After testing out a dozen or so current releases, I have been really impressed with the current state of the Linux desktop/laptop experience.
My Brazilian grandma-in-law's laptop just bit the dust, and I wanted to set her up with something from my aging arsenal of dust collectors. I pulled out an Asus 900A (2009 Intel Atom based netbook with 4GB 1st-generation SSD) which ran terribly with any OS back when I last used it in 2011. So I installed Porteus Linux on it, a distro that allows you to generate your own installation using their simple generator at build.porteus.org, and now it freaking flies. It's snappy, has 3.5GB of free space, and to my amazement the sound and video hardware was set up automatically. She can Skype, FB, and browse with it right out of the box.
I also recently found what looked to be a nice laptop left in my building's recycling area, so I took it home and fired it up. It was a HP Pavillion DV2-1019AX with Windows 7 installed, and it ran horribly. 240p streaming video brought it to a stuttering standstill. I loaded Mint 17.1 XFCE and all of the sudden it feels like a powerhouse. It does 1080p video without flinching and everything else you'd want a laptop to do without blinking.
In short, I'm very impressed with the current state of Linux for desktop environments. It's only been a few years since I last tried one out, but those old distros now seem like ancient history. These are modern, efficient, luxurious looking operating systems.