I'm aware that the old "performance improvement" trick of disabling Aero is a fallacy, in that all it achieves is to get the CPU to render the desktop rather than the GPU, and so (assuming a decent GPU) gives you nothing at best and a slowdown at worst.
However, I actually prefer the old "Windows 95" look with square buttons and flat bars; I've always hated eye candy in computing, and I prefer my GUIs to be as graphically simple as possible (I'm also more than a little nostalgic).
If I go in the performance settings I have the option to keep desktop composition on, but to disable visual styles on windows and buttons. Will this leave desktop rendering to the GPU while disabling the eye candy, or is my only choice for having the old-style visuals to disable Aero entirely?
Edit: what about the "Windows classic" theme in the personalization options? Does that keep Aero running?