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Arris Surfboard SBG6950AC2 Vs SBG7400AC2. Which to Buy?

ARRIS SURFboard SBG6950AC2 vs SBG7400AC2

ARRIS SURFboard SBG6950AC2 (left) vs SBG7400AC2 (right). Except for the model number, both looks identical

ARRIS SURFboard SBG6950AC2 (left) vs SBG7400AC2 (right). Except for the model number, both looks identical

Technology is ever changing and doing so at a very fast pace...sometimes too fast, lamented my friend Francis, a bank VP "...I just cannot catch up." Well Francis is not the only one. Many of my friends are also in the similar situation.

With this in mind, I am making this comparison analysis between these two Arris cable modem Wifi router to be as simple as possible so that if you are like Francis, you can come to a decision on whether to get the Arris Surfboard SBG7400AC2 24x8 DOCSIS 3.0 or Arris Surfboard SBG6950AC2 without making further research after going through this hub.

I will make the explanation on the technology and technical terms here as simple as possible and in layman terms in order for it to make sense to non IT technical readers who need to make a quick decision without going into the technical intricacies.

The table below shows the salient points with regards to both the Arris SBG6950AC2 and SBG7400AC2. I have put them side by side so that it is very easy to make a comparison and see the difference between the two.

Comparing apple to apple

arris-surfboard-sbg6950ac2-vs-sbg7400ac2-which-to-buy

Arris SBG6950AC2 vs Arris SBG7400AC2

Comparison of the main features of the Arris SBG6950 vs Arris SBG7400 wave2 Wi-Fi Router

DescARRIS SURFboard SBG6950AC2ARRIS SURFboard SBG7400AC2

Dual band Wifi Router

Yes

Yes

4 Port Gigabit Router

Yes

Yes

Cable Modem Channels

16x4

24x8

Wifi Router

Wave 2 AC1900

Wave 2 AC2350

Max download speed

686 Mbps

1,000 Mbps

Cable Internet Service

Required

Required

IPv4 and IPv6 supported?

Yes

Yes

Wi-Fi beamforming

Yes

Yes

McAfee Secure Whole Home Internet

Yes

Yes

Approved cable provider

Xfinity and Cox

Xfinity and Cox

Compatible with

Spectrum (Time Warner, Charter and Brighthouse)

Spectrum (Time Warner, Charter and Brighthouse)

Not compatible with

ATT, Verizon, CenturyLink

ATT, Verizon, CenturyLink

Price

$157.00

$189.00

ARRIS SURFboard SBG6950AC2

ARRIS SURFboard SBG6950AC2 16x4 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem/AC1900 Wi-Fi Router/McAfee Whole Home Internet Protection

ARRIS SURFboard SBG6950AC2 16x4 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem/AC1900 Wi-Fi Router/McAfee Whole Home Internet Protection

Understanding the naming conventions

The official name for the SBG6950AC2 is ARRIS SURFboard SBG6950AC2 16x4 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem/AC1900 Wi-Fi Router/McAfee Whole Home Internet Protection.

SBG - Surf Board Gateway. A gateway is a combination of a modem and router

6950 - this is the model number

AC - denotes that this is an AC WiFi version. The other versions are A, B, G, N respectively

2 - this tells you that this model is the second wave of wireless networking gear based on the 802.11ac standard. I will discuss more on Wave 2 later.

The naming nomenclature for the SBG7400AC2 is also the same as the SBG6950AC2.

Through the naming nomenclature you can easily tell that both are Wave 2 modem routers.

What are modem channels and channel bonding?

Channels are used to transmit signal from one end to another.

The SURFboard SBG6950AC2 has 16 download and 4 upload channels while the SURFboard SBG7400AC2 has 24 download and 8 channels. They are usually stated as 16x4 and 24x8 for the SBG6950AC2 and SBG7400AC2 respectively.

Channel Bonding is the key to modem's performance.

Channel bonding is the technology that allows the modem to utilize multiple channels simultaneously to increase its overall performance.

A simple analogy is your water pipe. Instead of running water through say six small pipes, why not combine the diameters of the six small pipes into one big pipe. In this way you can get more volume through that big pipe.

Channel bonding in your Motorola SBG6950AC2 or SBG7400AC2 works in a similar manner for data. However many people tend to misunderstand some concept of the channel bonding.

The number of channels that can be bonded is actually dependent on your ISP and not on the modem. However the modem must have that capacity to bond.

For example, the SBG7400AC2 is capable of bonding 24x8 but it does not mean that you will get that amount of channels as your ISP may not have that many channels available to bond.

Do you want to catch the Wave 2?

arris-surfboard-sbg6950ac2-vs-sbg7400ac2-which-to-buy

The current cutting edge of Wi-Fi technology, also popularly referred to as the “Wave 2” is the second wave of the gigabit WiFi 802.11ac or the AC Wave 2 standard.

Wave 2 hardware offers more throughput and better handling of multiple connections through the use of MU-MIMO (multi user - multi input multi output). Standards older than 802.11ac (such as 802.11b, g and n) do not support MU-MIMO.

MIMO, MIMO, MIMO...

arris-surfboard-sbg6950ac2-vs-sbg7400ac2-which-to-buy

MU-MIMO hardware can service multiple client devices using its multiple antennae, wider channels and also adds a number of other bells and whistles.

When multiple users try to access the wireless network at the same time, the 802.11 protocol serves the users on a first-come, first-serve basis. Hence when the multiple users begin accessing the router at or near the same time, congestion occurs as the router services the first user’s request while the second (and third, fourth, etc.) wait in line.

Even though these wait times can be tiny, it will accumulate when more devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, etc. and users request for resources. MU-MIMO was was created to overcome this situation by allowing for multiple users to access router functions without the congestion resulting in Wave 2 hardware offering more throughput and better handling of multiple connections.

Wave 2 performance enhancement

arris-surfboard-sbg6950ac2-vs-sbg7400ac2-which-to-buy

Some of the performance enhancements that you can expect to with Wave 2 hardware include:

1. Gigabit Wi-Fi possibilities with cable

Throughput rate of data transfer, is much higher in Wave 2 making it a possibility of achieving a gigabit speed

2. Support for more connected devices

MU-MIMO offers greater density than Wave 1 802.11ac because the spectrum is used more efficiently for multiple connected devices. As such the devices can more easily get on and off of the network.

3. It offers stronger performance

Wave 2 introduces a 160 MHz channel width option. With Wave 1, the only options were 20, 40, and 80 MHz. In theory this will make it easier to access and transfer large files.

The Wave 2 standard also adds a fourth spatial stream. Wave 1 has only three streams. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, "Device speeds are proportional to the number of spatial streams." As such, more streams generates better overall performance.

4. Wave 2 provides more bandwidth and flexibility

802.11ac Wave 2 is that it supports additional 5 GHz channels. This is one of the biggest updates that comes with Wave 2. If these 5 GHz channels are assigned for Wi-Fi use, it could overall help support more users and devices.

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, most devices (approximately 65%) now are dual-band; as such they can operate in both the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies without any problems.

Which is better for you?

The questions to ask are:

  1. Do you need the Wave 2 features?
  2. Does your current service provider support Wave 2? Refer to the table above.

Both gateways are similar except for performance. SBG7400AC2 has more upload and download channels, maximum theoretical bandwidth and download as compared to the SBG6950AC2.

Both also features the ARRIS Secure Home Internet by McAfee to provide the speeds you need for things like HD video streaming and online gaming as well as for keeping all the devices on your network safe and secure from online threats like malware and phishing scams etc with no more buffering or lagging behind.

It comes with a 3 years free service, after which you can continue with a subscription if you wish.


The crunch

Are both the SBG6950AC2 or the SBG7400AC2 really necessary for your current and future needs?

Generally, connection speeds are limited by other parts of the infrastructure, not the wireless connection.

Cutting-edge technology normally comes at a premium price. If the improvements over 802.11ac wave 1 are not important to you, then you may just want to wait for the next wireless standard – 802.11ax or continue with your 802.11ac wave 1 gear.

On the other hand the support of MU-MIMO is important for end users, as most people, especially so for those with family and children, tend to have multiple connected devices in their home or on their person.

If the growing number of mobile devices and IoT-connected devices have created some frustrations for you, then the addition of MU-MIMO support could help alleviate some of those headaches.

Some of my friends felt that it was justifiable for them to make the upgrade in view of the fact that the cost of the hardware is pretty reasonable. They could easily recover their purchase cost within a short period of time especially when they are renting their existing equipment from their service provider.

If you are planning to upgrade but find that it is not the right time to invest in a Wave 2 technology now, here are some other good 802.11ac Wave 1 gateways from Arris that you may want to find out if it better suits you.

Other older Arris gateways

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