Need replacement Z77 micro-ATX mobo

I apologize if this question appears somewhere else, because I posted yesterday, but I could not find it even searching through my threads.

I was in the middle of playing GW2, when without warning, my mini-ITX gamer "Phoenix" (stats in .sig) shut off. There was no pop, flash, sparks, bzzt, artifact, flicker, or any other warning; like the plug had been pulled.
It would not power back on. I disconnected anything not needed to boot (basically leaving the SSD on the underside of the mobo and using the HD4000 IGP). I got perhaps the briefest flicker of a LED fan.
PSU maybe? I pulled my SG-650 out of another rig and tried that, but there was no change.
I unplugged the CPU power cable, and got LEDs and fans running, but of course nothing else. Uh oh. I am going to assume it is a VRM on the mobo that fried shorted rather than the CPU. During games, my CPU temp in that little case would get up to 55C, so perhaps parts of the mobo were hotter. The physical space for this system is limited to about 16.5", so I am going to rebuild it in a micro-ATX case for better overall cooling.
So anyway, I need a new mobo (and a new case). The case will probably be a Fractal Design Mini: because I like quiet. The mobo will be a Z77. I've had good results from ASRock in the past, but now I'm a little worried about the way this one died. I've read that Asus has overheat protection on its VRMs, so that's what I'm inclined to choose, but I'd like suggestions for the replacement mobo. Thanks, and also for reading the epistle.

Crossfire / SLI is unlikely. Four DIMM slots would be nice, but two isn't a dealbreaker. My mSATA SSD won't go to waste because I have a 2.5" adapter for it.

Budget is open, but the $200 Maximus Gene seems a little much (although the mSATA slot on it would be nice). It also lacks PCI which I may also want).
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  1. i would either suggest the gigabyte sniper m3, asus z77m, or a msi z77ma-g45

    heres the gigabyte. very well priced for a gaming matx board
  2. Best answer
    if you need a pci slot, the z77m has that
  3. The Asus z77m is probably my leading contender right now. The m-Pro has too many bad reviews, most for the same reason, so it looks like a QC problem.

    Anyone have any hands-on with the ASRock Extreme4? Reliability will trump features, but this board looks great on paper.
  4. Given that I really want this system to last, I decided to splurge and got the Maximus Gene. Thanks for your replies though; that's worth a BA.
  5. Best answer selected by jtt283.
  6. enjoy the Gene. i personally think its pretty expensive for a matx board when i can go for a full size z77-v pro
  7. Yeah it was, but I've only got about 16.5" of vertical clearance where this box will go. Also, the added mSATA connector will be a nice place for my SSD.
  8. i guess so. the mSata slot is SATA 2 though im pretty sure
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