OK, I've had as one of my systems an ION-2 setup with a dual-core Atom that plays most things I throw at it... until I add videos with subtitles. I've followed all the guides on how to tweak it that I can find (including which versions of MPC-HC and video splitters and such), and while I can get fairly decent 720p with subtitles, 1080p as often as not comes out as more of a slide show than a video.
When I've built systems before I've tried to put aside around $1K or so to make sure I can build an overall machine that does most things well (all my other machines have a Core i7 of one sort or another). However this machine will live in my family room, and really is going to be 90% video playback of either downloaded files or streaming, with the occasional web browsing.
What is a realistic budget for such a machine? I presume I could get by with as little as a Core i3 as long as I get a decent graphics card? How decent of an nVidia do I need though?
vrumor - The system is claiming I don't have any PM's... ?
k1114 - Generally the newer video filters such as MadVR and LAV do allow for GPU or Hardware acceleration. The only time you tend to see CPU performance hit is if you are using 10-bit files.
rdc85 - the problem with the form is that it presumes you know what you want already and are just looking for comments on specifics or suggestions for alternatives. At this point I'm not sure what I need, so am being a bit more open ended. I can certainly try putting together the cheapest thing I "think" will work, but was hoping the folks here might be able to help me narrow down what trade-offs I can or can't make first.
Thanks to everyone for the info/suggestions so far!