I have been a long time reader of this website and forum; always great reviews and insight on the latest technology!
I am taking my first jump into an HTPC build. I want to dump Comcast and use Windows 7 Media Center (7MC) to watch network TV (HD over antenna) and stream video from my home server which consists of DivX videos as well as 720p/1080p MKV files.
Are these specs going to keep me happy with no suttering? This isn't going to be used for gaming or word processing or Minesweeper...just media :-) Note that any post-processing / encoding would be done separately on the server.
* Case: ANTEC Veris MicroFusion 350
* Mobo: ASUS P7H55-M PRO, LGA1156, Intel® H55
* Proc: INTEL Core™ i3-530 Dual-Core 2.93GHz
* Cooler: ZALMAN CNPS8700 NT CPU Coole
* RAM: OCZ 4GB (2 x 2GB) Platinum Low Voltage DDR3
* HD: WESTERN DIGITAL 750GB WD Caviar® Black
* Tuner: Hauppauge WINTV-HVR-2250
My only remaining item is to find a Bluray drive that matches the case.
From my own HTPC experience, the OS/apps need about 30GB and recorded HD 1080i content take up about 8GB per hour. So you could probably get by with a 500GB drive which is right in the sweet spot for price/storage ratio. That would give you about 30-40 hours of recorded TV possible before you fill up. If that's enough for your needs you'll be fine.
I have 2TB of HDD space in my HTPC and by far the most space is taken up by ripped media (music, DVD's, Blu-Rays) and not recorded TV, but that is due to my own digital entertainment habits.
One thing to keep in mind. I know you said you'd be interested in dumping comcast, but ceton is releasing a quad cablecard tuner in march that'll let you record/watch up to 4 different channels simultaneously. I think there's another cablecard tuner allowing up to two channels at once, but I forget who's making it. But depending on how good your OTA hd is, you might be fine with what you've got.
I built an HTPC last Nov and just added a TV card. We dumped satellite 3 years ago. My main issue now is finding an antenna that provides reliable reception. I have to use an indoor one. Right now the $3 rabbit ears are working but I want a little more consistency. I have to move them around a lot to get reception. But I digress.
I'm looking forward to my next build which will use an i3 and discrete video card. I want to build something that has some gaming potential.
I'm interested in what your final configuration is.