I'm thinking of giving BSD 7 a try (when I can get on the server!). I've never, ever tried it before, but there was a bit I noticed in the Handbook which talks about reducing the CPU utilisation under VMWare - would this work on a normal installation?
Set boot loader variables
The most important step is to reduce the kern.hz tunable to reduce the
CPU utilization of FreeBSD under the VMWare environment. This is
accomplished by adding the following line to /boot/loader.conf:
Without this setting, an idle FreeBSD VMWare guest OS will use roughly
15% of the CPU of a single processor iMac. After this change the usage
will be closer to a mere 5%.
Like I say - I don't know doodly-squit about BSD, but I hope this helps (if I can get the iso downloaded by the weekend I may be able t try it and post!).