Computers & Electronics

Separate router vs. modem's built-in router

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  • Aug 25th, 2021 1:17 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
4530 posts
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Toronto

Separate router vs. modem's built-in router

I recently signed on with a new ISP and got chatting with the installer. He expressed surprise that I was "still" using a separate router, as opposed to the router functionality built in to the modem.

I was surprised at his surprise -- my default assumption was always that a standalone router would outperform the one built into the modem. Apparently this is no longer the case, and I would get better speeds through the modem's own router functionality.

My service is 150 Mbps so my router (a mid-range TPLink) is very unlikely to be the limiting factor in speed, and I use a bunch of fixed IP addresses on my LAN that would make switching a pain, so I decided to keep the router. But I'm wondering about the technician's statement, and at what point I would want to just ditch the router entirely?
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Jun 16, 2009
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JHW wrote: I recently signed on with a new ISP and got chatting with the installer. He expressed surprise that I was "still" using a separate router, as opposed to the router functionality built in to the modem.

I was surprised at his surprise -- my default assumption was always that a standalone router would outperform the one built into the modem. Apparently this is no longer the case, and I would get better speeds through the modem's own router functionality.

My service is 150 Mbps so my router (a mid-range TPLink) is very unlikely to be the limiting factor in speed, and I use a bunch of fixed IP addresses on my LAN that would make switching a pain, so I decided to keep the router. But I'm wondering about the technician's statement, and at what point I would want to just ditch the router entirely?
I use the built-in Rogers router myself, mostly because of laziness and no desire to purchase something separate. I mean, he may be correct depending on certain scenarios such as ease of use, saving money, and how much performance differs to make it all worthwhile. If you're finding your setup acceptable for your use, just do your thing. If you're worried that you may be losing speed or throughput, test both scenarios and go from there.
c'mon get happy!
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
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BernardRyder wrote: I mean, he may be correct depending on certain scenarios such as ease of use, saving money, and how much performance differs to make it all worthwhile.
I should have been clearer -- he suggested that the performance of the built-in router functionality would be superior (not a cost or ease-of-use argument).
Deal Expert
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Feb 24, 2003
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Toronto
I think it really depends on the supplied modem/router, your router, and wired/wireless clients.
Deal Fanatic
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Nov 15, 2020
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It's mainly a range issue, and then whether the built in router actually is a full functioning router with port forwarding working. You can test the range easily.
Deal Addict
Feb 15, 2007
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Pickering
Another thing to consider with a separate router is you are in control of you network, not the ISP.
Deal Addict
Jan 13, 2009
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Oakville
JHW wrote: But I'm wondering about the technician's statement, and at what point I would want to just ditch the router entirely?
I have some doubts that provider's modem\router would provide me with all functionality I need in my house, e.g.: VLANs, OpenVPN server, scheduled access restriction, virtual wireless interface etc. But maybe I'm under the rock already? :)
Speed is my second worry here, and I will likely use additional APs for coverage anyway.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
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JHW wrote: I should have been clearer -- he suggested that the performance of the built-in router functionality would be superior (not a cost or ease-of-use argument).
Performance how?

Typically speaking modem router combos are better than most of the low end consumer crap a customer buys at their local Best Buy in terms of wireless performance.
This is also what most people really care about so the installer isn't technically wrong.

But if we're talking about raw wired WAN speeds the modem should perform to whatever spec you're paying for.
That's what I care about. Modem router combos are typically basic things without a whole lot of features. They're just fine for most people but like @KosMos I have a butt ton of other features that I need that a consumer router will never have.
I'm also far more stable than literally every consumer router and most modem router combos. I've had uptimes of 2000+ days. I can't even get 2000+ minutes on some crappier routers.

For this reason I always demand a standalone modem or ensure that I can bridge the combo if a standalone is unavailable.
Do you not have anything else to do rather than argue with strangers on the internet
Nope. That's why I'm on the internet arguing with strangers. If I had anything better to do I'd probably be doing it.
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Mar 4, 2007
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Hi,

Currently I'm with Telus & found their modem has enough wifi range for my needs. Previously I was using Shaw(before blue curve) & found the modem didn't have enough range. What I did was set the Shaw modem to broadcast in 2.4 ghz. & the remote router to broadcast in 5.8 ghz. And I was able to put the remote router in a different location to cover the Shaw modem dead spots. If the ISP modem provides enough functionality & range, then there is no need for a remote router.
Deal Addict
Feb 25, 2007
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Used to use my own router, but with Fido/Rogers coda modem it’s sufficient for us, we have over 40 devices connected and not a problem
Deal Addict
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Aug 3, 2006
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What's the definition of performance here?
For power users who want/need to manage their QOS then they'll likely get their own separate router anyways.
I've been using only the Rogers modem for years - though it's been upgraded as I upgraded my home internet services. I have no issues with wifi speeds, range or connecting 6-8 devices concurrently.
Deal Guru
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Mar 12, 2005
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Victoria
I recently upgraded my speeds from 300mbps to 600mbps and my older Netgear R7000 router couldn't keep up with the speeds anymore (for some reason it's interent speed seemed to level out around 350mbps). I removed it, turned bridge mode off on the isp provided modem/router. Now I have everything going through the modem/router and it goes at full speeds. It leaves me wondering if I'll go back and bother to buy a new router. So far the ISP router seems fine.

The only drawback so far is the lack of ethernet ports. It' has 2 ethernet ports and 2 ports marked for phone use (that don't look like phone jacks or ethernet ports). 2 isn't very much, but I have switches already because 4 wasn't enough on the older router.

I guess the short version of my post, is since I recently switched from using a router to the isp provided modem/router, it seems to work pretty good, and has me doubting whether or not it's worth it to install a standalone router.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
4530 posts
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Toronto
Mulder and Scully wrote: What's the definition of performance here?
He seemed to imply I'd eventually be speed-limited by the router vs. using the modem's built-in router. I have 150 Mbps service so I doubt I'd get to that point, but that's what got me thinking.

I have a number of custom settings on my router, which I'd have to transfer to the modem, plus also the hassle of doing so again if I ever switch ISPs (which I'm likely to do in the future). I'll stick with status-quo for now but it's an interesting idea.
Deal Fanatic
Sep 16, 2013
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SW ON
He was probably thinking about gigabit plans. And he might not even know what plan you subscribed to. Not every consumer router can provide gigabit speeds but the ISP supplied router has to. I am talking about wired speeds here. So, if you are getting the promised speeds with your router, forget about what he said. You have more control of your network. Also, it is easier for providers to troubleshoot problems if people use their routers, so they may try to convince people to use them.
Member
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Nov 21, 2009
473 posts
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Moncton
For the past 2 years, I've used the Rogers supplied Coda-4582's built-in router and never had any problems until a few weeks ago, I woke up to no internet; Rogers had pushed a firmware update that completely wiped it back to factory set-up. All my port-forwards and Static IPs down the drain. :rolleyes:

I figured while I was going through the trouble of setting the whole network up again, I'd dig out my old ASUS RT-N56u router and see if it could still deliver the goods at 500Mbps speeds. Loaded the latest Padavan firmware and it's been stable ever since and no need to worry about forced updates again. Plus the Rogers router has a terrible guest wifi feature.

Anyway, forget what the technician said and stay with your own router; you're unlikely to gain anything at 150Mbps anyway.
Jr. Member
Aug 26, 2018
134 posts
136 upvotes
If you have basic network needs then the ISP provided router may be sufficient. If you are looking for better wifi coverage you can disable the isp router wifi and add a unifi wireless setup or omada if your looking for something cheaper. If your routing needs are more complex and you have the prerequisite networking knowledge then definitely put the isp router in bridge mode or if possible replace it completely with either a mikrotik, unifi, edgemax, or pfsense/netgate router.
Jr. Member
Aug 26, 2018
134 posts
136 upvotes
He likely lied to you. By using your own router your ISP has no way of poking around your home network unless they purposely hack their way in as their modem, if bridged, would sit outside of your firewall. Personally I always use my own router since it's my network, my privacy and my business. ISP is there only and strictly for internet access.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
4530 posts
1093 upvotes
Toronto
I appreciate everyone's advice. I will stick with my current setup (makes life easier) and re-evaluate if the router starts being the limiting factor for speed. (I'm nowhere near that point yet.)

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