It's all about the speed

If speed is your main concern here are the 4 tips you need. 1 and 2 are both on the main tips page. 3-7 are only on this page.

GUI Speed:
1. Antialiasing takes a lot of CPU time - Tinkertool
2. Shadows take a decent amount - WindowshadeX
3. Transparent Menus probably take a tad - Duality
4. Window Compression seems to help - WinCompressX

General Speed:
5. Swap Drive - [Advanced]If you have a second hard disk (for optimal performance) or second partition on your current drive, you may use a second disk for your swap space. There are plenty of complete articles on how to do this, here Resexcellence and here MacOSXhints
6. Prebinding - I won't explain it, but this will make your applications launch faster. If you want a complete explanation type man update_prebinding (but don't tell you I didn't warn you =P). Most of the software you run should be prebound these days by the time you try it. But it can never hurt to make sure. Here is the command you need to run. update_prebinding -root / make sure you do it as root or sudo it. OR get Xoptimise
7. Partition your drive - Hard disks spin at a constant rate and have a consistent data density. Therefore on the outside of the disk the data rate will be higher. (e.g. a drive may run 40megs/sec on the outside and 20megs a second on the inner tracks). If you put your swap/os/apps all in areas on the outer rim of the disk you will see some performance increases. Since HD's read from outside in, put the data on the first partition you want to go the fastest.

Extras: Ok these aren't speed tips and they should go on the main tips page but there are already 9 tips =P
8. Cee Pee You - Simple, free, unobtrusive CPU monitor.
9. Visage - Allows you to change the login screen, boot up screens and a few others.

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