I've actually found the GCC and G++ compilers to be the best for general purpose. And as an added bonus they are both free. I would recommend you download Dev-C++. It is an editor that comes packaged with these two compilers.
If you are compiling specifically for an x86 machine and want the best optimizations then you should look into the Intel C++ compiler (though this is not free).
C or C++ ... the two are quite different from each other
Hmm, I think these two languages are more similar to each other than any other pair of languages I know. Particularly if you consider that almost any C program is also a valid C++ program. What other two languages can you say that about?