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!
 Totals  $825  

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.