Avast! somehow increasing boot times eightfold... Nah, that's gotta be some serious PEBKAC. It's routinely among the highest rated AVs out there. Also, it definitely asks you if you want to install its Fx addon.
For free AVs:
Avast! Avira MSE Panda
For paid AVs:
Bitdefender Kaspersky ESET
AFAIK these are all ranked pretty highly, with Kaspersky being rated the highest.
I recommend Comodo internet security, it's a pretty good and it's free version doesn't bother you about buying it.The only issues is the game mode being very weird if you use a controller and you need to manually add most programs you want to run in the exceptions as it tries to block them.
I don't know if MSE is doing anything since I don't need to touch it at all.
To be fair most people wouldn't know if any AV is actually working unless it annoys the crap out of them with popups. Look at it like a flu shot, you get one as a preventative measure and if nothing happens you take it on faith that it's functioning as intended because if it weren't, the consequences would generally be obvious.
Of course if you really wanted to check you could always read the scan logs.