Arris’ SB8200 modem has been a standard for some time now. Replacing its previous model that had chipset issues causing major latency and making right with the world. However, you may not have noticed that a new flagship model made its way into the light since then. The ARRIS Surfboard S33 DOCSIS 3.1 Multi-Gigabit Cable Modem pretty much crowns the SB8200 with a new design and a few missing options. This new model takes the spotlight a little for a few good reasons, will it be enough for an upgrade?
The biggest difference is that it offers a 2.5Gbps port on the back (along with a second 1Gbps port). Something that the SB8200 lacked as it only has two 1Gbps ports. This properly allows for multi-gigabit bandwidth between your network and the internet. A pretty big deal when you are flaunting multi-gigabit capabilities.
Since most routers entering the scene are now offering (at least) 2.5Gbps ports for both LAN and WAN, it is important that your modem supports the same. However, most non-fiber cable plans don’t offer more than 1Gbps (1.2Gbps at most) and likely won’t until DOCSIS 4.0 rolls out. So it does become a gray area of need vs. want at this point. With a heavier emphasis on “want”. In the meantime, the SB8200 offers a similar (or even the same) performance.
Coming in second is the overall design of the modem. I wouldn’t say that the previous designs are outdated because let’s face it, as long as the modem delivers as well as it can, who cares about what it looks like as you can always hide it as there aren’t any wireless properties to be concerned about. But the new design doesn’t look terrible. It just makes it a little harder to attach a fan for airflow if you plan on cooling it off, as these modems can get pretty hot since they don’t offer any active cooling internally.
Beyond that, it’s the same exact chipset inside (Broadcom BCM3390) as the SB8200 model. Pretty much everything is the same outside of the shell design and the added 2.5Gbps port on the back. It even has the same amount of RAM inside. It’s uptime/reliability is exactly the same. Thus leading us to run a quick review vs a full review since there really isn’t a lot to discuss this round.
So is this enough to make it worth it over the SB8200? In a sense, yes, but not by much (so, no?). The price of the SB8200 has come down (at least, via Amazon) since the release of this model. Making it a slight bit more appealing for one big reason (about $50+ in savings more appealing). It may not offer multi-gigabit Ethernet on the back, but it does offer the same speeds for most gigabit plans out there. Many ISPs are taking their time upgrading their networks to the full potential of DOCSIS 3.1 and you likely won’t see much more than a single gigabit before DOCSIS 4.0 rolls out everywhere.
So if you are upgrading to DOCSIS 3.1 from 3.0 and can get the SB8200 for significantly less ($120 or less), then we’d say go with the SB8200. As the differences aren’t enough to make the S33 worth the price. If you are looking to upgrade from the SB8200 to something new, you should wait for now until DOCSIS 4.0 rolls out. If the discounted price is no longer available for the SB8200 putting both around the same price or a difference of $20 or less, then absolutely get the S33.
That being said, we still rate it highly based on our own tests of it. It’s just important to keep in mind that both models sit side by side in score as long as there is a difference in price.
|DOCSIS Technology||DOCSIS 3.1|
|Gigabit Ethernet Ports||One 2.5 GB and one 1 GB Ethernet Port|
|Compatibility||Major US Cable Providers|
|Digital Voice Service Capability||No|
|Wired Speeds||Up to 2.5 Gbps|
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