For morbid curiosity, I decided to format the laptop again and enable UEFI as well as Secure Boot. With the bootup speed advantages of UEFI boot, I was able to get my machine to cold boot into Windows 8 in just under 10 seconds from power button press to the logon screen. That is with the "hybrid boot" enabled.

In legacy BIOS mode, without "Hybrid boot", my power on time was 21 seconds. By enabling "hybrid boot", my boot time went to around 14.5 seconds. By going to UEFI mode with hybrid boot mode enabled, my boot time is around 9.1 seconds.