Once you get how hexing works, it's not any more difficult then using VSB.
In fact, I know out of own experience that VSB takes a few weeks to really get the hang of it and to learn the location of all resources.
But if you don't mind spending 22 bucks on VSB, it is a fantastic peace of software engineering.
I bought it a while ago and am very pleased about it.
But I still use a resource hacker a lot. Gives me a feeling of control.
And one more advice if you're into hexing :
check out www.deviantart.com
and search for the page of UKintel.
He's got a few very good hex guides for vista, and most of them can also be applied in Windows 7.