Cheap motherboard for Phenom II X3 HTPC

I have a spare Phenom II X3 710 and low profile Radeon 5550, and I want to stick them (and a spare 320GB hard disk) in an Enermax Laguna case and make that into an HTPC (which will be used for video viewing/capture and perhaps a little gaming).

I'm planning to buy a cheap micro-ATX motherboard and have several options (these are the options available at the store where I plan to buy the case):

1. Biostar A880G
Pros: newish chipset; HDMI slot nice as a backup (though not really necessary)
Cons: no info on the web (only A880G+); Biostar has a crappy site; no PCIe x1 (I might want to stick a video capture card there)

2. ASRock 960GM-S3 FX
Pros: PCIe x1 slot; ASRock utilities (XFast stuff in particular) sound nice; AM3+ so more future proof
Cons: PCIe x1 slot is adjacent to the graphics card

3. Gigabyte GA-M68MT-S2P (rev 3.0, probably, couldn't get a definitive answer)
Pros: Two PCIe x1 slots, one not adjacent to the graphics card; I've owned several Gigabyte MB's and never had problems with them
Cons: Old chipset (lower HT speed, probably first gen PCIe)

I think that option 1 doesn't have any real benefit, so the choice is between 2 and 3. What do you think?

I'm leaning more towards option 3 because I found another store which sells the case and its prices are cheaper, and it doesn't have option 2. Still, the low HT speed and first gen PCIe bother me. Don't know if they'd really matter though (the PCIe version probably not, considering the low end card).
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  1. Went with the Gigabyte. I eventually found a store that was not only cheaper but also local, and that pretty much decided things for me.
  2. Yeah, it was the best choice.
    But you could have go with this one as well $52.99 after 10% promo off
  3. You're right. This is actually available at the store where I ended up buying the things. Costs about $15 more, which isn't a big deal but I don't know if it's worth it. What I don't get is why these boards always have so many legacy ports. I'd rather have another couple of USB ports.

    And thanks for the reply.
  4. I checked and there's also the Gigabyte GA-MA78LM-S2H in the price range of the ASUS. But I like that the GA-M68MT-S2P has that distant PCIe slot. I checked and the HIS 5550 has a heat sink on both sides of the card, so the slot above the card will be blocked and the slot below will be too adjacent.
  5. So which MB did you get?
  6. The Gigabyte. I'll be picking up that PC in about an hour (I paid for the store to assemble the parts, to save time and because I don't want to find out what an inquisitive toddler can do to PC hardware).
  7. Having used the PC a bit by now, I can say that the one inconvenience I encountered due to using this board was not being able to run AMD Overdrive, because the board doesn't have an AMD chipset. It's not a huge deal because there are other utilities to do the same things, but I would have liked to be able to run it.
  8. Just happened across this thread, so I'm necroing it just to add my perspective some years down the line.

    Buying nForce was a mistake. When I tried to change to a 4TB drive it was a hassle until I discovered that I needed to turn the nForce drivers off and use Microsoft ones. Upgrading to Windows 10 was a real hassle, and I ended up going back to 7. A totally unsupported chipset is simply not fun to have. I'm sure things would have worked out better with an AMD based motherboard.
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