I’ve been doing quite a bit of messing around with text rendering on Linux recently. I’ve got a lovely setup which looks absolutely wonderful. It puts the font rendering on Windows to shame.
Interestingly, there is quite a performance difference between my laptop and my desktop, when using identical setups. Using gtkperf, the laptop takes ~2.28 seconds to complete the hardcore text test. The same test on my desktop takes ~22.4 seconds. So, it’s about 10 times slower. It turns out to be the subpixel smoothing that does it. With just grayscale smoothing, it takes <1 second for the test. A hell of a speedup, but the subpixel smoothing is oh so good.
I know nVidia has had some interesting problems with pre-6xxx cards, especially when rendering colored text (with the closed-source driver). My desktop uses such a card. My laptop uses an Intel i950, which so far has been a tremendously good card.
So, to Intel: start making some standalone AGP / PCIe graphics cards! I’ll buy at least two! (As long as they’re not terribly expensive)