Tony Northrup - co-author of MCTS 70-536: Application Development Foundation (which BTW totally sucks, a review will probably follow) - states in the same book the following:
I haven’t been able to reproduce the performance benefits of generics; however, according to Microsoft, generics are faster than using casting. In practice, casting proved to be several times faster than using a generic. However, you probably won’t notice performance differences in your applications. (My tests over 100,000 iterations took only a few seconds.) So you should still use generics because they are type-safe.
I haven't been able to reproduce such performance benefits myself (and I am, as a Certified .NET Butcher, way more reliable than MCTS books) - so I'd say the performance gain is "supposed" more than "significant", unless someone is able to prove it. Until that moment .NET Generic amazing performance will remain a myth.
If you know something more than me about this - please share.
P.S. BTW - isn't Tony Northrup real HOT (I'd rather date him over Wendy Sarret)?