Yet another Z77 MB Recommendations request

It's been about 5 years since I decided to quit building systems for people, and subsequently I lost all touch with what's out there. Trying to catch up is honestly a bit overwhelming. I feel kinda bad adding to the fracas on people looking for advice on system builds, but I swear I've been climbing through all the reviews and recommendations and feel as a non-gamber I'm a little left out.

So here's the skinny. I'm not a gamer, I'm a software architect. I'm interested in virtualization so that I can run multiple VMs while testing applications. While I share the need for processing power with the gamers, I prefer storage speed over graphics speed even though I do run multiple monitors.

I've decided to go with the Core i7-3770 based on the reviews I'm seeing. Asus has never let me down in the past, but I'm hearing a lot about ASRock now too. I can go as high as $300 on the mobo, but some of the higher recommended boards seem closer to $200.

eSata would be nice, RAID is a must, wifi & bluetooth are nice but not required.

What are the recommendations?
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  1. Since the CPU you are getting wont overclock, you could get a H77 board, but all the good features are on Z77 so why not.

    A motherboard wont affect graphical performance (maybe with integrated, maybe) or storage speed. That will come down to the GPU and HDD in question.

    The go-to board right now is the AsRock Z77 Extreme4. It has all the typical features of Z77, plus some more like onboard power buttons, LED debug system, EUFI BIOS. Comes with 8 SATA ports (four of them SATAIII) and has RAID options across most of them. eSata port at the back I/O as well. No inbuilt Wifi or Bluetooth though (some high end ASUS board have in built WIFI, but otherwise are the same as the Extreme4 at a higher price point). Supports 32GB of RAM up to 2800Mhz.
    AsRock Z77 Extreme4. $135
    Probably wont interest you since your a non gamer, but that board can also do dual Crossfire/SLI properly.

    I suggest getting a 3770k and a CPU heatsink, that way you can overclock and reap the performance boost.
  2. The Asrock z77 Pro 4 is identical to the Extreme 4 without the second sli slot working.
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