Sweet but not cheap
I have my preliminary product hunting done for my Entertainment PC. The prices were a little higher than I expected, but this was a quick run through of the pieces and parts. I might be able to shave a few dollars off by going with an AMD processor instead of an Intel. I also could save money going to 256 MB of RAM vs. 512 MBs. That is a bit over kill.
Nuts! I forgot the hard drives! I was going to get a smaller 40GB (or maybe a 20 if I can find one) for the main drive. It would be partitioned into two drives. One drive would simply be for the OS and other software. The second larger partition would be for my MP3s. I would then get a larger 100-120 GB drive for the secondary. This would be strictly used for video and PVR usage as those will eat hard drive space like its popcorn. Thus the need for the DVD drive to burn the shows I want to keep to DVD.
I've not listed it but I was also considering DVD authoring software. I imagine any DVD burner will have some OEM software bundled with it, but it's highly debatible how good it will be. Being of the creative mindset I would enjoy creating DVD menus.
I've also considered that I may forgo the DVD burner on this PC all together. But the burner and authoring software on my regular PC and just transfer the video over the network when I needed it to burn. Doing this I could maybe get away with an 80 or 100 GB drive, instead of the newer 120s. Also standard DVD drives are pretty cheap in comparison to the burners. I could pick up a cheap DVD player for $60-80 probably.
The audio and video cards are pretty high end, but they have to be. They are the meat and potatos of this system. Skimp on those and they system won't be worth anything.
Cases can vary greatly in price. The one I picked is aluminum, thus more durable and small enough to place in your entertainment center case.
The software is a pain. Most of it is optional, but Windows isn't. That's a bit of a requirement. Linux could be subsituted if you knew what you were doing and the audio/video cards were supported. To me that's more work than it is worth.
I also haven't mentioned that this machine would actually make a pretty mean game station, depending on video output. I've played with connecting my PC to my TV while playing Unreal and Quake and found that the TV couldn't keep up well. Most video games have refresh rates above 30 frames per second, for optimal playing. NTSC, the TV standard here in the US is right at 30 frames per second. Your TV cannot go faster than that. It wasn't designed to do so. This could make gaming choppy.
I'm going to bed. My brain is full.