I'm looking at building a system for $800 or less (including monitor) for primarily gaming and home use. I'm considering a Phenom II X4 955 BE and an HD 5770. My biggest concern in choosing a mobo is picking something that won't be a limiting factor. I'm not looking for any frills - don't need integrated graphics or extra PCI 2.0 slots, so I'm drawn to budget boards such as the ASRock M3A770DE AM3 AMD 770 ($60, used in the $400 Sept SBM). Is this an okay choice or will it limit the performance of the CPU and GPU?
As long as it's at least a 770 or 870 chipset, no worries. Now obviously some will have sata 6 and usb 3, and other won't. Similar other features and BIOS options to just choose what functionality you want.
Most of the modern AMD chipsets now come in an AM3 flavor - what that means is that the motherboards use DDR3 and ONLY AM3 CPUs can be used in them. This get's confusing and we really don't want to be confused, do we? For new AMD builds, you will probably want AM3 and DDR3 now. Don't be confused by boards that SUPPORT AM3 CPUs but are really AM2+ boards.
This AMD chipset supports crossfire at x8/x8 and SATA 6GB/USB 3.0. It also has a very slight onboard graphics improvement over 790GX, depending on who you ask. Unlike the Intel P55 boards, the 6GB SATA does not take away from the PCI-E slots... making this a better gaming choice in some ways.
Like the 890GX only with more PCI-E bandwidth for those demanding crossfire video cards. The extra bandwidth might not be needed, but since these are more deluxe boards they can be worth a look.
Will normally have just one PCI-E slot and no onboard graphics. A great budget choice.
An older chipset, but still many sold. Much like the 890GX but with no support for USB 3 or SATA 6GB/S
Like the 790GX but without the onboard graphics.
A bit more pricey that the 790GX, this board had more features but no onboard GPU. Most of the deluxe AM2+ or AM3 boards fell into this category. PCI-E 2.0 @X16 in crossfire. Similar to an X48 board, but for AMD CPUs.
Older board with just one PCI-E slot for video card.
No large changes over 780G, but it's newer and may support some current CPUs better. Comes in both ATX and micro-ATX sizes and is budget friendly. Some increased onboard GPU functionality.
An older budget chipset, no graphics.
Hope that helps. If you don't plan on using crossfire then just get a simple board.
And by the way, I have a 5770, and it can game in 1080p if you aren't too fussy. Having just migrated from a laptop with a 3470 gpu I'm quite happy with the 30fps or so I'm getting on my machine in crysis, but I'm aware that 2 5770's are similar to 1 5850 or 5870 (personally I can't believe it gets better than this, but I've never experienced a truly powerful gaming machine anyway). So maybe you might want to keep that option open in the future if you're gaming on a 1080p monitor.