So I have been setting up vlans wrong all this time? Or is HW offloading not really worth it compared to the flexibility of the 'new vlan configurations???
It's not wrong. I believe that the bridge vlan-filtering is the way forward and that Mikrotik will improve HW offloading. It is, after all, the way to unify this part of ROS as well ... up to now the way to configure VLANs was largely dependent on the underlying hardware.
However, there are a few drawbacks of this new unified approach as currently implemented: the big one is loss of HW offload, which many times means drop in "switching" performance. Either due to weak RB CPU (this is the case with older devices, such as RB951G) or due to slow
interconnect between switch-chip and RB CPU (this is the case with most modern devices, such as RB962UiGS aka hAP ac) or both (think CRS125).
Whether performance in HW offload scenarios vs. SW only is worth the trouble it's up to everybody to decide. I've done my part of testing RB951G and RBD52G and have decided that RB951G will currently remain on old-school setup while RBD52G will get the new-school config. (In addition to that there are a few bugs in RBD52G's switch chip which makes device almost unusable with HW-offload setup but it's quite OK to use SW-only approach).
Again: HW offload works just fine if VLANs are not used at all, which is the case for most SOHO users. It works just fine even if bridge is used as dumb switch without vlan-filtering enabled (i.e. VLANs are configured on switch chip), in this case bridge ports show HW offload active.