Well, I had the vary question you asked an year back. But, some research gave me an optimum solution. See, basically all the stuff that comes with laptop, from manufacturer, can be classified into three categories,
- Device drivers,
In above three, 3rd category is what we can call BLOATWARE for sure. So, I'd recommend just to ignore this category. But, first and second category is actually something you should install, because the drivers and utilities are optimized for your laptop model. They do consist some tweaks and modifications that are best suited to your machine.
I also used to install drivers from hardware manufacturers instead of laptop manufacturers. But the outcome was little different.
- I installed Bluetooth and WiFi drivers from respective hardware manufacturers, but then I realized, Sony (since I own Vaio) provided this little utility, VAIO Smart Network, that allowed me to switch on/off either of two wireless services, Bluetooth and WiFi or both from my taskbar, which was indeed helpful when energy saving comes into picture.
- Then this another time, I got new Vaio with Sandy Bridge CPU and a discreet AMD GPU. When I installed drivers from AMD, I realized that I can not switch between AMD's discreet GPU and Sandy Bridge's Intel HD3000, which is essential for both performance and again energy saving cases, which was available when I installed drivers specifically designed for my Vaio from its support page.
- These Vaios come with some stupid application by Sony, VAIO Gate, which is indeed an eye-candy, that little glob hanging from top of the screen, but it occupies memory, and also takes lot of time to boot up. So I simply removed it.
All in all, I'd recommend you to install only drivers and utilities from laptop manufacturer and ignore the applications from them.
Hope it helps.