When you refer to the cycles, I'm assuming you're talking about the number of samples to render?
Render cycles == Render samples.
I found that changing that number to a higher and higher value greatly improves on the graininess. However, even just at 20 samples, it took around two minutes to fully render the image. I'm sure if I bumped it up even higher, it would take upwards of 30 minutes for one image.
And lowering the roughness also really help with those pesky fireflies. As to the Blender render, I tried using it but could not understand shading something with it very well. Cycles has a lot of preset values for new users it seems but the Blender Render gives you more control. Or at least, that's what I can deduce.
Rendering requires patients, and if your are balking at 2 to 30 minutes, then you are not going to get anywhere with rendering 3D models. (I’ve done single renders that have taken around 10 hours, and video sequences that took far longer than that).
As far as rendering goes 2 minutes is nothing, and 30 minutes is typical for a medium quality, lite complexity, standard definition render on a decent computer…
One thing to keep in mind between the two renderers is that Cycles starts at the top, and Blender render starts at the bottom.
Cycles is slow because it starts with everything on and geared towards maximum output.
To make it respond better many features should be turned down or turned off unless you are intending to work on the bleeding edge of high def media such as 8k, 10k, or 12k and up.
Light bounces are just one example and they are a render time killer...
So use less because odds are that unless you are making some super hi-res definition movie, you simply don’t need many and likely won't even notice a difference.
So under the Light Paths panel (under the Render tab), set the Min to 0 (try 1 if 0 makes the scene look a little dingy), and set the Max to a low setting like 3 or 4.
The default settings of Min 3 and Max 8 is completely unnecessary for most all common situations.
Another is Transparency bounces, if you are using any transparent materials in your scene, that will kill your render times.
The default is Min 8, Max 8, which like the Light bounces is unnecessary for most scenes.
So try setting it to whatever you set the light bounces Max to, if you use 4, then set the Transparency Min and Max to 4 as well.
Other things to try to improve the general speed of Cycles...
If you have a supporting Nvidia graphics card, try enabling CUDA.
Go to File > User Preferences > System, then under the “Compute Device” section you can enable CUDA.
Once done, in the Render panel you can enable “GPU Compute” rendering which will be much faster (but again only if supported).
And another thing, change your tile size, the default is (I think) 64 x 64, which is either a little high, or very low depending on render computation method.
If CPU rendering, use fewer vs. more tiles such as 8 x 8, 16 x 16, or 32 x 32.
But if GPU rendering, use more vs. less such as 128 x 128, 256 x 256, or 512 x 512.
And always use a quantity of tiles that is a power of 2 for all render methods.
There's other things that can be done to improve speed, though they would be more scene dependent and become more of a trade off with quality.
On the other side of things with Blender render, everything is quick, but also at the minimum of quality so things need to be turned on to look good (of course this slows everything down a bit), but it’s how you get that nice look.
In the World tab, turn on Ambient Occlusion, and Environment Lighting.
(If things are too bright, change the Ambient Occlusion setting from Add to Multiply).
Also be aware of your Subsurface Scattering settings for materials, using SSS with Ambient Occlusion can look really nice with the right settings.
And combining those with Indirect Lighting (in the World tab), can allow for very nice special lighting effects, especially when using materials setup to emit light.
Finally, for outdoor scenes you can use the Sky & Atmosphere settings with a Sun lamp (it will be in the lamps "Object data" properties), and it will automatically setup a fully dynamic sky based on the angle of the Sun lamp.
There's far more that can be done with Blender render, but those are just a few good things to try out to improve the look of light and shading.