Okay all. here's the final rundown for me. I've installed mustiple desktop interfaces. On my 32 bit system:
Cinnamon didn't work because it insisted on running with software rendering. It was the only one with that problem.
Xfce wouldn't save the display settings. Every time I log in, it sets to a low screen res and I have to go to display settings to reset it to the hightest supported. Also, Xfce didn't have the best interface for my preferences.
Then I tried KDE. Great interface, but the problem there was the screen was set to a low res and KDE wouldn't even let me change it to the max the monitor could handle (It's a small monitor with 1280x720 resolution, and the KDE specs I read did say it required a min 768 vertical resolution). For whatever reason, the Display settings window under KDE was completely blank. I couldn't change the screen resolution at all.
Then I installed MATE. Great interface, no software rendering, screen resolution can be set to the max suported by the monitor, and it remembers the correct resolution between logins. Everything works as it should, so that's the new desktop for that system. Thanks to the crew behind the MATE desktop.