Outside of Mate, Caja was being temperamental to the point of being useless (at least on my setup), so that was right out.
I was left with Thunar and PCManFM, which have a more or less similar interface to Nautilus and seem to be far less laggy. I don't like PCManFM's drag-and-drop behavior, which leaves me with Thunar. The other thing is that as of now, Thunar looks like it fits in more with the other Gnome and GTK apps than Nautilus, which is a little weird.
The most annoying thing I found about both is that there's no link to recent files, which turns out to be a simple fix:
- Navigate to recent:///
- Drag the icon in the location entry field to "Places" in Thunar or create a bookmark in PCManFM.
And, to finish the job, switch over the MIME association to your preferred browser with:
$ xdg-mime default Thunar.desktop inode/directory
With Thunar, it's probably best to install volman for mount stuff and any plugins you might want (the archive plugin is especially useful, I think).