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Just upgraded to an nvidia 5700 from ATI 9200 I know it is not much but Now everything is flying with the xcomposite changes compare to when I used ATI.
KDE support for xcomposite surpasses gnome at the moment, I have both right now (KDE 3.4 and gnome 2.8.2 on Gentoo).
ATI has the benefit on running on lower watts, but the lack of good drivers in linux is not helping them.
I got a NVidia quadro FX 4000 at work which does around 12000 fps (glxgears) on SuSe 9.2... The first thing I do is to get the KDE 3.4 and composite thingie working on it. I think beside nice looks composite adds to efficiency. You just need to get used to it and find your ways with it.
It is still little buggy but with the speed Xorg is moving I think Microsoft is going to have a very tough competitive in a year or 2.