What I have and am willing/will need to replace:
Stock AMD Phenom II Callisto CPU cooler
Antec EarthWatts 380W PSU EA-380
Sometime in the next 12-18 months I will probably purchase an HD TV that will serve as one of the "heads" for this system. Until that time, one head will drive a conventional 32" TV. I'd also like to get a dedicated video card to drive a separate computer monitor so that the same system can be used to play games.
Will I need any special software to support DVR capabilities? How about commercial skipping? I have a friend that recommends MPG4 encoding over MPG2. The HW listed below encodes in MPG2, are the video input cards that encode in MPG4, or should I just let the CPU handle that workload?
Will I need to upgrade my Win7 Home Edition?
Also my current system is very quiet. I would prefer that all additional components are also quiet.
I suppose that if I'm not getting a dedicated high-end graphics card, then I won't need the new PSU either.
I won't need the after market HSF unless I plan to over-clock.
Ultimately I will need/want the RAID 5 capability because I have nothing that even approaches the ability to back that data up. However, $270 for such a system seems pretty steep. I could go with cheaper drives (say 0.5T for $55) but that's not nearly as good a price point for the amount of storage I gain.
What type of TV signal are you hoping to record? TV tuner cards work great for OTA transmissions, but you'll only get unencrypted channels if you're using cable. I would get the HVR-2250 instead of the 1600. I have both in my HTPC, but the 2250 is better. It has a dual tuner that can be used for either analog or digital recording. The 1600 only has one analog and one digital tuner.
I wouldn't get a 4850. The new 5xxx series are perfect for a HTPC and light gaming. Here's a very nice card for the money: