I've been looking at ASUS and Gigabyte boards exclusively, but EVGA is also ok with me. Don't know what features I really need here, but budget is in the $200-300 range, probably don't need super high end but not sure.
I'm not so sure if I need high frequency RAM here, so far I've been more interested in low Cas latency and good timings but I don't really know what I'm talking about! Also want to make sure my motherboard can support me dropping in another 6 GB and utilizing all of the 12 GB with every slot occupied.
Here I'm open to waiting for the Geforce GTX 470 @ $350. I've read some places that ATI's consumer cards are less stable in 3D programs like Rhino and Max but I'm still keeping them on the table. Either the 5850 or the 5770 if it plays games like Bad Company 2 well.
CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and Asus P6X58D Premium $510 w/ CPU. Didn't notice the MC mention.
RAM: G.Skill Pi Series 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $180. These are faster and not much more expensive.
GPU: HD 5870 $420 or the new nVidia if it's better and not super expensive.
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55. This is just as fast as the F3. And it's always in stock. And usually has free shipping, which is a toss up with the F3s.
PSU: Corsair 750W 80+ $90 after rebate. Or the Antec listed. 750W is preferred if you want to Crossfire later. You also do not ever "need" a modular unit. The best cases are all bottom mounted cases, so modular is not even useful.
Case: HAF 922 $90 after rebate. The 5870 is a very tight fit in the Antec 300 Illusion. I wouldn't recommend the regular 300, as you pay the same for it with shipping, yet the Illusion gives you two additional fans.
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $24
What are the benefits of the ASUS boards over their GIGABYTE counterparts? From what I can tell, even the GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R has USB 3.0 and SATA 6gb/s. And, for what it's worth, I don't think it's likely that I will ever make the leap to a triple gpu setup either.
Ok, I understand that the ASUS premium is considered the "higher quality" board compared to the GIGABYTE X58A-UD3R, but for my purposes (not overclocking now, maybe further on down the line), what are the real world advantages? I'm not familiar with what it means to have 16+2 phase power design vs. the 8+2 phase of the Gigabyte. Is it just more efficient? Does the board have a longer lifespan? What it comes down to is am I going to feel the quality difference or is just peace of mind?
To be honest, I have no idea. Generally, I try to stick the Asus in the build whenever possible to maintain quality (which translates to longevity), but I don't think anyone would be disappointed with the Gigabyte.