Motorola SBG6580 vs SB6141
Motorola Surfboard SB6141 vs Motorola SBG6580 - which is the better buy and what is the difference between the two?
If you have these same questions, then you have come to the right place.
However before you proceed, just take a good look at the image on your right. Can you spot the difference between the two?
At a casual glance, both look the same. However the functions between the Motorola Surfboard SBG6580 and Motorola Surfboard SB6141 are slightly different.
The Motorola SB6141 is purely a cable modem whilst the Motorola SBG6580 is both a cable modem as well as a wireless router; also commonly referred to as a gateway.
It may be just a piece of cake for a geek but for many consumers out there including many of my friends, it can be very confusing to decide which of these two Motorola gadgets better suits them.
Hence, the question as to whether to buy the Arris Motorola SB6141 or Motorola SBG6580; or rather, which is a better buy is a very valid question for many people - even both devices are slightly different.
As such, I will try to explain in as simple as possible terms; trying to omit those technical terms and jargon so that you will have a good understanding of the difference between the Arris Motorola SBG6580 vs SB6141.
My intention is that by the time you reach the end of this hub you should be able to decide beyond a shadow of doubt which of these two devices from Motorola better suits your requirements.
By the way, don't worry if you see the name Arris appended to these surfboard devices as the Motorola division that manufactures these devices has been sold first to Google and then to the Arris Group.
I feel that this is a better arrangement as the Arris Group specializes in manufacturing telecommunication equipment for cable operators with high-speed data, video and telephony systems for homes as well as businesses.
As such you are in good hands if you buy either one of these gadgets as they are manufactured by the people who are specialized in the networking stuff rather than Google.
The basics first - What is a modem and what is a router?
You can skip this section if you are well versed with cable modems and wireless routers. However I will just include a simple and short explanation here for those who would like to know.
- Modem - is used to get you connected to the outside world. You subscribe to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) e.g. TWC, Cox, Comcast, Mediacom, Bright House etc and you get the information you want via the modem. Two types of modems are generally used - digital subscriber line (DSL) modems and cable modems. The cable modem is the faster of the two and fortunately the majority of us in the US are subscribed to cable and hence we can use the faster cable modem.
- Router - Once you get your data from your ISP via your modem, you will need to move that data to your client devices; typically your desktop computer, notebook computer etc and nowadays your smart devices like your smart phones, smart TV etc. This is done by the router. There are also two ways your router can get the data to the client devices - wired or wireless. Due of the convenience and many advantages of the wireless mode over the wired mode, most people now have chosen to go wireless.
Even though I try to make this hub as non technical as possible, there will be some inevitable technical terms that you have to know in order to make the proper decision to select the Motorola Surfboard SBG6580 or SB6141 and DOCSIS is one of them.
In short DOCSIS stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification and is actually an international standard created to govern the high speed data transfer mode for existing cable TV (CATV) systems.
Remember, both the Motorola SBG6580 and Motorola SB6141 are cable modems so DOCSIS is very vital here.
What is important for you to know now is that the current DOCSIS standard is at 3.0 and both the Motorola SBG6580 and SB6141 are DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems.
Another important fact is that DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems can be theoretically up to eight times faster than the older DOCSIS 2.0 cable modems.
DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems are also approximately 8,000 times faster than 56k analog phone modems!
If you are curious and want to find out more about DOCSIS, check out this hub where I wrote about the comparison between the Motorola SB6141 vs SB6121 which are two of the earliest cable modems implementing the DOCSIS 3.0 standard.
You will frequently see numbers like 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n and the latest 802.11ac when you are buying wireless gadgets.
You can find out more about the history and the technical aspects of these numbers in Wikipedia but for now, both the Motorola SBG6580 and SB6141 are 802.11 "n" products.
"ac" is the fastest followed by "n", "g" and "b". There are also other alphabets and hence standards to the 802.11 but don't worry about those.
What these alphabets tell you is the speed of the device and right now, the most popular among home users are the "n" devices with the "ac" expecting to gain more popularity in the coming future.
Gateway, what is it?
You have often heard about the term gateway. So what is it? A network gateway is an internetworking system capable of joining together two networks that use different base protocols.
In simple terms what it means is that when Motorola says that its Surfboard SBG6580 is a gateway, it allows the flow of data from the modem to your client devices through the build in router functions.
On the other hand, the Motorola SB6141 is not a gateway modem. What this means is that it is a pure modem without any router functions build in.
You will have to buy a separate router to use with your Motorola SB6141 if you want to connect to more than one client at the same time.
The main difference between Motorola SBG6580 and SB6141
So, now you have some of the technical terms out of the way, what is the main difference between the Motorola SBG6580 vs SB6141?
As I have mentioned previously, the main difference between the Motorola SB6141 and SBG6580 is the wireless router function.
By the way, the name of the SBG 6580 has "G" in it which tells you that it is a gateway modem.
For simplicity and clarity, here is a table showing you the similarities and differences between some of the more important features of the Motorola SBG6580 and the Motorola SB6141 at one glance.
|Motorola SBG6580||Motorola SB6141|
Build in router
up to 343 Mbps
up to 343 Mbps
up to 131 Mbps
up to 131 Mbps
4 port Gigabit Wired Router
Dual Band Wi-Fi
Which to buy - SBG6580 or SB6141?
OK. Now you have seen some of the major technology that goes into both of these Motorola networking devices. So which of these gadgets is a better buy, you may ask.
Depending you your requirements and needs, here are the reasons to buy either the Arris Motorola SBG6580 or Arris Motorola SB6141:
Buy the Motorola SB6141
Reasons for buying Motorola SB6141:
- you already have a wireless router
- it is very unlikely but you only have one client that you need to connect to access the internet
- you would like to split the point of failure - so that if the router fails, you only change the router and vice versa for the modem. Some people would absolutely not combine their router with their modem in one box for this reason
- the Motorola SB6141 is one of the best value consumer class cable modem available at the point of writing but a newer cable modem has just been made available sometime around July 2014 which has twice the download speed of the Motorola SB6141. You can checkout the latest Arris Motorola SB6183 if you are interested.
Remember, unlike the Motorola Surboard SBG6580 which also incorporates a wireless router, when you buy the Motorola Surfboard SB6141, you are only buying a cable modem. It does not have a wireless router function.
If you only need a cable modem (and want to have separate router)...
— Buy the Motorola SB6141/SB6121
If you are not subscribing to a high bandwidth, then you may want to consider the Motorola SB6121 which is cheaper. Check out this link to find out more on the Motorola SB6141 vs SB6121 comparison.
The Motorola SB6121 is also very similar to the Motorola SB6141 except that it is only slightly slower. So unless you can fully utilize the bandwidth that you are subscribed to; quite frequently, the cheaper Motorola SB6121 will be sufficient for many people.
If you need both cable modem and wireless router in ONE box...
— Buy the Motorola Surfboard SBG6580
Buy the Motorola Surfboard SBG6580 if:
- You want the convenience of both the cable modem and wireless router in the same box
- A single box with both cable modem and wireless router takes up less power ports and less table space
- The total cost of a single box combo like the Motorola SBG6580 is cheaper than buying a separate cable modem and wireless router
The other argument that I always hear against buying a combo is that if anything fails (i.e. either the router or modem fails), then the whole box fails. This is true.
However in the case of the two separate boxes, if either one fails, your network will still be down until you get the replacement! As such there is no difference when it comes to up time after a failure.
As such, these are personal preferences. No right, no wrong. So basically, the choice is up to you. As for me, I prefer the convenience of the combo.
Click on the link below to buy the Arris Motorola SBG6580 from Amazon.
If you have taken the option to buy the Motorola SB6141 without the in build wireless router of the SBG6580 and you are interested to look at acquiring a separate wireless router, then check out the link below.
- How to buy the best home wireless router
Want to get the best user experience with your home wireless router but not spending unnecessarily money for it? Find out how to get the best deals by smartly picking top wireless routers here.
What if I need to connect a phone to my modem?
If you have been using a digital phone line with your existing cable modem and is looking to upgrade that modem then the above two modems i.e. the Motorola SB6141 and Motorola SBG6580 gateway we discussed here will not work for you.
Instead you may want to check out the Arris TM822G instead for a modem with a phone capability and the Arris TG862G for a gateway with a phone capability.
You may also want to check out the Motorola's latest gateway which also incorporates MoCA.
By the way, MoCA is not the brew you have every morning. Click on this link to find out more on the Motorola SBG6782-AC and how you can utilize MoCA through the Motorola SBG6782AC.
What is your preference?
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Tell us about your experience. We would love to hear your feedback...
Vijay on September 17, 2016:
It's really great information, pretty much covered all the aspects. Thank you.
Could you share the differences between Motorola N300 and AC1900 series modems.
William Cumpston on June 03, 2016:
I was very impressed with this article and have shared it on my Facebook page. I also joined the Hub Page for future consideration--very interesting. I have been researching buying my own cable modem and already decided on the Arris SB6141 a few months ago. Now I have decided to try cable TV and a faster internet speed. I have been very leery of the greedy cable TV industry for decades, but now I'm going to give them another chance. I just heard from my sales rep that Charter recently acquired TWC (Time Warner Cable) and Brighthouse. It looks like the TWC merger has finally gone through. I knew it was in the works, but hadn't heard anything recently. I hope that improves the customer service experience for TWC customers. My next purchase will be the wireless router as my old budget-friendly Cisco Linksys E-series is behind on the times.
James Causian (author) from Huston, Texas on January 27, 2016:
You might have got a lemon for your SBG6580 Sean. It sometimes happens for electrical/electronic items.
Sean King on January 23, 2016:
I got the SBG6580 and it fails and reboots all the time. When connected to wireless one client will suck all the internet from the others making them not usable. I do not see anything in it to control that. So I am returning it and going to the SB6141 as it has better ratings on Amazon. 20% 1 star for the SBG6580 points to major issues in my opinion.
James Causian (author) from Huston, Texas on April 28, 2014:
Hope that you get the information you need with regards to the Motorola SBG6580 or the Surfboard SB6141. If you are looking for a combo and don't mind spending a little more, then I would like to recommend that you check out the Surboard SBG6782AC.
Johnk569 on April 28, 2014:
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