My turn -- under $1k HD-ready HTPC
So let's make this quick and easy, this little box has HDMI and is ready to have a Blu-ray or HD DVD drive added to it. For a little bit more you can get whichever flavor of video card, AMD/ATI or NVIDIA, you'd like to ensure smooth MPEG-4 AVC [H.264] playback from the latest batch of HD DVD/Blu-ray releases. Read on for the full monty...
|Athlon X2 BE-2350||$100||The new BE series is super low power (45W max) and cheap!|
|Arctic Cooling Alpine 64||$15||Decent, budget, cooler.|
|Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H||$75||Socket AM2, AMD/ATI 690G (X1250) with HDMI (HDCP) and S/PDIF output, microATX formfactor, nuff said!|
|Kingston ValueRAM 1GB (2 x 512MB) DDR2 800||$60|
|Samsung SpinPoint T Series HD501LJ 500GB SATA||$110||Huge, cheap, quiet storage.|
|ASUS DRW-1814BLT 18x DVD burner SATA black||$35||Features QuieTrak tech to keep the drive quieter then many others around.|
|AVerMedia AverTV M780||$90||NTSC/ATSC combo, PCIe x1, great digital TV reception|
|Microsoft Windows Vista
32-Bit Home Premium OEM
|$115||Vista is where it's at for Media Center these days.|
|Antec 'Veris' Fusion Black||$220||Awesome microATX media center case, now in a revised all black version!|
To ensure the latest next generation titles playback perfectly we have two possible candiates that will fit in the Antec Fusion. The HiS Radeon 2600 Pro (model# H260PRQT256DDN-R) ~$115 has a large double wide heatsink with fan so it doesn't need extra height. Alternatively we have the ASUS EN8600GT SILENT/HTDP/256M~$140, which is totally passive and unlike the Gigabyte model Alan used, it is double-wide and so doesn't have to be higher then the card, thus it will fit the Fusion case.