Network Upgrade - So many spatial streams!

Way back in February, I freaked out and decided my network was due for an upgrade. Really jumped right on that research, eh? I've been living with this network since then, in all of it's 2MBps glory. After further investigation, it looks like it's a combination of these chincy Trendnet N adapters and the WRT54GL getting old. Whatever the case may be, I'm ready for an upgrade in a big way.

Taking a look at what's out there right now for simultaneous dual-band routers with guest networks, the Linksys E4200 by Cisco sticks out like a sore thumb. With the exception of 450Mbps G (300Mbps on G, 450Mbps on N), it has all the features and performance I could ask for. A quick search on DD-WRT support found that 'Support for the E4200 is still very much a work in progress,' so it looks like stock firmware is the only way to go. I've always had great luck with Linksys products, particularly the WRT54GL which I've recommended and installed for numerous people, including myself. 

Putting in my due dilligence, I checked out offerings from the other big players in the router space.

  • TRENDnet: These guys put out the TEW-692GR, which can do 450Mbps on both 2.4 and 5.0 GHz but there was very little user experience out there on the 'tubes. I couldn't find enough reviews by legitimate, trusted sites to even think about it.
  • D-Link: First of all, D-Link's website really sucks. Also, they also make way too many different routers. They should take a hint from Linksys and have a half dozen-ish clearly differentiated pieces of hardware. I've had bad luck with these guys in the past, so I'm going to stay away this time too.
  • Asus: I hadn't even thought about a router from these guys (they're into everything these days!) until I saw them pimping DD-WRT support on a banner ad. Their flagship product is the RT-N56U, which also happens to be, if I may, the absolute sexiest router I've ever seen. Look at this thing! I digress. None of Asus' offerings support 450Mbps N, nor do they have guest networks. Next.
RT-N56U - It's like a space ship landed to beam the internets into your head.

  • Netgear: The only real contender against the E4200 is Netgear's WNDR4000-100NAS N750. It has all the same features with equally sketchy DD-WRT support. What I like about this particular piece of harware is that it stands up vertically instead of laying flat. The E4200 looks like a dinner plate and takes up all sorts of space. Amazon and Newegg reviews were basically the same, as were the regular reviews strewn about the 'net. An interesting point: This guy supports IPV6 tunneling and the E4200 does not. This is a bummer, but not anything decisive. 
The real differentiator came with the adapters. With all this 450Mbps talk, you'd think there would be a plethora of choices for the wireless adapters on the PC side. Well, you'd be (and I was) wrong. 450 Mbps wireless N requires three spatial streams, and for whatever reason that additional 150Mbps stream is just too much for the majority of adapters. Turns out that only Trendnet sells 450Mbps adapters; one USB 2.0 and one ethernet. The only other way to achieve these data rates is with a mini PCI-express card from Intel. So with a grand total of one adapter to choose from (who want's ethernet? My MacBook Air doesn't even have ethernet.), which of these two routers has the best compatibility with Trendnet's USB offering, the TEW-648UB

The best I information I could gather regarding compatibility with these two routers was in, of all places, Amazon reviews. There were numerous success stories with the E4200, and nothing mentioning the N750. In Newegg's user reviews I found no mention of the E4200, but a negative comment about compatibility with a similar Netgear router. Now, I don't put much stake in user reviews unless there are hundreds of them in agreement, but this choice was really a coin toss. I'm going with the handful of commenters who had good luck. 

Final answer: Cisco E4200 with Trendnet TEW-648UB adapters. Ordered. Boom. Let's see what happens.