First off, I just want to throw out there, that I am in no way a rookie, I just lack detailed information about some parts, and that is what this question is going to be about!
Currently, I am not on the market, or looking to build a new PC, but I have some experimental builds that I am putting together, trying to tweak prices for best performance, and putting GPUs VS GPUs as well as CPUs to the test, without being able to experience them hands on.
My knowledge restricts itself when it comes to Mobos, which ironically enough, is the most important thing about the PC, to know about.
In my experimental builds, I have to choose the cheapest, but also the best, "future safe" Mobos, note that "cheap" doesn't mean 10$, but not 1000$ either, as chexpensive as I can get it, yes I just made that word up, chexpensive, mixture of cheap and expensive, you can quote me on that. Essentially, it has to be a board that is not per definition the newest on the market, nor some old deflated thing either, but a board that when you bought it, was able to run for example i5 CPUs, but at the same time was new enough, for you to upgrade the i5 to an i7, when it becomes available in the future.
Also note the "future safe" remark, as it refers to a board that whilst you bought an i5 for it, you can also slap an i7 on it, without the board having to be the newest.
I have read several places during my search, that there is no such thing as "future safe", but when my brother and I, built my PC some 3 years ago, if I remember correctly, he referred to my board as being "future safe", as in it would support future GPUs and CPUs, but I do not know which of the features on the motherboard, shows if it will support said future CPUs and GPUs, during the time you are buying it, which could be a year or two before the aforementioned new GPUs and CPUs become available, i.e when I bought my board, "P7P55D", it supported my i5, and during that time, i7s were not out.
Also, lets take an example where I'm buying and putting together a PC from scratch, I found a good CPU that I want, and a good GPU, but I have to find a "future safe" mobo to match, which is of good quality brand, and is not the newest and most expensive on the market, but definitely no more than 1½ years old either. Where do I begin?
I hope you get the gist of what I am asking you guys here, just to clarify, I am not posting because I have a technical problem, or I bought something new that doesn't seem to work in my tower, but rather to understand Mobos better, and who better to ask than you
So, in conclusion- What specs am I looking for on a motherboard I am purchasing 1 or 1½ years before a new batch of CPUs or GPUs are released, to get an idea of if it'll qualify?
How would you define "future safe", as I am at a loss for words.
And if you could explain it to me nice and easy, perhaps even spoon feed me if you have to, as I would like to gain some clear expertise on the area.
Edit: My PC is pretty old, and I would like to replace my GPU, so on a different but not totally unrelated note, what would you upgrade a GTX260 to? I have my eyes on a 560 TI, but the difference on comparisons are virtually non-existent, but it is still better for some reason? I only play Darksiders, Borderlands and League of Legends with the mayhaps occasional FPS in BF2, which I lag in, due to my old card. Taking these games into advantage, what would you suggest? Again, "chexpensive".
The best you can get is the Maximus V Formula - Trust me, you'll never get bored of it. AMAZING audio, amazing gaming features, MIND-BLOWING overclocking capabilities - All of this with a price tag of just $279!
You could go with a mid range board, something like an ASUS P8Z77-V or V-PRO or the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H which are just about 40$ less than the Formula.
Honestly, If you do not mind spending $40 more, go for the Formula. You'll never EVER get bored of it. There's just too much in it! (I have the Extreme, which is a slight bit better than the formula - The features are the same though).
If you get the formula - You won't change your system for more than 3-4 years. Or more.
Oh and instead of getting a 560Ti, get a 7850 2GB or a 660Ti if possible!