laszlof: done the profiling. done some comparisons, to my surprise, the queries are actually faster in eloquent. I guess it's the processing involved with eloquent that makes the page slow that .02 seconds longer. that in itself isn't a big thing to worry about
the results may very well be different if i had many many more records but... as it stands, its ok.
and I guess with the upcoming release of PHP 7 which is said to be "up to 2 times faster", that would drop those load times.