hi, im looking into building a small form factor HTPC, but im not sure on what to build on, ive never built a system, but from experience in taken my computer apart it doesnt seem that hard and im sure i can find guides on the net.
ok so id like the HTPC to be small (of course!) and preferably on an intel cpu (but an AMD build might be acceptable) because i might be running osx86 on it and intel is more compatible. my budget is around 500 bux, no os or accesories needed, i just need something that will have HDMI, and can support HD files and not have much of a stutter. i will not use this for gaming, just multimedia, transcoding, basic internet.
i was looking into shuttle barebone systems, but im not sure if they would work, heres what i was thinking even though its above my budget.
Your cheapest, good build would be a 780G motherboard with and X2 cpu. The hd3200 onboard graphic are very good. If you are going with an intel build, don't use the onboard graphics. Get at least an hd3450 or better video card. I think the amd/ati cards are the only ones that carry audio and video via hdmi. I just built a cheap htpc with a Foxconn 780G motherboard and an x2 5000+BE cpu. I'm very happy with it.
The intel G45's that are just barely rolling out are supposed to be a good option for HTPC's because they support hardware acceleration of blu-ray video just like the 780G's. Maybe consider a G45 if you really want to go intel.
On the other hand, AMD is the cheapest way to go and might fit your $500 budget better.
For a small form factor case, check out Silverstone's SUGO's, Antec NSK1380, Aerocool M40, Ultra Microfly, etc. for decent cube cases. Alternatively, there's a huge selection of cases that look like A/V equipment. Go to www.pcalchemy.com for some ideas there.