the other company saying "That's a router issue, we can't help you with that". So that might be nice, so I don't lose all my hair.

But are there any other technical or ease-of-use advantages? Or, given the resounding praise for these two units from different makers, would you advise going with that mixed setup regardless of any disadvantages stemming from different makers?

note: don't care about aesthetics of having color coordinated boxes, or about tidy stackability.

note: don't want an all-in-one box
posted by kookoobirdz to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
I would think there's no advantage in going with just the one manufacturer; the output from your modem (and input into the router) is Ethernet, and that's a pretty basic, standard, homogeneous technology right now.

If you're doing troubleshooting of one or the other, it's pretty simply to pin down the bad one anyway - just unplug the router and plug your computer directly into the modem. So I wouldn't think that would be an issue, either.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 9:58 AM on January 17, 2007

I see no reason for you to go with the same brands. If the motorola is getting good reviews for playing nicely with comcast, then get it. I've been running a WRT54 for years without any trouble, paired with both a motorola..something cable modem, and a couple of no-name dsl modems, all without issues. Both technologies are mature enough that the major bugs have been worked out.
posted by defcom1 at 10:00 AM on January 17, 2007

I can't imagine that it'll make any real difference whether the devices are the same brand.
posted by Good Brain at 10:01 AM on January 17, 2007

No reason to go with both. And I've had a lot of problems with Linksys's consumer-level gear lately (WRT54GL excepted), so frankly I would avoid buying any more of their stuff than necessary. (I just last week took back a WRT54G v5 and talked to a few people who suggested that their return rate on newly-designed gear was astronomically high.)

As long as the cable modem has Ethernet and doesn't have any silly proprietary features, there's no reason to stick with one brand. The only benefit you'd get from going with the same company is that the boxes would probably stack nicely.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:19 AM on January 17, 2007

I love my WRT54GL. I've never considered getting a cable modem other than the one RoadRunner sent me. Really, is there that much of a difference among them?
posted by mkultra at 11:12 AM on January 17, 2007

N-th'ing the "it can't possibly matter one bit" crowd. And I'll even add that the model/brand of modem matters a heck of a lot less than you seem to be making it out to. They all follow DOCSIS standard, so there's really not much difference.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:08 PM on January 17, 2007

I have the cable modem provided by my ISP just so they can never say, "well, it must be a problem with your cable modem." That's the worst kind of tech support finger pointing if you ask me.
posted by advicepig at 1:47 PM on January 17, 2007

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