I have been researching the implementation of an HTPC into my new man cave for a few months now and I always seem to get stuck on the following: pre-built (ZBOX/ION system) or a build of my own? I am not a novice builder; I have built my last 3 PCs spanning 11 years of gaming. But this one is a new foray that has me a little worried. I wonder if building my own unit will get me that much more performance/$ when compared to something like the following:
My alternative would be a miniATX build with an nMEDIA PC case. I am not a stickler for any brands in particular when it comes to this build, so feel free to hit me with AMD/Intel/nVidia until the cows come home. Budget is in the range of the above link ($350-$500).
For further info, this rig will be 100% media only. Movies streaming wireless, some TV and music to my HDTV. There is a good chance that my wife will choose to hit the bean bag chair and surf the web on it as well, so there may be some light, browser based gaming. I would like to stick with a high-end mobile GPU (like the HD6000 series) just in case this branches out into something much more. That is why the ZBOX above is pretty heavy in that department. Additionally, I have a 2TB external for storage and I would most likely be running Ubuntu over Windows. I have a friend who is a Ubuntu fanboi/guru who has offered to help me out with that.
Any build advice that you guys can offer is much appreciated!
You are much better off building yourself over that Atom setup. Look toward the AMD FM1 platform. It is perfect for an HTPC setup, and some light gaming at 1080 resolution. You can opt up to a higher A6 or an A8 if you prefer higher clock speeds, but for media purposes this tri-core is more than enough...
MB - My recommendation for the ASRock motherboard was for lack of other options in the ITX form factor. Don't get me wrong... it is a good board, but outside of ITX I look for ASUS, Gigabyte, then ASRock. For the FM1 platform I would opt for A75 over A55. There is a Gigabyte for $5 more than the ASRock (link below). ASUS would be the first choice, but not at a 30% premium over your ASRock and Gigabyte options.
Gigabyte FM1 A75 => http://www.canadacomputers.com/product_info.php?cPath=2...
I switched out the card reader for a cheaper one from Bytecc (the only other brand they carry in stock). Worse comes to worse, I will order something closer to what you linked and add it in later; I may purchase the components today.