Thanks for the links, https://itfirstaid.ca/server-optimization/ recommends using linux and deeming this post to be a windows slowness subject, maybe i'll change the title...
the mysql refman states that 128MB is the default but when leave that option out in the my.ini i see 8MB in phpmyadmin->information_shema->innodb_pool_stats so maybe XAMPP->MYSQL (which is mariadb actually) is using some other setting which i have yet to find
the last link is the most informative and worth a read
it's probably not true that anyone is running a system like the one that the my.ini shipped in the bundled version
"This is for a system with little memory (<= 64M) where MySQL is only used from time to time and it's important that the mysqld daemon doesn't use much resources"