My co-worker Krishnan is truly the gadgeteer. He has more techie stuff than anyone I've ever known, including myself. He is also an expert on all things HD and Media-y. So, I asked him "should I buy a Media Center PC or build?" I had picked out a lovely $2500 system.
UPDATE - June 2005: Make sure your motherboard and case match. If you click on the D6 link below, be aware that depending on stock on hand Newegg.com may offer you a "similar" motherboard. For one reader they recommended an ATX mobo and Micro-ATX and that's not cool. Also, while note that the Ahanix D6 is not the 601. I currently recommend the LARGER standard ATX Ahanix 601. Make sure you measure as some of these cases are pretty deep.
He said that he just built one from scratch for around $1500. Here's what he did:
This system is totally HD ready, and Krishnan said he taped 11 hours of 1080i SuperBowl content into about 43gigs without a hitch. He's using it as his primary PVR now.
Does anyone know if you can somehow "coerce" or upgrade (laterally?) Windows XP Pro into being a Media Center machine? Perhaps my existing main machine (with specs better than these) could do double duty, without reinstalling, etc.
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.