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Gnome feels much faster with video hardware that supports acceleration of the Render extension, it also is noticably faster when using a compositing manager, of course this results in more instability of X.
Try adjusting your DPI setting to be true to your monitor/resolution, and after that adjust your font sizes. (I prefer 11pt fonts). Also there are themes that make widgets smaller as this is typically adjustable in the engine.
I've not experienced many weird behaviours, perhaps you could let us know what they are? A bug is a bug, and should get reported.