I can only say: in my experience, Mint 18.1 is just fine.
The Cinnamon edition has a problem on one of my rigs, which is probably hardware dependent (a race condition which may have something to do with the non-free Nvidia driver). However, the Xfce edition of that same 18.1 doesn't have that race condition on that machine, and runs perfectly well.
On all of the other machines that I've put 18.1 on, be it Cinnamon or Xfce: no problems whatsoever. Let's not forget that on this forum, unsurprisingly, we almost only hear about problems. After all, that's what this forum is for....
But that does not give an indication of the quality of 18.1. Sure, we hear little about problems with 17.x. But that's because the 17.x users usually installed their OS long ago; they've already solved any problems they may have had in the beginning, in the distant past.
So it's safe to assume that Mint 18.1 will work fine on the vast majority of hardware combinations. For that vast majority, there's no need to prefer 17.x.