Help me build a low budget HTPC, please??

I'm looking to build a very low budget HTPC over the holidays, and I can use some help as I've not built a HTPC, only gaming or everyday use computers, and not that many of those either.

First and foremost, I'd like this to be cheap and energy efficient. I don't want the power bill to be affected by more than a few dollars a month, so it won't be on 24/7, just when I'm going to use it. I'd also like for it to be expandable in the future (adding more drives, a TV tuner, whatever is needed). I'll most likely be reusing a case, or just buying a new decent tower case for my main computer and using it's old Antec LanBoy for the HTPC case. This computer will be going in the family room, and will have internet access, as well at antenna access (I currently have DirecTV) at some point in the future.

I'd really just like it to be able to access files and folders off my main computer to play audio and video files from it and display them on the big screen or be able to hear them on my stereo. I'd also like to be able to surf the net with the big screen as the computer monitor on sites like hulu. I'd also like to be able to use it to watch games on ESPN 360 or similar services (kinda the main idea with college basketball coming up).

As I've always been a Intel guy, I was going to stick with it. I was also thinking about simply upgrading from my current E2160 on my man computer to a E5200 or something and using the E2160 for the HTPC, and maybe do something similar with the mobo. I already have 2 GB of DDR2, an old 8600GT (most likely overkill for what it will be used for). So that, a new HD, a DVD drive, and an OS. What else might I need to get for such a project?

Thanks for any help you might be able to lend me.
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  1. I wish you gave a dollar figure for your budget, I would recommend the following:

    ASUS M3N78-VM

    AMD Athlon X2 4850e 2.5GHz

    Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit

    Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB

    PC Power & Cooling Silencer PPCS370X 370W

    LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray DVD-ROM

    Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1800 MCE Kit

    Total: $541.94 - $45 MIR = $496.94

    The 2gb of RAM that you have is DDR2 800 correct?

    BTW, if you ran this machine 24/7, your energy bill would be around $10 assuming $.15 per kW/hr... if your in a state with lower power costs then this figure would be even lower!
  2. Well, I've got a case I can use for now, but might buy a HTPC case at some point later. I also would most likely get a new intel E5200 and P45 mobo to upgrade my main computer and use it's E2160 and P35 mobo for this HTPC. While more than the AMD solutions you put here, I get a nice upgrade on my main computer as well. Yes, the DDR2 I have is 800, so I can use that. I have an extra 8600GT sitting around, so I can use it for now, though might get something different later that's HTPC specific. I have a copy of Windows XP home that I'll use so I don't have to buy a new OS. I also have an extra Antec PSU (430W Earthwatts). I guess just a DVD-RW drive and a low power hard drive is all I'll need.

    Anything I need to do on my Vista Home Ultimate main PC to make it's audio and video files accessible and playable on another computer on my home network?

    Thanks for the help!!
  3. The 8600 GT has no HDMI port. You will need HDMI capability if you plan on connecting to a HD TV.
  4. The TV has a DVI input, and I also have a DVI to HDMI adapter.

    Now that I think about it, an ASUS P5K-E/wifi has the ability to output 5.1 sound, right? I can connect that right to my stereo for surround sound, right?
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