Newer versions of Raspbian have made overclocking more or less official. It's right there when you do the initial setup now. I've found that bumping the clock to 1Ghz helps it a lot more than you would think. Even though it's only 300 extra Mhz, it feels twice as fast. I think the memory clock gets bumped as well, which makes a big difference. The only downside is that it gets warmer, but using the built-in temp monitor mine never goes above 60C despite being inside a stuffy box. The chip is rated up to 90C I think and there is some built-in monitoring on Raspbian (caveat: have not checked other distros) to throttle it back if it runs too hot.
I do have a -B model with 512MB of RAM though, and even that feels tight. 256 is not enough for what the little box can do.
Still, it's been a couple of years, the very least they could do is bump the base clock to 1Ghz, even if they aren't going to move to a more modern ARM processor. The GPU is still the same old PowerVR monstrosity too. There's a tradeoff with these little SBCs. You can go with a different company and get something much more capable, but at the cost of the large community of users and peripherals designed specifically for the Pi. You'll be the one debugging weird issues instead of finding someone else who has already hit it and figured out the solution 3 years ago.