Awesome site. I've been reading around here for a while and am considering building an HTPC but, I have no idea where to start when it comes to the parts needed for my specific needs (or more like wants). I'd use it to rip and watch DVDs and Blueray discs. I'd like to feed my pioneer receiver with HD video and HD audio from this HTPC. No gaming.
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: As soon as I get smart on this.
BUDGET RANGE: 300-400
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Ripping/watching DVD/BD. HD video and HD audio out a MUST!
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: monitor, speakers. I'll be using a 46" LCD TV (1080P) and Pioneer Home Theater system (HDMI in).
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com
PARTS PREFERENCES: inexpensive but reliable.
OVERCLOCKING: Don't know enough about this. Don't want to screw things up.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Is it possible to build something like this for 300-400? I have an old Asus 7nx8 Mobo with an AMD 3000+. Is this good for anything?
You may need to reconsider your budget, or scale back your expectations for the following reasons:
#1 If you truly want HD audio (DTS-MA or Dolby True-HD) you will need to either purchase an expensive sound card (Asus Xonar $130) or get a HD5xxx series Radeon video card (at least $140). That will eat up almost half of your budget.
#2 Ripping blu-rays means you will need massive storage. 1.5TB drives are at the current sweet spot, and will eat up $110 of your budget.
#3 You didn't say anything about an OS, that'll be another $100 of the budget if you need Windows 7 Home Premium.
I would save up $700-1000 to build the HTPC the way you want it. Also, the cheaper low-end HD5xxx cards will be coming out in 1Q 2010 and that will reduce the cost of getting HD audio, you can get by with standard DD/DTS until then.
There are cheaper alternatives like the Western Digital HD Media player or one of the Popcorn Hour setups. They will not be as customizable as an HTPC though.