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I think my cable modem is dying. It runs hot and lately my service has random disconnects that are typically resolved with a simple power cycle of the modem. It's a SB6121--a plain cable modem not a wifi router combo. My service provider claims there is no signal issue, but my modem is EOL and likely the cause.

My service tier is less than 100 Mbps and I don't see myself upgrading unless I receive a free speed upgrade (it has happened once). I'm considering three choices: 1) 644 Mbps (ARRIS SB6190), 2) 373 Mbps (ARRIS SB6183), and 3) 213 Mbps (ARRIS SB6141). All three will fit my service needs. But I'm wondering if a model that is capable of faster speeds might actually work more efficiently at a lower speed. Perhaps a newer model is more efficient and generates less heat, thereby prolonging the life of the unit. Is there any way to answer this without just buying them all and testing it myself? The reviews I've read don't focus on heat issues, just performance.

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Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: It depends.

It's very difficult to find out why the modem becomes overheat by just looking or touch it. Usually, it overheats because of dust, old, degraded chips on the board etc. Is it always this hot or it became hotter and hotter over the years?

No matter which case it is, newer modems usually have better processing power and generates less heat under same load. Also, a metal case modem has better heat dissipation capacity than the plastic case ones, in my experience.

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  • It has been in service for almost 4 years. I cannot say for sure if it's hotter today than when I first put it in service. But it does seem very hot around the CPU vents, leading me to wonder if it's overheating. Also a quick reboot doesn't fix it. A short 1-2 min cool down does, though. Thanks. I'll either try the mid-range one or the high end one.
    – jimp
    Aug 29, 2018 at 21:25
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I'm wondering if a model that is capable of faster speeds might actually work more efficiently at a lower speed.

The tier of service has absolutely, no part in your health of your current device, nor will it have any effect on the (heat) performance of a new device. Any performance increase with regards to the speed of your connection will be entirely based on the fact, the new device supports a newer DOCSIS standard.

Is there any way to answer this without just buying them all and testing it myself?

You will have to talk to your service provider if this can be done.

The reviews I've read don't focus on heat issues, just performance.

This is due to the fact, these devices, should not be overheating. If they are overheating, it is due to a cooling problem, typically on a device like this that would be caused by dust.

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  • Hardware recommendations are not within scope here at Superuser. I will absolutely not provide a hardware recommendation. Only you can decide, the amount of money you want to spend, in order to replace your current device.
    – Ramhound
    Aug 29, 2018 at 18:19
  • Thanks for the feedback. I actually never asked for a hardware recommendation. I listed the candidates in case someone had experience with them and to demonstrate one is much closer to the speed limit than the others. The motivation for the question is often a less capable CPU running near 100% utilization will put off more heat than a newer one running at a lower utilization. That fact alone could make one device less likely to overheat in the same environment (e.g., a closet, cabinet, etc).
    – jimp
    Aug 29, 2018 at 21:22
  • None of those options will run cooler than the other, you simply have a device, that’s overheating (if that is even the case)
    – Ramhound
    Aug 29, 2018 at 22:01

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