I spent an hour comparing LGA 1155 motherboards on Gateway's website.. Narrowed things down by chipset first, decided to focus on Z68… went thru all their matching motherboards, filtering on what I think will work best for what I have in mind.. threw out anything without onboard video, because I'm not planning to game and don't feel the need to blow an extra $200 on a video card.. Kicked out anything with /no/ eSATA ports.. in the end it turned out to be mostly about USB ports.. And so I decided I wanted the GA-Z68XP-UD5. The chipset supports 10 2.0/1.1 ports, including 6 on the back panel, and it has "1 x Renesas D720200 chip and 2 x VLI VL810 hubs", which gives you 8 3.0/2.0 ports, including 4 on the back panel. All other things being more or less equal, I decided this was the best choice.
Well, it's out of stock on Amazon, Newegg.. everywhere I've checked. Looks like it may have been EOL'd, but Gigabyte's website helpfully doesn't mention that fact.
The machine's primary purpose will be video transcoding, so it doesn't need a whole lot of pretty, but does need a lot of horsepower (I'm planning on putting an i7 2700K into it) and the ability to connect one or two internal drives, one or two eSATA external drives, and several (possibly many, possibly lots) USB DVD drives. Hence my focus on the port availability.
I'm not really in the mood to repeat the winnowing process for all the other MB makers out there, so… anybody have an alternative motherboard they'd care to suggest?