Okay, here's the update.
WinXP install took *THREE* hours to finish. Bootup is respectably fast (maybe even faster than my previous Hitachi 40GB HDD), but for some reason once in Windows everything slows to a crawl. I timed copying about 50MB of files off a USB flash drive and it took 2 minutes, which worked out to 426.67K/sec., or just under 3X speed. The progress bar sped across while reading from the flash drive, and then went from "5 seconds remaining" to "2 minutes remaining" and slowed to a crawl once writing began.
Windows does report that the card is using "Ultra DMA Mode 4" (actually my OS and data drives are both reporting that), but obviously that cannot be the case, or else something else is seriously slowing things down. Any ideas? My thought is it's gotta' be some kind of setting somewhere ...
I'm trying to install the Intel chipset drivers, thinking maybe that will help recognize the HDD controller properly, but the installer keeps crashing.
Hopefully I'll get that part working; maybe it's the fix.
Incidentally I have a 512MB SD card in the reader right now, and that operates at a nice speedy pace. So it seems it's just my "IDE" CF cards that are bogging down in speed.
The IBM-setup includes tons of unnecessary stuff.
I didn't do a restore; I did a clean install from an actual Microsoft OEM CD.
I'm tempted to take the second card and try a FAT32 file system install to see if it makes a difference in speed.
Does the X40/X41 card reader support a 4 GB SD-card? I'd really like to know. There are several 4 GB SD cards. Not all readers can handle them. SD specification limits them to 2 GB.
Not sure on this, but if I get one I'll post the result here.
I feel like I'm "so close" on this one, but right now the performance is pretty unusable. Yet, being so close, I don't want to give up just yet! ADDENDUM:
after backreading DVormann's post of 11/4 with the read/write speed tests, I noticed results similar to mine on the extremely slow write speeds for the 133X card:
350-400 kB/s write with < 2 % CPU load
This is roughly in line with my 426.67K/sec. figure. And we were using different interfaces, CardBus on DVormann's setup, and UDMA/IDE for mine. This leads me to be almost sure it's the card (as I suspected for the "cheap" route, you get what you pay for).
I'm going to pick up a SanDisk Extreme IV (40MB/sec.; $189.95 + tax @ B&H Photo (bhphotovideo.com for those of you who can't just go to their store--joys of living in NYC!)) card when I leave the office, and try it out later on. Unfortunately it'll be an 8GB, but if it does the trick I'll deal with the reduced OS drive space for now (next year they'll surely have bigger ones available), and perhaps reallocate the spare Transcend card as another data drive, or upgrade that iPod Mini ... who knows.
BTW, I was trying a FAT32 installation just now, and it isn't making much of a difference. Hence, again, "it must be the card".