You can use one of three methods to access data from a list in SharePoint 2010. Sure there are other ways but these are the common OOB mechanisms.
The methods for encapsulating queries are:
- Content Query WebPart
- List views with metadata navigation
There are advantages and disadvantages for each of these approaches.
Metadata & List View Navigation – When you use list view, there is a brokering that occurs to sponsor access to the SQL server backend. This results in the query being performed slower. You will also use the most HTML when you do list views, so there is a longer period of time for each page to successfully load. However, list views do offer you the best way to configure views, filter the data, and to perform a variety of actions. The metadata navigation can be used to filter view results as well. Any time you need rich column data to access a list though you generally need to use list views. For high read scenarios though, the other are many other query methods that can offer you better results.
Content Query Web Part – The Content Query Web Part allows for statically configured views of data to be seen that are cached through the Portal Site Map Provider. The goal is to offer better overall performance, and its noticable. The Content Query Web Part allows for the least amount of HTML to be used so the pages load faster and you can have more than one query being executed per page.
Search Queries – Search should be used when you need to load queries to a system optimized to find content rather than editing properties. Search queries are configured to all for the use of static or user specific queries. They offer high performance levels but the data may not always be current. Sometimes the results will be older than what you get from list views. It all depends on when the most recent crawl occurred.