Few years ago I was working for a small ISP in Iceland and had the opportunity to play and deploy a lot of Mikrotik routers, both there hardware and the x86 platform. There router platform is built on linux, is realy powerfull and extendable. And formost, it’s cheap.
For a home use, with xDSL og FFTH it’s a no-brainer to buy the 650mhz R2011 router, it has 5 Gigabit ports and 5 100 Mbit ports plus you can get it with WiFi and a SFP port. It can handle fine 100mbit/s NAT with out a problem. But that’s not all.
If you want to learn about routing (RIP, OSPF, BGP, MPLS), tunneling, vpn, L2-7 filtering and more just buy two or more for your lab.
Or do what me and few of my friends did. We assigned tunneling endpoints ip’s (ipip, gre) and private AS numbers to each other and get a real life routing lab over the internet.