Several popular graphics cards out there - especiall NVIDIA ones - exhibit performance problems with KDE4. These performance hits mostly concern Plasma - the KDE4 desktop - and KWin - the KDE window-manager. Generally speaking this isn't due to KDE4 being unoptimized but a problem with the cards' graphics drivers. This page encompasses certain problems that might arise and how to get rid of them.
This section summarizes several symptoms you might encounter and tries to explain possible causes.