It depends a bit on whether you have a causal need or a "production" need. Also, are you a mouse person or a keyboard person?
Please note that my preferences are for dual-pane file managers, with
(preferably) or without dual folder trees. If you just want one that does only
a folder tree and a file panel, I hope you "see the light" some day.
If you are a casual user, most of them (including nearly any member of the "Pack"... Enriva Magellan comes to mind) work OK. I personally think Salamander
is really nice, though, even with its limitations. If you are a heavy mouse user, SpeedCommander has the best tree/folder tab, etc, integration/behavior, IMHO. Version 12 has a nicely implemented breadcrumb bar functionality, though one can't drag and drop to it (darn!).
If you need "industrial strength"... meaning you work with "weird" file systems, manage remote servers, or need obscure archivers, or use more/different metadata than that provided by Windows itself, or mostly prefer keyboard over mouse, or want to be able to view essentially any file, then TC (plus plugins... I repeat: PLUS plugins) is the way to go, with the understanding that you WILL have to learn the best ways to use it. It's the plugins that make TC so powerful, mostly.
On the other hand if you need automation (that is, multi-step file activities) and are not comfortable with writing batch files or using a tool like AutoHotkey (necessary for automating TC, for instance) but are not
averse to some
coding or code-like scripting, then look at SpeedCommander (built-in VB script object model) or DOpus (limited scripting, but good GUI for what it does do).
And if you are only a casual user without a lot of file management needs who just loves to play with software, fiddling with colors and buttons and menus etc etc then Dopus is your man. That thing seems to have a setting for nearly everything... except the things I personally need settings for.
If you need Unicode, the landscape changes, though. At this writing TC, Salamander, FreeCommander, and most members of the "Pack" do not support Unicode.
Cost is another issue, too. TC is one of the least expensive. You buy it once, free upgrades forever. DOpus is the most expensive initially AND you have to repurchase it to keep up with its rather speedy evolution. SpeedCommander is similar, though less than DOpus. That's one reason I suggest looking at FreeCommander. It's still a baby, but is currently free and offers a lot of functionality.
Let me also step in here, though, and say quite bluntly that even the lowliest member of the "Pack" is generally more efficient for file management than MS Explorer. If you are using Explorer, you're spending too much time doing file management. Pick another file manager. You'll be glad you did!