FWIW, since everyone is posting their favorites, here goes mine.
I like gnome. (yes I know.. I said it)... but I hate the default configuration. With that said, I *always* take out the dual panels (hate my menus on the top of the screen, and just the overall gnome menu), configure a single panel, on the bottom, add my hacked version of the mintmenu, couple of launchers, followed by the task bar, pager, notification area, and clock.
The end result is a beautiful panel with a jaw-dropping menu.
I know it's still gnome, and heavy as it is, but... You have to hand it out to those guys, it really does everything... and I mean everything. From printer auto-configure to seemless file sharing with samba, linux, etc. I figured, I have the hardware resources to run it... why not?