Motorola SURFboard SB5120 (505788-006-00) 38.91 Mbps Cable Modem Reviews
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Motorola SURFboard SB5120 (505788-006-00) 38.91 Mbps Cable Modem

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SURFboard SB5120 Cable Modem - Plug and Play

Jul 4, 2005
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Super simple installation, solid reliable connection.

Cons:External device - additional unit that need AC plug-in and extra wires and cables.

The Bottom Line: Mindlessly simple installation and a solid reliable cable connection. USB and Ethernet cables included.


We recently made the long debated move off dial-up Internet service to a connection through our local cable company. I purchased the Motorola SURFboard SB5120 Cable Modem which was the suggested modem for connection to Charter Communications because there was no way I was going to rent a modem at $5.00 per month. I was initially a bit concerned I was in for a long drawn out installation process and a string of headache producing troubles but nothing could have been further from the truth.

What's In The Box?

In addition to your new Motorola SURFboard SB5120 Cable Modem, the folks at Motorola have included both a USB cable and Ethernet cable as well as the necessary power adapter. You will also find an installation CD-ROM with USB drivers and Quick Reference Guide.

It's nice to see manufacturers include everything necessary to get started instantly without the need to purchase additional items. Including both the USB and Ethernet cables insures purchasers the necessary cables are at your fingertips no matter what port configuration your computer requires.

The installation CD-ROM is only necessary for USB connections or for those desiring to peruse the User Guide. Since I used the Ethernet cable and installation was completed with true plug and play simplicity, I never touched the CD.

The Quick Reference Guide, which is a two-sided 5.5" x 8.5" single sheet, was helpful but almost unnecessary due to the mindlessly simple installation. The help sheet does include a troubleshooting guide should a problem arise during installation or use.

Convenience Features

As with any cable modem, the Motorola SURFboard SB5120 Cable Modem is no exception... you are always on, always connected to the Internet. Depending on a number of conditions, you may be capable of downloading up to 100 times faster than your traditional 28.8k dial-up modems. As an SBC employee, I hate to admit that disconnecting my second telephone line and monthly cost from my Internet provider negated nearly all the monthly cable access charge.

Motorola has added a stand-by switch on the top side of the modem as a security feature which enables users to disconnect the USB or Ethernet connection to the computer without disconnecting from the RF network.

The LED indicators on the front of the modem clearly display the status of your connection. The lights not only give you the ability to quickly inspect the connection but they are good tools in troubleshooting any network problems. The modem supports up to 32 users with the addition of Ethernet routers or hubs.

The manufacturer suggests that this modem offers real-time gaming access. Unfortunately, for purposes of this review, my experience with the Motorola SURFboard SB5120 Cable Modem has been limited to Internet surfing and email applications. I am unable to speak for serious gamers but have no troubles listening to streaming radio broadcasts while surfing on-line.

Owning this modem does not come without a few disadvantages however. While the slim vertical design does conserve space, it still takes up space either on the desktop or in my case in the lower section of my desk. Since this is an external device, there is also the extra power adapter which further clutters this small confines in the computer section of my desk.

Experience To Date

So far this modem has offered near flawless operation. My use is generally restricted to Internet page loading, email, downloading of files, listening to streaming Internet media and on-line presentations. I have had absolutely no issues surfing on-line while simultaneously listening to streaming radio broadcasts. Page loads are nearly always instantaneous with only an occasional lag.

We did experience a disconnection from the network several times on only one evening. While the technical support line for Charter Communications did not report any outages in our area, twice within the same night, it took powering down our modem and reinitializing to regain our connection. I'm of the feeling this was a network related issue, not that of my new modem.

System Requirements

•Minimum 486/66 (Pentium processor preferred) or Macintosh-compatible CPU (Power PC)
•CD-ROM drive
•USB or 10/100 Base-T Ethernet connection port
•Ethernet connection compatible with Windows
95/98SE/2000/NT/Me/XP; Macintosh OS 8 or higher; Unix and Linux
•USB connection compatible with Windows 98SE/2000/NT/Me/XP
•Local cable provider connection with DOCSIS high speed data service


Price and Availability

I purchased this modem as part of acquiring new service through Charter Communications. The modem carried a purchase price of $79.99 but the folks at Best Buy offered a full purchase price rebate. In addition, by signing up for Charter's 3M access, I also received a $75.00 Best Buy card(also through a mail in rebate) and a $26.99 rate for the first 6 months.

The Motorola SURFboard SB5120 Cable Modem comes with a two year limited warranty. The manufacturer also offers consumers web-based technical support 24/7 or via a toll-free(1-877-466-8646) telephone number.

Serious on-line gamers may want to take the time to compare a few more options before making a final selection but I am sold. I have to give this modem a full 5-star recommendation since it has offered us a hassle free installation and complete reliability for day to day on-line surfing and email as well as both streaming and file downloads.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): Free**

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