Thanks for good suggestions here;
As far as mobo goes, I'd actually prefer a ATX above mATX - the reason for suggesting the MSI is it got integrated graphics and SATA 6. If I go the AMD route, I'mm willing to add in a graphics card in order to get better mobo choises. However, those money might as well go for a new Intel ready CPU cooler....
A note on my Asus Triton cooler, it's modded so the radiator is located directly in front of the exhaust fan. So I believe it can challenge even modern coolers. But of course, in case I'm wrong, I might end up adding a new cooler to the AMD budget.
Regarding CPU, when I tested on my Core i7 2760 laptop, NX2 maxed out all 8 cores. However, there are people out there with way more hefty machines, and there is a limit for how many cores NX2 can use (I dont recall the limit at the moment). But 8 cores should be perfectly fine.
Comparing Core i7 2760 and FX8320 it seems like the i7 has sligthly better multithreaded performance, however the 8320 has more than double L2+L3 cache. Which one will perform better with tNX2 is hard to say, before trying out.
Anyway, Intel CPU's at the same price as the FX8320 dont seem to have significantly better multithreaded performance.... Am I wrong here?
You are comparing a mobile intel chip to an AMD desktop chip? Mobile chips have restricted by design the amount of voltage it can run off, they are also very limited on the cpu clocks because of the environment they will be running out. In my experience a mobile chip even an i7 is like 60% of what a desktop chip is capable, but also reflects on the consumption and power needed. That said, a desktop i7 chip will round circles on an AMD in most task, unless is very core oriented app.
Can you please name a couple of popular Intel mobos? Reliability, low idle power and good fan controllers are my priorities, as well as integrated graphics and SATA6. Are there some other modern features I shold look for?
If low consumption is your priority then look into Intel motherboards, even though they are getting out of the motherboard buisness, leaving it to 3rd party manufacturers, they are still in my experience the best in terms of efficiency, as an alternative, lately i seen very good results with AsRock, i would still bet my beans on intel though. Also a big key to get very low idle power consumption is the PSU, a lot of builds that you see achieve super low are using picoPSUs, as they are very good into those kind of low power settings.
Reliability... its hard to say with electrical components, none of all my boards have failed on me once they have started, intel, MSI, Asus, Supermicro, all of them i would consider good.
Fan Control... depends on what you want, under what it will run. For pure bios fan control with pure PWM fans i like MSI (asrock is pretty good, intel is also decent). For running under windows i like Asus and their software FanXpert. There is also Speedfan, that had very good success with a lot of forum members here that still swear by it, but if this is your plan search for one that has supports for all its sensors so you can set it up correctly.
Integrated Graphics all haswell (none E) will support intels built in iGPU on their chips, but crosscheck the chips as not all have the same iGPUs, some are more capable than others, nothing to do with the motherboard.
On the SATA6, intel haswell motherboards H87/H97/Z87/Z97 come with a intel native Sata III controller, aka SATA 6Gb/s.