I was thinking about the gigabyte model at first but then I was referred to the msi and asus models. I'm pretty new at building since this will be my first homebuilt PC so I'm inexperienced with motherboards (and a lot of other PC hardware). I just want to know which motherboard is best.
My PC is going to be an i5 with either a GTX 260 or SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 4890 (so the mobo will have to be able to support either card).
I'm on a budget, so please don't suggest more expensive mobo's. I am just deciding between these 3.
Hmmm... Going strictly by NewEgg's copy of their specs - and before buying any MB you should go to their site, read and download everything they have there, saving the spec webpages, etc... Read the manual cover to cover.
MSI has only 1 PCIe x16 and no others except x1's. I think this limits you a bit if you ever want to add a 2nd Graphics card - or any other PCIe card. I'd nix it for this.
Gigabyte has one less PCIe x1 and one more regular PCI than the MSI. For me, this is a plus because I sometimes need 2 PCI slots and nice to have a spare. Both have 1 PCIe x16 and a PCIe x4 but Asus may also go at 16, it's not clear. I don't mess with graphics cards myself and no little about em.
Gigabyte has a parallel header which I require, plus for it.
Asus has 8 USB ports, Giga has 10, but I think only 8 on the back. Both have additional ones on board so easy to add front USB if case supports.
Heck - I like the Gigabyte, but I usually do! In this case, I think it edges out the Asus. MSI - bleh
Defiantly avoid a MSI motherboard, they have cr@p quality.
Both ASUS and Gigabyte are top notch manufacturers and I am sure either of those linked will work great for you.
Personally, I like the layout of the Gigabyte board better.
Not only does it have a second eSATA port, it has a PCIe 1x slot above the primary PCIe 16x slot.
This is useful if you add in a PCIe 1x expansion card as it will not block airflow into the GPU.
Neither of these boards are suitable for SLI or CrossFire as the second PCIe 16x slot is only connected at 4x link speed and routed through the chipset (the primary PCIe 16x slot connects directly to the CPU).
Other than that, both will support ANY PCIe video card in their primary slot (PCIe standard is universal, no special treatment given to any manufacturer).
While either of these boards will work fine for you, I think I would chose the Gigabyte.
I think the layout is a little better (at least for me) and it is a few bucks cheaper.
Either way you go, you will have a good board.
MSI's 'Big Bang' will be useless for the Op as she is not going to be using two GPU's.
Also, it is a MSI motherboard and the Op is on a budget.
At an estimated cost of $1.50/PCIe Lane for the Hydra 200 chip, anything utilizing it will defiantly not be budget orientated.