OK thanks bleb. I guess that for the same operations display lists execute much faster that vertex arrays.
Yeah, using a display list to draw some geometry will be faster than a vertex array, but the drawback is that the display list cannot be altered without completely redefining it, wheras you can put different data into the vertx array with no penalty.
Thus, use display lists for stuff that is not likely to change. There's also a certain number of opengl calls below which using a display list to batch them up is counter-productive, but I forget what it is. Be on the safe side and pack as much stuff in there as possible.
When you say video card, do you mean the framebuffer?
No, I mean the actual video hardware. Display lists are stored in VRAM, so they can be executed directly without any transfer from main memory to the video hardware. Vertex arrays reside in main memory, and so must be transfered to the video card every frame.