Motorola SurfBoard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem Review

The SB6141 cable modem by Motorola provides Gigabit Ethernet connectivty for local area networks, IPV6 support, and DOCSIS 3.0 technology. It enables channel bonding for up to 8 downstream (and 4 upstream) channels providing data rates of more than 300 Mbps when downloading and over 100 Mbps when uploading.

The device is compatible with Windows, MAC, and Linux machines. It supports AES traffic encryption for enhanced security. The modem is approved for use for top Internet companies including Time Warner Cable, Cox, and Comcast.

What is the DOCSIS standard?

Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications or DOCSIS provides a way for standard cable television operators to deliver high-speed Internet through an existing hybrid fiber-coaxial infrastructure. The standard is governed by CableLabs and as of this writing there have been four versions of DOCSIS.

CableLabs is a non-profit organization that oversees the certification of DOCSIS compliant equipment.

Each new version of DOCSIS of course has added new features and improved upon the performance. Version 2.0 saw an advancement in the upstream bandwidth for example. Version 3.0 is simply faster overall.

Competing modems

Gateways, or wireless router/cable modem combos, aren’t considered competitors for the SurfBoard SB6141. They are in a class of their own, being a hybrid device. Many prefer a separate unit for WiFi and modem for an easier time with troubleshooting. Plus, since it is just one single unit, one component dying affects the rest.

A notable competitor in this class is the Zoom 5341J which many Comcast and Cox customer put in use and swear by. However, the closest competitor to the SB6141 is probably it’s predecessor, the SB6121. The 6121 has been around much longer and is a widely known device, but the 6141 is simply faster.

As mentioned the 6141 can do an 8×4 channel bond giving it a download speed of 300 Mbps and upload speed of 100 Mbps. The 6121 channel bond is just 4×4 giving it speeds of only up to 160 Mbps on the download.

With that said, arguably the speeds that the DOCSIS 3.0 modem is capable of achieving are bottlenecked by most cable providers today. Therefore, both the 6121 and 6141 could be realistically be considered equals in some cases. But the 6141 provides future proofing for as little as $10 extra. Some cable Internet providers will require the DOCSIS 3.0 modem with 8×4 channel bonding at some time in the future if they don’t already.