On Sunday, my WRT54G of 5 to 6 years died after a power flicker. I haven't shopped for a router since I bought the WRT54G (a v1.1 too!) so I was clueless as to what router was worth anything. At first I purchased a Netgear WPN824v3 but the network was limiting my download speeds to 100kb/sec, regardless of how fast the download server was. Webpages loaded fine, just downloads suffered. Netgear support was no help, and were very rude with me during the whole process. After staying with them for 3 hours they were unable to figure out what the problem was. I hung up and returned the router today.
I then bought a Belkin F5D8236-4 v2 today. I thought this would fix the problem but it gave similar poor performance. One other common issue between the Netgear and Belkin was that calls made in Skype would lag even if there were only 3 or 4 others in the call. On my old WRT54G I never had this issue.
For a speed comparison: I attempted to download a This Week In Tech podcast, which through the router would only get up to 100kb/sec download rate. When plugged directly into the modem, I would get speeds maintained at 500kb/sec and above. My WRT54G router had a similar speed to the direct modem connection.
Another issue I have is skype conferences. I used to host conferences with up to 10 participants without a hitch on my WRT54G router. Unfortunately the calls begin to lag and people slowly drop and are unable to hear each other after some time. During this time I cannot load webpages or they load very slowly.
Basically what I am getting is that no matter what router I buy these days, there is something in there that isn't being set up properly or that there is some newfangled built-in firewall or useless feature that is harming my connection rather than helping it. What I would like is for this router to perform like my old one did. Is that even possible? I hope so. I miss how everything through my old router just worked and it never gave me any hassle, but two routers in a row from different manufacturers give me the exact same problems. Any help would be appreciated.
Chances are the new routers should work better than an old one, but rather than waste hours finding out why they don't I would just buy a a replacement WRT54G on e-bay -- it's presumably an 802.11g wireless router so it should perform okay (though frankly your quoted best speeds with ethernet aren't exactly speedy).