If your like me and you just want pure performance and/or minimalism then I strongly suggest you take a look at bbLeanless. So what exactly is bbLeanless? Well it's essentially a trimmed down version of bbLean which is a vert minimalistic build of blackbox and when it comes to minimalism and performance there's certainly always room for further improvements. Alternatively another minimalistic shell outside of the realm of blackbox worth mentioning is geoshell it's rather minimalistic as well and has fairly familiar windows user interface feel to it. Litestep is yet another good option, but it can be a little tricky making everything on it work properly so don't be overly surprised if you run into some problems if you give it a try.
Minimalism isn't for everyone so if your looking for a shell with functionality and eye candy in mind Emerge Desktop or SharpE might be worth giving a try they to cater more to the eye candy and flexibility department Geoshell is also rather flexible as well, but not as flashy eye candy, but it is very easy to skin for.
In conclusion my recommendation for minimalism is bbLeanless and my recommendation for eye candy is sharpE. I did like litestep a lot, but in practice I found it problematic making the different themes for to work properly unfortunately, but the few that did were rather nice.