If used correctly, surface models can rebuild faster than solid models, if the end geometry looks the same. This statement requires quite a few disclaimers, though. You have to be modeling specifically to minimize rebuild times, and you have to be very careful when you use features like trim, combine, and knit. The basis is that creating solid geometry always requires a "merge" function that requires quite a bit of trimming and knitting, and this is true for every feature. There is also the opportunity to use signficantly less faces (half or less) so there are less faces to compute.
Eventually, though, most people require a solid body for the end result. So, are you talking about the end result being a surface body? I typically use surface bodies because I have to. Solid body functions do not accomplish what I need. If you can build it with solid bodies or surface bodies, I typically just use solid bodies. Are you talking about using the "boundary-solid" tool, or the "solid loft" tool?
Ed Eaton discusses this question in one of his presentations:
I'm pretty sure it is in "Surfacing for Blockheads" and might very well be in one of the earlier Curvy Stuff series.
These go back quite a ways, so the boundary surface tool isn't covered much, but are still a good introduction to the basics.
Another very good source is Matt Lombard's Surfacing Bible.