You’ve probably had this question many times, so sorry if it sounds like a stuck record.
Essentially, I want a media player, which is able to play the highest quality HD movies + 3D Movies, and music (mp3), all of which can be accessed via my TV and AV receiver.
I have two options in my head; build a PC with a decent processor and graphics card + audio. My priorities are keeping the power consumption down to a minimum, whilst not restricting what can be done with it, now and in the reasonable future. (2 – 3 Years) I like the XBMC software, and will want to use that primarily, and Cyberlink for 3D Movies. Of course, I still want to be able to do all the other things one would expect, i.e browse the net, etc… but like to do this via a remote or wireless keyboard/mouse combination. Audio is also important, but have been told, that a decent graphic cards will come with all the necessary abilities to transfer sound via HDMI, with all the current 5.1, 7.2, Dolby, DTS, etc… combinations to my AV reciever (correct me if wrong and please advise) Price is not really an object, but I want to be as power usage conscious as I can. Gaming is good, but its not a critical factor, but nice to have some capability. My current view is an Intel i5 processor, and a AMD Radeon card, as these appear to be rather power efficient, without going silly. Maybe the other thing I should mention, is that I am intending to have a large case, to be able to house, several 3TB hard drives, if I can, as I have a huge huge collection of music and movies.
Option 2 is to go with a dedicated media play. Not sure of what’s good and what not. My key reason against this option is, they all appear to have crappy interfaces, and limited ability to have all my data accessible, i.e. a few usb sockets. (unless I really don’t know what I am talking about and you can correct me.) They also have poor browsers and usually limited as to how long these can be updated.
Can anyone advise as the plan is to have this up and running by Christmas.
If it were strictly a media playing system, I would probably recommend one of the AMD Trinity APUs as the core of your system. If there is a possibility of gaming on this system, then I'd go with an Intel Core I3 and discrete graphics card. Either route will give you quality audio through your receiver.
The real question is how many rooms do you want to have access to this media? If it's just the living room and up to one other room, then the Core I3 setup will work for you. If you want to add two or three other rooms, then I'd look at a quad-core Core I5/AMD Trinity APU. More than that, and you're looking at a AMD Hexa/Octo- core processor and discrete graphics card. The rule of thumb is 1 core and 2GB of RAM per room.