For owners of an out-of-date cable Internet gateway or for new cable Internet customers, the new Motorola SBG6782-AC Surfboard eXtreme Cable Modem would make a great investment.
This is the first modem-router combo device that's comparable to, and even better in some cases than, using a standalone modem and a separate Wi-Fi router. The new device uses high-end hardware components, and even has built-in support for MoCA (an Ethernet-Over-Coax standard), which is a great bonus for those looking to expand a wired home network using the existing coaxial cables that bring a TV signal to different rooms.
In my testing, the Motorola SBG6782-AC offered mixed, though overall very good, performance as both a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem and a high-end router. As a true dual-band device, it also supports all existing Wi-Fi clients on the market. On the downside, it's unusually bulky, it has no USB port, and it provides subpar Wi-Fi speeds at long range on the 2.4GHz frequency band. Its lengthy name, believe it or not, can also cause trouble during the modem setup process.
All in all, at $200 the Motorola SBG6782-AC definitely beats getting a standalone cable modem and a separate Wi-Fi router with similar high-end specs, in terms of startup cost. However, if you already have a robust home network with a fast cable modem, there's no need to upgrade.
|Device type||Cable modem/ Wi-Fi router combo|
|Dimensions (HWL)||8.8x2.1x10.1 inches|
|Router specs||True dual-band 802.11ac/n/g/b with four Gigabit LAN ports|
|Modem specs||DOCSIS 3.0 / Up to 343Mbps WAN speed|
|Wi-Fi security||WEP, WPA,WPA2 with Wi-Fi Protected Setup|
|Extra features||Built-in MoCA 1.1 support|
|Current cost / warranty||$200 / one-year limited|
Bulky but most complete all-in-one design
Standing 8.8 inches tall, 2.1 inches wide, and 10.1 inches deep, the Motorola SBG6782-AC is very bulky, significantly larger than even a Wi-Fi router and a standalone cable modem put together. But it's large for a good reason: it has the most functions bundled in a single box that I've seen yet, consisting of a high-end 802.11ac-enabled true dual-band Gigabit router, a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, and a MoCA 1.1 adapter.
On the back the Motorola SBG6782-AC has four Gigabit LAN ports for connecting wired clients and one coaxial F connector to connect to a cable TV line-in. There's no other WAN port, meaning you can't use this device as a standard router for other Internet services, such as DSL or satellite disk. The device doesn't have a USB port, either, so there's no support for a USB printer or storage.
However, it does what it needs to. With a standalone cable modem, you would need a separate router to provide Internet access to multiple devices, but with the Motorola SBG6782-AC, all you have to do is connect the coaxial connector to the cable TV line-in and your home network is pretty much ready. There are no other hardware devices needed.
Since the coaxial connector also supports MoCA, which is similar to a power line connection but uses coaxial TV cables instead of electrical wiring, you just need to get MoCA adapters at the far ends to add more wired devices to the home network. This is a great way to expand a network for homes that are wired with TV cables.
On top the device has a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button that helps quickly add WPS-enabled devices to its Wi-Fi networks. And on the front, there are the usual status lights that you can glance at to see how well the device is working.
What's in a name?
Setting up the Surfboard eXtreme could be a lot easier if the device had a simpler and single name. Instead it has many small variations.
On the box, its name is: Motorola Surfboard eXtreme Cable Modem & Wi-Fi AC Router with MoCA. At the company's Web site, the device's name is Motorola SBG6782-AC Surfboard eXtreme Cable Modem. The device is marketed at retailers as Motorola - Surfboard eXtreme 802.11ac DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem and 4-Port Gigabit Ethernet Router. Finally, on a cable Internet provider's supported list, it's identified as simply SBG6782AC or SBG6782AC DOCSIS 3.0 Wireless Cable Modem Gateway.
And that's not all, since the Arris Group acquired Motorola's Home unit back in April, you will also see its above names available with the "by ARRIS" suffix. And in the end, you're not sure if this device is from Arris or Motorola.
While this seems like no big deal, it could be a big headache when you call your cable provider to register the device's modem, a required step to make the Internet work. In my case, the Comcast technician on the phone at first insisted that he couldn't activate the device since it "wasn't on the approved list" when I told him the device's name. To make the story short, make sure you check with your provider's approved list of cable modems (here's Comcast's list, for example) to find out how this device is named at their end. Most of the time, using the model number Motorola SBG6782AC is the safest way.
Robust Web interface, great feature set
Other than any trouble arising from its name, the Surfboard eXtreme is very easily to set up thanks to its robust Web interface. The router part of it is set up the same way as a typical home router. ( ).