windows 7 custom/dark aero theme?

interpolator
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thomasp interpolator
having recently been alerted to a workaround to performance problems i've experienced in running marmoset and photoshop on my trusty windows classic themed setup, i switched to the default aero theme for now and to my delight found the performance problems solved.

however, now my eyes are bleeding, this theme is just awful to look at.
after a bit of googling it appears one cannot simply alter aero theme colors or behaviour in any way and installing custom themes requires patching windows with a tool? most of this information seems years old - is this: http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/28377-theme-how-apply-custom-themes.html still the way to go with a recent windows patch level in 2015?
and will it carry over across system updates or does it have to be re-applied all the time?

i'm asking here since i assume there will be people working in this field who don't accept glaring white UI and annoying window animations all over the place. :*

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