Filters Versus Category Performance

We have around 2200 products with features "brand" and "artist". We have a category for every brand and artist, for a total of around 550 categories and add the relevant categories to each product when we create it. So not only do our products have values for brand and artist features but also for corresponding categories. I am wondering about the performance of a category search versus a filter on one of these features and also resource usage of large number of filters versus category searches. Seems the filters might be less efficient in both ways while the categories would have no overhead compared to searches.

We have not used CS-Cart brands but I am considering using them, and filters for artists, depending on whether our site will work well with them. CS-Cart brand or manufacturer type offers SEO advantages- does a filter offer similar advantages?

Regarding filters in general, they modify a found set of records in the browser, correct?

Thanks for any insights.