Having chosen an AMD Phenom II as the processor, it's time to choose a motherboard. There are enough brands and chipsets to make even a geek feel confused. First up, I wanted it to be something other than Asus. A toasted Asus mother board is the reason that I am having to do this rebuild in the first place. There were many AM3 boards listed on eBay (but none available locally). After a bit of research, I narrowed my choice down to a GIGABYTE AM3 GA-MA770T-UD3P and an MSI 760GM-E51. I was low on caffeine at the time so I chose the MSI, now in hindsight, I am beginning to the think the Gigabyte would have been better. It was a tough choice really.
First of all, choosing an AM2+ mobo instead of an AM3 board would have been the cheaper option and AM2+ boards are tried and tested while AM3 is still relatively new. Yes you can use an AM3 chip on most AM2+ boards even though the board HCL will not mention this! On the other hand AM2+ is already obsolete and the next set of AMD processors are sure to be incompatible.
There are many AM3 chipsets available but getting the hottest chipset with a load of features that I will not use was not my intention. There are boards with onboard RAID 5, or dedicated memory for the GPU and multiple firewire ports. But they also happen to be expensive. The MSI board had a 'buy it now' price of $49.00 (while shipping cost was $40.00 (expedited shipping mind you)). The cheapest available GA-MA770T had bidding starting at $65.00 and shipping was $30.00 so it would probably end up being a lot higher.
The MSI version comes wtih on board VGA/HDMI and an E-SATA socket, on the downside it's limited to 5 SATA sockets (I already have four drives attached to my desktop and have plenty of drives lying around). The Gigabyte board had 6 SATA sockets but no E SATA but it did have two firewire ports. My external harddrive , a Lacie 1TB has all kinds of sockets imaginable so whether the board has Firewire or SATA isn't a big deal. It would have been lovely to have a mother board that supported USB 3.0 but those were all costing $120 upwards. Better to wait a while and get a PCI USB 3.0 card. There are PCI cards with 2x USB 3 + 2 x Firewire for just under $12.00
Anyway, what really decided me more than anything was the lack of caffeine and the fact that the bidding would end in a few hours on the MSI board. Hopefully it will reach Colombo around the same time that the processor gets here. Now to look for RAM.