Azazeel, my take on this is that IE8 works well for me, despite all of the negative impressions that some folks have. I don't find IE8 to be appreciably faster than Firefox 3.5, but I also don't find FF 3.5 to be noticeably faster than IE8. They are both quite snappy to the point that I don't even think about speed much.
These browsers are fast for me, I expect, because I have broadband service, a relatively fast PC (for web browsing), and a fairly fresh install. Like you, I am running Windows 7 RTM x64 and only installed it a few days ago.
As for IE8, I have had it installed for a while now, since it first was released in the full version (no betas or RCs). It has not given me any trouble and I really like the support that it has for the latest web standards. However, I have seen the threads in this forum where some folks have had trouble that went away when they rolled back from IE8 to IE7. It is because of those incidents, I expect, that IE8 has gotten a bad reputation with some people.