I am so glad you made this thread, because I wanted to get all testimonial about Cinnamon as well. I've been using Linux Mint since 11 - not long, but I'm a former Mac Nut. Love 'em, I do - but Apple's gotten too long in the tooth and their arrogance is just too much for my needs. Great for the average user, but being here means I'm not. I'm down with that.
I laid hands on a Toshiba laptop circa 2006 with a nice processor and garbage graphics (1.8Ghz T1350 + 945GM), and Linux Mint 12 was a hassle to get running well. It never did - i managed to get Cairo Dock (GL mode) installed and that helped, but hard drive polling just made the experience very tedious whenever I had too many apps running. Still, it was better than trying to run Windows on this beast. It's a great laptop, really - and it shines with Mint 13.
Pushing it just as hard as I did under 12 no longer drags the machine to a staggering halt. I can't wait to get more RAM and an SSD for it.
The hardware accelerated graphics were a stroke of brilliance.
Not only is the machine usable, but it feels fast, even with extra software installed. It's got a "mesely" 1GB of RAM, but you lot have really outdone yourselves. Ubuntu's Unity interface is the wrong direction for desktop usage. Unity makes sense for touch interfaces and mobile devices, but for the touchpad and keyboard centric, the traditional experience is mandatory.
You all got it right, and I am so grateful for that.
I've needed a lot of patience to learn enough to be comfortable with this OS, but I don't regret a moment of it.