i've been doing a side by side comparison of differently priced z68 1155 boards that all do the smart response tech, virtu, sli, and dont see much difference except for extra pci slots or usb ports or firewire... am i missing anything or should i just go with the cheapest one? I don't have any ASRock listed because I plan on buying at local stores not online just incase of returns/shipping damage. I plan on using i5-2500k, 2x4g 1333 1.5v ram, and I already own a gtx 460 but I want to upgrade that maybe with christmas sales or in half a year.
The sabertooth is higher end, more features, better quality and will probably OC just a few 100mhz higher but even the cheap gigabyte is good quality. I would not go with a micro atx though, it puts the components closer together usually heating them up more. I would go with this one. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Since you're planning on using a K-suffixed CPU that automatically implies that you're going to be overclocking the CPU.
If you're not planning on overclocking the CPU then you can just get the version without the K suffix and save yourself the extra money or put the price difference towards getting a better motherboard, memory, graphics card, etc.
If you don't intend on using QuickSync for video transcoding or using the integrated graphics processor as a fallback incase your discrete graphics card fails then you can stick with P67 chipset motherboards otherwise get a Z68 chipset motherboard.
Of the three boards you have listed the ASUS Sabertooth P67 has the better power VRM design (8+2). This matters when overclocking the CPU because more phases in the CPU power design correlates with overclocking stability and efficiency.
For the same price as the ASUS Sabertooth P67 you can also get an ASUS P8Z68-V PRO.
The i5-2500k is only $180 at Microcenter, and the video chip in the i5-2500 is "Intel HD Graphics 2000" while the K version says 3000. That's why I went with the K, I don't think I'll need to overclock though.
I wanted a Z board for the SSD caching and the integrated video incase the video card fails yes, with the gtx 460 the system loads with lines through the screen once in a while.
I was mostly wondering if for example I bought a $100 motherboard and a $200 one, would I notice a difference in performance or quality, but it sounds mostly like I only would notice stability issues if I wanted to overclock.
Ssd caching is pretty useless imo, it's better just to have a ssd alone as ssd prices continue to drop and become affordable, sales are usually $1/gb. The higher end board isn't necessarily more stable, the more power phases might let you overclock higher.