I've caught the HTPC bug again. I've been meaning to build one for a half-dozen years, but the technology wasn't ever where I wanted it. However, I have my first big screen TV this season and now that they can play Blu-Rays, I'm ready to go!
Primarily I'm looking for a smooth Windows 8 experience, Blu-Ray and HDMI out (bitstream would be nice for when I get a receiver) and WiFi. I'm thinking a small SSD would suffice, since I plan mostly on streaming from my home server. TV Tuner/DVR/WMC isn't necessary, but I did just discover today that I can get some OTA channels, so I wouldn't be adverse to the idea.
I'd be fine with any smallish case - the Zotac wall mount looks cool, but I can work with another little box too. Something quiet, obviously, with a few extra USB ports, etc.
So here's my question: based on a budget of $300-500, should I buy or build? If I should build, do you have any recommendations? I'll use any recommendations to get my research started in earnest, because I haven't put any time into dreaming about an HTPC since 2009 or so!
i always build my own personally you can spec it out how you want and its far more satisfying knowing you built it yourself im running mine in a silverstone case about the same size as my onkyo amp but like you said i would like to try sff too when money permits, if your not looking at gaming on it i would definately go a little i3 it will handle your hdmi and bitstreaming etc and will do it alot cooler and more efficiently than an amd could ever dream of those are the 2 most important things with a good htpc ( mines a athlon2 250 with a hd6450 which is fine for what i expect it to do, bluray 3d bitstreamed, tv recording, etc and wish the new i3's were available when i got my latest htpc). alot of people will suggest the amd apu's ok if you wanna do some very light gaming but really if like me you have a nice big 55 inch 3d sammy if you were to play games on it you wouldnt wanna skimp on the detail or the resolution so in my books that rules them out for the likes of bf3 and the games i play. also you will probably find the bluray player the noisiest part of the build to so i rip as many of my movies as possible
I've seen a lot of people going the atom route. Is that not a good idea?
i just find the atoms are to slow even basic web browsing i notice it, i dont know about bitstreaming with their built in gpu either you may have to use discrete gpu, i could be wrong just do your research the may use like the nvidia ion gpu or something like that