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XRenderAccel requires very little support. Both major vendors drivers should work fine with it. Compositing requires a bit more..
It, like every program ever written, requires fairly modern hardware. It feels fine with nv and a duron 1GHz, and the same on a 700 celeron with trident card.
"Telling people to use hardware acceleration is not an excuse for what they're seeing."
Would you rather have highly flexible and powerful applications which look good or ugly ones with a weak API that run blazingly fast?
If you've found performance problems in gnome or gtk, please feel free to use your time to fix them and send in patches. Otherwise, complain about serious problems not "I can just barely see the app draw a few things."