I would find it more interesting to get more ideas about exactly what people mean by 'it's not so customisable'. I mean, exactly what is the problem here?
I've been using Mate for a while now, but after making a second install of Mate with Petra I opened my terminal and threw Cinnamon on too. I hated it.... so many headaches bring back memories of all the gnome v kde arguments back - with the new gnomes it's more an argument that it's tied down too much.
What it boils down to is what you're doing with your computer. In my case, primary function is media.... and the main failing of Mint for me is the nasty sound if I select 5.1 - I really can only have 2 channel digital sound (same with my old HP desktop via digital cable - even though I now have a Gigabyte motherboard with 5.1 built in...).
Apart from that, Plex server runs well, and media plays similarly on all desktops. I can't figure out a way to fix my 'next' or 'previous' track media keys in Mate... so listening to music means I must either keep banshee open, or log into Cinnamon.
Past that - Synapse is my main starting point, that works well everywhere. I'm beginning to be impressed more by the theming in Cinnamon - I have blackMate theme and noticed when I opened Chromium that it does not have the nasty default theme - GTK has made it match so I don't need to set a theme to match it to my desktop.
It's not quite so easy to drag stuff to the panel, and it's not quite so easy to have extra panels. Docky works nicely and window animations are back (compiz is surely a dead horse - and I always missed certain aspects of it) though Cinnamon doesn't let windows minimise down to docky - removing the panel applet means they will simply minimise into their own centre...
The ALT+F1 menu has gone. That's a bit weird... One thing I liked with Mate is that once you remove the menu from the panel, it pops up wherever your mouse is when you hit ALT+F1.... but for browsing for forgotten apps, the new menu seems fine so far.... Menus are only for when you forgot what you want anyway, right?
From 2007 one of the main things that impressed me is the Windows menu - just hit the Windows key and start typing.... so I'd say that even synapse (or gnome-do) isn't so vital a part of my desktop as it used to be...
I'm more impressed with the general changes.... Now my box is 9 metres away from the focal point - I sit with wireless keyboard and mouse and look at my TV screen - but can easily go back to my monitor when someone switches to Plex and starts watching movies there.
Cinnamon has a very friendly attitude to creating custom launchers which are easily added to the menu - previously I relied on a small side panel, though I'm still evolving in this respect.... but my photography workflow still works nicely - in fact a little better with the working media keys taking the task of managing music away from my mouse (Banshee shortcuts only work with Banshee focussed.... Don't Mate developers understand the reason that media keys were invented so many years ago? Sometimes I don't want to look at a screen, I turn that off and just listen to music...).
Plexhometheater is a slightly different matter. It may need fixing - but without 5.1 working I'm stuck with Plex mostly... I have noticed a few nasty flickers with Plexhometheater which I didn't notice in Mate. Perhaps my new Cinnamon desktop is just a tad too flashy.
Once we've stopped playing around with the bells and whistles, however, it's just down to the workflow. How easy is it do get a screen up, do what you're doing, and then get back to your life?
I'm hoping to get my computing time down to a bare minimum again. It started taking over again - the whole reason I stopped using windows.... bored with having to maintain, needing to keep up to date with current software trends (mostly becoming an expert with malware management and finding the least intrusive tools to repair registry, analyse and remove malware etc etc).
Getting there... i3 now with HD4400 graphics - no more headaches setting up nVidia or ATI. No more fan noise - shhhhh little box, just blink quietly away in the corner and do your thing while I go and read a story for my son.
The best desktop? None of them - no desktop is best! Turn your monitor off and get on with your life.