My powerheads are Marineland Penguin. They work well, but I have not had another namebrand to compare.
I don't think you would need a very powerful one to run a sponge, just want to get some water pumped through to help the bacteria grow, Thinking a smaller model would be fine, maybe a larger one if you want more traped dirt.
The powerheads do seem to clog up faster with a sponge connected. I have been pulling the powerheads apart almost weekly for cleaning.
The bottom side of the powerhead, where the water is getting sucked in, is where you want to attach the sponge.
This part can be a little tricky, because all powerheads are not the same. If you can connect the lift tube to the underside (intake) of the powerhead and have the spong filter hanging down from the lift tube, that is the recommended way. One of my powerheads, the lift tube would not fit, so I placed the bottom of the powerhead directly in the sponge and it is working well. I also have a water pump in one tank, I could not get the sponge or lift tube to fit the intake, so the sponge is being held in place with a rubberband.