BUDGET RANGE: £550 / $720
SYSTEM USAGE: Mainly used as HTPC (HD video), casual internet use.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S): Anything UK based (as long as it's reliable)
PARTS PREFERENCES: Not too bothered. Currentlly have AMD 955 and GTX 260 in main set up for gaming. But will switch to whatever is best for the money.
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe
MONITOR RESOLUTION: Currently using an LG 50PS3000 at 1600x1200 and also using a 5.1 LG surround sound system (has optical).
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm a fan of windowed cases, would like to try and keep it as quiet as possible. These arent too important for me.
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor/keyboard/mouse - Maybe OS (Have a spare Vista Disc to use, but may want to upgrade to Win7).
I'd also like to put in as much storage as possible. Would like to start with at least 1TB, then add to it later if this isnt possible, then at least 500GB. Also, I'm not bothered about having a Blu-Ray drive as I have a PS3 for this and I just think it would be waste.
From my research I recommend a motherboard with integrated graphics, as this is all thats necessary for an HTPC and keeps temperatures low as well as power consumption. Since HTPC's are usually micro ATX cases, temperatures can become a problem.
I also went with a 500 GB OS drive and a 1.5 TB 5400 RPM media drive.
This is all my two cents, if you want me to post my build I'd be happy to
Like cmcghee, I went with an HTPC case that looks like a regular receiver type component (NMediaPC 200B). One thing I would mention is storage capacity. This style of case often comes with only one or two 3 1/2" internal drive bays. Makes expansion of storage capabilities quite limited.
There are HTPC cases like cmcghee's and mine that have more internal drive bays, so you may want to keep looking.
Thanks for the input guys. I've been researching this most of the day (at work.... I have nothing better to do ). Anyway, I'm going against the "receiver" look and going with a standard case, mainly for capacity and looks. Also, I was hoping you could take a look at what I've chosen so far and point me in the right direction to finish it off!
CPU - AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition - Planning on opening up the other cores
CPU - It's my understanding that opening up additional cores on CPU's is rather hit and miss. By no means will you be guaranteed success. The other thing is, if all you're doing is playing back video (dvds, internet video), you don't need anything more than a dual-core processor. Heck, my mom's ATOM330 (dual-core 1.6GHz) does that. For your purposes, I'd stick with a straight dual-core or tri-core AMD or if budget allows, look at the Intel CoreI3 530/540
MOBO - That's the first Sapphire Technologies motherboard I've seen. I know they do graphic cards (one of my preferred manufacturers). It always bothers me when a motherboard manufacturer does not have a clear link to a particular boards supported CPU list. From what I can see, however, this board only supports AM2/AM2+ CPUs. No AM3s.
RAM - This is going to be based on which board you end up with.
Case - Really, it's your personal choice. I would think that the front display dials might be distracting, but it's really up to you.
HDD - I've heard some bad things about the Samsung F2 series that were corrected/fixed with the F3 series. If possible, go with an F3. The case you're looking at has 6 internal 3.5" expansion bays, so theoretically, you can fit up to 6 hard drives into the system. Personally, I'd get one small drive for the OS/Applications and two large drives for media storage (with the second drive acting as backup).
GPU - Again, this kind of depends on which motherboard you end up getting. Most (if not all) of the newer AMD boards will handle HD video playback without using a discrete graphics card. On the Intel side, going with a CoreI3 processor and H55 motherboard falls in the same category of not needing a discrete graphics card. If you do decide to use a graphics card, you're right in that it doesn't need to be that much of one. I'd say the GeForce 240GT is about right
PSU - This is actually rather easy: Antec, PC Power and Cooling, Seasonic, Corsair. Any of those four in the 400-600 watt range (you'll want higher in that range as you add more hard drives) will suffice.
Optical Drive: Really hard to go wrong here so long as you go with a SATA drive.
So long as you're going with a discrete graphics card, pretty much any of these will do (note: there are five pages). Just make sure you check for the CPU Compatibility Chart before you buy. Personally, I like Gigabyte and ASUS brands, but that's just me. The system I just built for my mother uses an MSI board.
You'll also need to check if you need to go with DDR2 or DDR3 memory: Kingston, G-Skill, Corsair... any will do so long as it works with your selected motherboard.