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:
- AHANIX D6 Media Center Black Enclosure With 350W SATA Power Supply & VFD Display, Model "X236"
- Intel "BOXD925XCVLK" 925X Chipset Motherboard For Intel LGA 775 CPU
- Intel LGA 775 Pentium 4 540J 3.2 GHz, 800MHz FSB, 1MB L2 Cache w/ Hyper Threading Technology
- CORSAIR VALUESELECT Kit 240-Pin 1GB(2 x 512MB) DDR2 PC2-4200, Model VS1GBKIT533D2
- SAPPHIRE ATI RADEON X600 XT Video Card, 256MB DDR, 128-Bit, DVI/VIVO, PCI Express, Model "100594L"
- ATI HDTV Wonder Remote Control Edition PCI TV Tuner, Model "100-714127"
- Sapphire Theatrix Theatre 550Pro PCI TV Tuner Card with Remote Control, Model "100104SR"
- Maxtor 250GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive, Model 6B250S0
- Microsoft Windows XP Media Center 2005
- Remote Control with Receiver for Microsoft Windows XP Media Center
- Lite-On 16X, Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Drive, Model SOHW-1633S Black
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.