Help me ditch my modem/router rental

Okay so I am ready to ditch my $7 / month modem/router combo rental and buy some crap for my home network.

My needs are very basic: 1 desktop, 1 laptop, 1 printer, 1 tablet, 2 phones - that's all of the networked devices in my home. The laptop, desktop, and printer are wired, not wireless, and although I need some type of wireless for the tablet and phones I could care less about wireless performance or coverage for the most part - I only need good speeds on the wired devices.

Basically I just want speeds as high as possible. I do a fair amount of both downloading and uploading from the desktop, streaming video and music, and online gaming - however only rarely will both computers be used at the same time. At the most maybe streaming video or playing games on the desktop while streaming video to the tablet, that's about it. So what is important to me is QoS capabilities (for prioritizing games, torrents etc), and really that's about it. I get 50 mbit down right now so I have the bandwidth and the demand for high speed.

Most of the routers I've seen knowledgable people recommend have been either the Mikrotik 951g (uses proprietary linux based OS) or the Ubiquiti edgerouter lite (uses some type of debian). Mikrotik has wifi, Ubiquiti is supposedly faster but does not have wifi built in, would have to get a separate WAP.

Alternatively, I could get the motorola sbg6782, which is a modem / router combo (I would have to get a motorola modem anyway for cable), supposedly the wireless performance on this is not all that good but I really don't care about that. It does have QoS which is really the main feature I'm looking for. Obviously probably not as good performance as a router like the mikrotik / ubiquiti but then again with my minimal needs would I actually notice the difference?

Another option: just buy a modem, connect it to my desktop, and use the desktop as a wifi hotspot for the wireless devices. I have a dual NIC motherboard, so perhaps I could connect the laptop to the other NIC port and connect that way using a static IP? Can I put an unmanaged switch on that 2nd NIC as long as the devices on the switch all have static IP's? I don't really have a strong understanding of how doing it this way may impact my desktop's performance during gaming etc. but it's definitely the cheapest option. Of course the desktop would have to be taking care of firewall and NAT duties, would it be able to handle all of that without degrading performance? If performance wouldnt be an issue, the only real downside to this option is that wifi would go down briefly whenever I rebooted the desktop to switch operating systems (which I do about once a day), and I would have to configure the hotspot on each OS. 

Lastly, I could build an Alix unit and load it with pfsense or openwrt and use that. Definitely the most 'fun' option, unfortunately also the most expensive.

What say ye syndicate? Which option is most effective? Anything I have overlooked? I'm just starting to get deeper into this networking stuff, looking for an education from the more experienced among thee :-)

I personally would go with a modem and a separate wire/wireless router. Although I do not own one myself, a few of my friends have the Motorola Surfboard for a modem, and they have never really had any problems.

As for a router, any home router wireless router would be fine. Preferably something that supports DD-WRT. If you are looking for something cheep, the Linksys WRT54GL has always been a popular choice.

Who is your ISP? You want to make sure you use a cable modem that is supported by your ISP

Any Linksys WRT54 series router will be ballliinnnnn. And they are all flashable with DD-WRT (running mini build on my WRT54GS2) They are pretty cheap too. The stock Linksys firmware isn't half bad but in my exp. DD-WRT is more fun, stable, and has loads of extra features, even with the mini build that I'm running. I have a lot more stable ping in games than I did with me ISP provided router/modem combo. Don't know my modem model number though.