Thinking about it a little more, I decided there is something I can do, if only to amuse myself really.
I'm setting up a virtual network of machines that will be linked to each other, with at least one link to the internet (maybe all will have net connections for the AV update. Trying to figure that out). The idea is that one computer can surf and play without any protection, while linked to each of the other computers, all of which will be running a different operating system and AV. With the "snapshot" feature of VirtualBox, I can hotswap different AVs into the various operating systems to gauge their effectiveness against patient0.
The 4 computers are: patient0, The Blonde, The Burnette, and the Redhead. patient0 and The Blonde are running Windows XP sp2, I'm trying to get XP Pro on the Burnette, and hopefully Windows 7 on the Redhead. Although I am considering switching up Vista for the Blonde; I'm running into many home users who didn't have the sense to upgrade these days.
But Fang, how effective is this actually?
For all this, my personal testing really won't amount to much more than seeing how the various AVs feel on a system. Listen: there are people who do this AV stuff for a living; who run Viruses through large, non-simulated closed networks against various AVs to determine their various strengths. I'm just one guy doing part-time repair. And while I can get viruses by running shit unsecured, There's no guarantee that I will get whatever particular virus is infecting whatever particular system. We're tech savvy users; browsing the chans for years, I'd assume we all have various AVs and Firewalls along with blocking software like Firefox with adblock and Noscript. But even running vanilla IE, there's still a question of whether I would actually get a virus, because I just don't think like your average computer user.
For kicks, there's a test virus here: http://www.eicar.org/anti_virus_test_file.htm
But this in now way simulates real world situations