So far I've used guiminer and phoenix. i find Phoenix is a lot faster. are there any miners faster than phoenix?
Depends on what OS you are using, what card, and what version of the API.
I personally have found phoenix to be fastest with my 5870s. However, for my 6870, I don't see a difference between phoenix and poclbm.
Note that phoenix, poclbm, and cgminer are all accessible through guiminer, although, at least for me, cgminer needed a separate download.
cgminer has an impressive front end that allows you control the memory and core speeds of your cards, has support for backup mining pools (in case the main one isn't responding in a timely manner, it'll switch automatically), and can combine the output of multiple cards/cores into one "miner" on a pool.
From my experience, cgminer worked well when I had a 5970 because I couldn't get MSI afterburner to control the 2nd core. However, with my 5870s, not only did it run slower than phoenix, it caused my cards to run hotter.
I've also found that I get my hash out of XP than I do windows 7.
Lastly, play with your parameters to the miner to see what works best for you. For example, on xp, I found intensity/aggression of 7 is ideal for my 5870s. Any higher, my CPU usage goes through the roof with no increased output from my cards. However, on windows 7, I seem to get slightly more output with negligible CPU change with aggression=12 on my 6870.
I'm using the 2.1 api.
My experiences with linux has been dismal so far.. haven't managed to get one successful miner running yet.