I think I've gathered enough information to ask the question correctly. I've pasted in the appropriate protocol and I'll augment it with some detail.
Approximate Purchase Date: inside a month
Budget Range: not sure -- this is probably an inexpensive project so I want good parts that shouldn't need to wildly exceed the need
System Usage from Most to Least Important: watching movies from a NAS (must play MPEG-4 DRM through itunes), light gaming*, ripping DVDs, room to add tuner in case,
Parts Not Required: optical drive, media storage, monitor, speakers
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg and Amazon but not particular
Parts Preferences: none but am used to Windows 7
Overclocking: doubt it
SLI or Crossfire: doubt it even more
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 40" HDTV
Additional Comments: already have a Blu-Ray player, Qnap TS-119P II NAS with 2T Seagate drive, 3T external backup, iPad and ATV3
should have WiFi for remote keyboard and possibly mirroring the iPad, although the device will be hardwired to the ethernet.
Thinking of an nVidia GT 640 or GTX 650 video card so the motherboard doesn't need to carry that job.
The case size is not critical. It doesn't need to be squeezed into a small box at the expense of efficient cooling. Low and wide is better than thin and tall. I may want to add a tuner recording card as some point so there should be a couple expansion slots.
The monitor for this will be a 40" HD(not smart)TV. It has 4 HDMI ports which should be plenty. USB 3.0 would be nice since the external storage devices have that.
I don't expect to need to expand this much, if any, so there isn't much reason to overbuild it. That said, I'd like the parts to be durable. The exception I'd make to that statement is if the acceptable part now will not be supported much longer technologically. Any recommendations on a small remote keyboard/trackball (especially with IR) would be appreciated.
As soon as I can I'll put up a parts list to rummage through. I'd like not to get a power supply that is 4mm taller than will fit in the case or parts that have blood feuds with M4V-protected media. Thoughts on how to legitimately purchase the operating software wisely are also appreciated.
Thanks for looking and best wishes on your builds, sh
The only real requirement you have is "light gaming".
Your HTPC requirements can be handled by a Celeron 847/motherboard - they run about $85-$90 cpu/mb combo. OPENELEC XBMC works very well on this setup especially if you have your movies on a NAS.
If you're looking to do "light" gaming you might want to look at a i3-3225 and a Z77 motherboard. The HD4000 integrated video would work well (VirtuMVP) with the 640/650 or possibly even by itself for "light" gaming.
Thanks namdlo, I'm closing in on what I need. I do have another question about remotes. I'm looking at a Logitech K400 wireless keyboard to control the HTPC and possibly other devices. It comes with a little USB dongle but I doubt it will work for the IR functions. This is a question that is probably better for Logitech or another place on the forum but as long as I'm here, I thought I'd ask about infrared receivers for the unit.
It seems the gaming part isn't necessary after all -- which is a relief. For what I want in a HTPC, it seems there are lots of boxes on eBay that will do the job with maybe a couple of tweaks. I make guitar amps and finding NOS parts is profitable for some vendors. Not so with this stuff. In a couple years the bloom really comes off the rose. There are a lot of HP 6200, 8200 and 8300 machines on eBay with i3, i5 and even i7 chips that seem to have the basic characteristics covered as long as you don't try to slam a big gaming GPU in there. I'll probably look for something with an HDMI port first but the field has opened up.
For those of you who have been waiting for my latest question I actually have a solution. I picked up a lightly used unit on eBay last night with the following:
Gigabyte Z68 Motherboard
Intel i5 2500K (quad core and over-clockable)
OCZ 60GB SSD for the OS
WD 1TB spinner for data and media
16GB RAM (Corsair)
SilverStone GD05B (Black) media case (about the size and look of a stereo receiver)
Rosewill RRC-126 media center remote
Logitech K400 wireless keyboard with trackpad
Rosewill PCIe WiFi
HIS H557HO1G Radeon HD 5570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile Ready Video Card
Ceton InfiniTV 4 (PCIe)
I'm not sure why it wasn't more heavily lusted after but it slipped under the collective radar. At any rate, it should do everything I was looking for and some things I hadn't even thought of.
Thanks again to all the people at Toms Hardware who took their time to help me wade through all the data. There are some forums where I'm a quasi-expert and I'm glad to help but I knew I couldn't give back more than I asked here. Your efforts are appreciated and you might see me lurking again when it comes time to actually use this thing. sh