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ZFR: My only issue with Avast is that it lately it started coming up with those popups way too often, making it close to becoming an annoying adware in itself.

Now I understand that using a free product means I have to live with ads, but this is getting ridiculous. Last month I was getting "Did you know it takes you n seconds to boot up?" almost daily. Not only my boot up is pretty fast, every single of my startup programs or services is accounted for and I do know what I'm doing. Thankfully it's quieted down a bit now, and since I've been using it for almost 10 years now, I'll stick with it.

I am considering a pay version though. Avast or Kaspersky.
Just use silent/gaming mode. I haven't seen a popup since doing that. It will give you the really important ones, but the "update now" ones aren't there.