As I'm sure you know, nVidia is one of the few HW cards on Linux that lacks good 2d. All the alternatives either don't boot at all, or provide very good 2d (including the cheap, non-nVidia non-ATI cards ... which the majority of desktop users want).
Saying that, I haven't seen big problems with nVidia cards I've been forced to use ... at least not to the extent of draw updates being noticable when doing email. It's mostly things like the nv driver doesn't do dual screen etc. ... but then I try and use working HW (duh), so I don't spend much time with the nv driver.
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