Thank you so much for your replies so far - I probably should have been more specific in my original post, it's just my computing life, like my real life, is in a state of flux making it hard to determine what I need or want, which yeah, I realise makes it hard to get good advice. My comment "Basically I just want a micro-atx mobo with either an i5 or i7 and 8GB of RAM" was what I thought I needed a few days ago, but not anymore. So here goes, I use my PC for:
1) The usual browsing / email / office stuff. This includes youtube and other multimedia sites HD playback, and Grumpy (Athlon64 3500+ with nVidia 6600 GT) now struggles to cope - I recently upgraded the screen from a small LCD to a whopping 42" LCD running at 1920 x 1080.
2) I play a fair bit of online poker usually multi-tabling 8 to 12 boards simultaneously. One day I would like to get to 24 boards as some online poker legends frequently do. The poker site software is pretty basic graphics (I play at Titan, Pokerstars and occasionally Party and Carbon) but again Grump is struggling - especially if I add in some youtube clips for background music playback (no vide rendering on screen, not sure how the load on CPU is - whether it has to decode the stream anyway whether it displays it or not) and open some other apps eg skype, outlook etc.
3) Recently I've tried adding a HUD to my poker games without success. I'm wondering if it's also a case of hardware failing to cope. I get intermittent, mixed results. With the HUD comes a postgre SQL DB program for analysis and my first few hundred thousand hands took 5 hours + to load, which created a 1GB DB, and analysing is too slow.
4) I would like the upgrade to last quite a few years as Grumpy did. I think 7 years is a good life these days for a PC! Albeit with an SSD, RAM and screen upgrade a year ago.
Therefore, I am thinking it is no longer a cheap / value / lowend PC I want any more (as per original post & title), more mid-range but in a SFF. I think I would like HD 4000 graphics at the least, which limits me to one of three i5 CPU's or any i7's from what I can make out on Intel's website (is that even correct?) and for aesthetics I am wondering if I can mount the PC on the back of the 42" LCD (it has 400 x 400 VESA screws) to "disappear" it.
I can re-use my 120 GB SSD (I use a 700 GB 4 x HDD NAS for data over 1 gbps) and I don't care about an optical drive, therefore I am wondering if I can even get away with mini-ITX?? 2 x RAM slots would be fine, I'd probably buy 2 x 8GB upfront as it's so cheap now, to ensure I get max life out of the system. If it had a PCI-Express slot so I could add a graphics card (just in case) that would be good too, even though I will start with the onboard HD4000 graphics.
So, based on that, do you think an i5 will suit me? Should I be looking at another CPU socket type if I want to try and get an i7 in a SFF case with a mini-ITX mobo?
From Intel's website here
I can see the Intel® Core™ i5-3475S Processor (6M Cache, up to 3.60 GHz) does HD4000 at 65W TDP (max) in FCLGA1155, whereas the Intel® Core™ i5-3570K Processor (6M Cache, up to 3.80 GHz) does HD4000 at 77W TDP (max) in FCLGA1155, and there are 7 x non-FCLGA1155 socket i5 CPU's in sockets FCBGA1023, FCPGA988 which do HD4000 with only 17W or 35W TDP.
Otherwise, it looks like there are only 4 x i7 CPU's in FCLGA1155 sockets - the 3770, then the 3770T, 3770S and 3770K running at 77W for the 3770 and K (unlocked), 65W for the S (sports?) and 45W for the T (Thermally restricted?) which looks pretty good and might cope in a SFF case with a mini-itx board and small power supply.
So having got this far on my "own" (not really, SPCR rulez) can anyone give me advice on the options of an i7 with a mini-itx board (eg yes but use the 3770T, or don't do it, or you'd be better off with the i5 xxxx) either using the 1155 socket or an alternative socket to drop the TDP right down?
Er, then if I could be so bold, a couple of good mobos to consider given the above blurb?
And finally, a SFF case I can mount VESA style?
Thank in advance, much appreciated!