RPM files are ok but you don't get any optimizations for your system--Pentium 4 don't do well with RPM files. Also some RPM files don't come with special files that other programs need. Compiling a program takes care of those problems assuming you read the documentation and read through the ./configure --help. Uninstalling RPM files are a pain in the ass. They always depend on other RPM files. For a compiled program, you just delete its directory and the symbolic to the program.
For the RPM dependences problems, you can install apt-get or urpmi.
I like using source code first. If it doesn't work, I guess I had to tweak the source code or download the RPM file. For my library files, I use RPM files because I don't have a choice with my distribution. If I installed Slackware or FreeBSD, I would be compiling the library files. Though after a four months of using LINUX, I'm still a
. Maybe in a few years, I'll install either Slackware or FreeBSD.