DSL Modem/Wifi router combos are a great way to simplify your network. They take out the need for having two separate products and instead combine both your router and your modem into one simple device.
Top 3 DSL Combo Router Picks
Scroll below to take a more in-depth look at these routers. The links above will take you over to Amazon
Read on to find out what the advantages and disadvantages are of a DSL router, as well as a rundown of some recommended router combos on the market.
Why Use a DSL Modem Router Combo?
Advantages of a DSL Combo Router
ISPs often charge you to rent a modem from them. By buying your own modem/router you may be able to forgo the rental fee charged to you every month by your ISP. While it may seem more expensive at first, over the course of your contract (and even past your contract - as you will be able to keep your modem after it is finished), you may find that you have been able to save some money.
As well as saving money on modem rental fees, you will potentially also be able to save money on a router. Buying a combo product means you only have to purchase one device. Which, depending on what grade router you are after, and the specific product(s) you choose, means you could save some of your hard earned cash.
Buying a combo product means that you save space and have a simpler network overall. By combining both products in one box, you are cutting a link out of your network which means there is one less thing to worry about and one less device that could go wrong.
As well as this, physically having one less device taking up space in your house means you will be able to save some space for the other products you undoubtedly have in your office.
As your modem and router are both part of the same device, you know there will be absolutely no compatibility issues (between the modem and router we mean. Remember to check with your ISP that you can use your own gear!).
This can help with everything from making the set up easier, to making troubleshooting your network a simpler process. When troubleshooting your connection, you'll only need to test the one device and/or the wires going into and out of the device.
Disadvantages of a Combo Router
Of course there are some disadvantages to owning a combined product.
If you want to buy a top of the range router with all the latest features, a DSL modem/router combo isn't going to be the way to go. Don;t get us wrong, there are some good combos on the market, just don't expect tri band and MU-MIMO for example.
DSL combo products routers just haven't kept up with the pace of router-only kit sadly.
If your device breaks you will find that you have to completely replace both the modem and the router components. However, if you own a separate router and modem you can simply replace the broken device and keep the working one.
This is the same for if you want to upgrade your network. If you decide you want a router with more advanced features you will have to either buy a new modem/router combo or buy two new separate products. Because of this, it can be worth thinking about the type of features you will want from your router in the future when buying your combo product.
What’s The Difference Between a Wireless AC and Wireless N DSL Router?
DSL modem/router combos are commonly available using both the Wireless AC and the Wireless N standard. Wireless AC is the newer of the two standards, and becoming more and more popular, while Wireless N is older but cheaper and fairly widespread.
As the newer standard, Wireless AC offers quicker theoretical data speeds than Wireless N. Wireless AC offers speeds of up to 2600Mbps (on a single band) while wireless n offers speeds of up to 450Mbps. This is quite a difference and you will likely notice a big increase in speed when using 802.11ac to transfer files on your network.
In the real world, actual speeds are, as a good rule of thumb, somewhere between 40% & 60% of the advertised theoretical total.
Channels & Beamforming
802.11ac uses the 5GHz channel, while 802.11n wifi uses both the 2.4GHz channel and the 5GHz channel. While it may seem like 802.11n wifi, therefore, has an advantage, that is not necessarily the case.
Firstly, some 802.11ac devices use beamforming to direct the wifi signal straight to your device. This can give you a stronger signal when further from your router.
While beamforming was available on 802.11n, it never really took off due to a lack of standardisation. This meant two products that supported beamforming wouldn’t necessarily work together efficiently.
On 802.11ac wifi, however, this was changed and now all beamforming supported 802.11ac devices use the same beamforming standard.
Secondly, while Wireless N routers did use the 5GHz band, 802.11ac uses the band to get much faster data transfer speeds with its newer technology. Remember that Wireless AC routers are backward compatible with Wireless N, and so will all be dual band.
Of course, as it is a newer technology 802.11ac routers are generally slightly more expensive than 802.11n routers. Having said that, as it has now been out for a few years, there are some more affordable products out there.
One thing to check before you buy an 802.11ac modem/router is that you have or plan to have products that will take advantage of the speeds on offer. Basically, if your device is only set up to use 802.11n then you will gain no advantage from the 802.11ac router.
Top 5 Best Wireless DSL Combo Routers
Netgear Nighthawk D7000 AC1900 Wi-Fi VDSL/ADSL Modem Router
- This router uses the 802.11ac standard for quick data speeds.
- Beamforming technology and three antennas for a strong signal even far from your router.
- Comes with the Netgear Genie app to allow you to easily manage your home network.
The Netgear Nighthawk series is one that frequently turns up on our 'best of' lists and this one is clearly no exception. As with the other products, this is an excellent device that offers some high-end features to make your network as quick as possible.
It is dual-band and comes with four Ethernet ports for your cabled devices. It also has a range of features like Beamforming and three adjustable antennas that mean you should be able to get a good connection even further from the router.
It has a stylish black design that won’t look out of place wherever you choose to put it and its build quality is pretty stellar.
While it is certainly not the cheapest offering on our list, people who want a fast wireless network with some high-end features may consider the D7000 a good option.
TP-Link Archer D7 AC1750 Wireless ADSL2+ Modem Router
- Dual band, 802.11ac wireless with Ethernet ports.
- Three antennas for increased signal.
- USB 3.0 port makes it possible to share files at high speeds across your network
The TP-Link Archer series is another regular on our lists. It also offers a load of high-end features so you can get the most from your network.
Once you have connected your cables the router is very simple to set up, which is great if you are unfamiliar with the technology involved. Along with the simple setup, you still get a ton of high-end features like USB 3.0 sharing and dual-band connectivity.
While less aggressive looking than the Nighthawk router, its smooth and shiny casing means it won’t look out of place in your office or home. It has three antennas, all of which fold down if required to give you more options on where to put it.
Its 802.11ac radio will give you fast speeds across your network and despite having many other high-end features is currently slightly cheaper than the Netgear Nighthawk router. It ticks a lot of boxes!
Actiontec GT784WN Wireless N ADSL Modem Router
- Supports theoretical speeds up to 300Mbps over Wireless N.
- Good security features including firewall, encryption options and parental controls.
- Automatic configuration for easy setup.
This is the first router on our list that uses the 802.11n standard. As such the speeds on offer aren’t quite as fast.
However, if you don’t plan to transfer files on your network as quickly as possible, this router should be good enough for most uses. It also has some good security features and as well as Ethernet ports if you really need a quick connection to certain devices.
We don't think its design is as impressive as some of the other routers on the list and it only has two antennas.
The main plus side is that it is much cheaper than the above two routers, which makes it perfect if you don’t need all the top end features on your network.
Netgear D6400 AC1600 Wi-Fi VDSL/ADSL Modem Router
- Very fast wifi speeds using the 802.11ac standard.
- Dual band and comes with Ethernet ports.
- Netgear Genie app makes managing your network easy
This is the second offering from Netgear on our list. While it is one step down from the Nighthawk, it is still an excellent router/modem that offers a ton of great features.
It is dual band, 802.11ac and has Ethernet ports which gives your network loads of connection options.
While it misses some of the really high-end features available on the Nighthawk router, it is still a fantastic feature-packed router.
Trendnet TEW-722BRM N300 Wireless ADSL2+ Modem Router
- Very affordable modem/router.
- Uses the 802.11n wireless standard to give speeds of 300Mbps.
- Good range offered.
This is certainly the budget option of the routers on our list. It isn’t as fast as some of the other products and it may not be quite as stylish, however it still offers a number of plus points.
Setup is still easy on this router and it is easy to configure once this is completed. The speeds on offer may be limited to 300Mbps but this will still be enough for many people especially if you are mainly planning to use the router for web surfing.
All in all, this is a decent router at a great price and will be perfect for people who just want a simple product to help them connect multiple devices to the internet without going too crazy!