Oooooh..... leaving aside Arch and derivities? How evil of you!
Well then... here's my list I think:
1) Feren OS 2) Deepin OS 3) Zorin OS 4) Elementary OS 5) Solus
Feren because it took the best of Linux Mint and has made it psuedo-rolling, with an intent to make it fully rolling in the future . Deepin because, well, it's Deepin and georgeous . Zorin OS because that was what got me hooked on Linux. In hind-sight, it's packages may have been horribly outdated and it may have had some serious developer issues (where they never talked with their community - at all) but for someone who was just trying to make sense of the Linux world, it made me feel at home and familiar with the desktop - giving me a chance to delve into everything that was going on in the background without having to worry about adjusting to the layout or GUI itself. Then comes Elementary OS because, again, it's gorgeous (sense a theme here?) and the team is so open and innovative - especially with their app store. Finally that brings us to Solus, which I would enjoy trying because of all the good things I have heard about not only it but also its developer, Ikey.
Topicons? Couldn't agree more! I'll be adding an updated Topicons package to our repo soon here... just wrapping up some other things (that and life ) first!
Keep trying - never give up. For in the end you will find it was all worth it.
I've been testing Solus. But not now, they have renewed the ISO to 3.9999.... And that they have made so many changes (their website, and several things in their software, it seems). I like it a lot. As I say, it has what GNOME lacks.