There are a ton of resources online for recommendations. You can't take any one persons recommendations on a single item, because all pieces need to fit together. It all comes down to research.
In this day in age, technology advances incredibly fast. Its usually a waste of money to buy premium parts because within 6 months that equipment will be at half price and there will be something new in its place. Most games you can easily handle with slightly older equipment anyway.
You need to think about what you want. Does size matter? How intense do you get? Usually, just look for a MOBO that has room for plenty of upgrades. Things like USB 3.0, SATA III (6Gbit/s), and usually an integrated sound card. Aside from that, depending on what you want, you may need to make sure theres additional slots for a multi-GPU (someone called it SLI here), more HDD slots, wireless internet cards, etc.
Use this site:
It not only helps you with your graphics card, but also your CPU and HDD. What I did was looked at the Best Value charts. From there, I looked at the price ranges that I was looking for, and made sure I got compatible pieces, and then found them on sale at various places (newegg/amazon).
My rig itself only cost me around $500-$600. It can handle anything I throw at it. Its a champ. I could have gotten it for even cheaper if I didn't buy it all within a single weekend and waited for more sales. I spent more money later on a new monitor (now have dual-monitors), a new keyboard, and a new mouse.
Someone else mentioned an aftermarket heatsink for your CPU. Keep in mind you only need that if you are going to overclock. I have 8GB RAM which is plenty right now (make sure you get a 64-bit OS if you go more than 4GB RAM), though you can easily go for more. At the time I built my rig, I thought 2GB sticks were the cheapest route to go, so I maxed out all 4 of my RAM slots. Looking back, I wish I had gone with more ram simply because of the cost. I don't need it right now, but someday I might.
Regarding your SSD question, yes... you can do that. I have a 120GB SSD that I have windows 7 installed on as well as my primary applications (including photoshop), games, etc. All my data is stored on a separate HDD. You can even have your game data (saved games) stored on the HDD if you wanted to.
Edited by Rehclip on 3/31/2012 9:10 PM PDT