Originally Posted by jaybob1807
I got your back, Jaybob.
It depends on a couple of things, starting with who you are as a person (long term thinker vs short term) and your budget.
I started about 9 months ago to upgrade from old school 2.0 speakers with receiver from the 1990's, to all the neat stuff that will attach with HDMI cables to my HDTV. I wanted something that was mainstream, mature technology, and I was wasn't worried about 4K passthrough and 11.1 speakers. I essentially wanted a 5.1 system and some other features I thought I wanted, specifically bi-amp capability (a 7.1 AVR which uses 5.1 system and the other two channels for bi-amp) and I wanted something that might be used for a pre-amp if I wanted to add power later on. The Onkyo NR-717 was a great choice for me, and I can recommend it, and other HIGHER rated Onkyo's. I would not recommend the lower Onkyo models due to numerous complaints about the HDMI circuits failing, read all about it via Google.
The OTHER way to go is to get EXACTLY what you want, and don't pay extra for features you will not use. For instance I just picked up an AVR for my son for his entry level 5.1 system, a refurb Denon AVR 1513 for $150. The electronics sound great, at 75 wpc it is plenty of power, and you are not paying for wireless radio, or 3D capability, or any of the features found on "hi end" AVRs. This was a GREAT CHOICE for him. I have the fancy internet radio on mine, but I don't plan on using it, so why pay extra?
You asked what is the "popular choice." I would suggest you peruse the AVR section of AVS to find out, because that is a moving target as new models are introduced, and older closeout models go on sale. I know many people here suggest the model above mine, the Onkyo NR818 for a variety of good reasons, and it runs another $150 above my NR717 right now (about $650).
Edit: BTW I think the NR717 runs about 135 wpc to each channel. Right now it is powering my DIY SEOS Fusion Pure 10's, and the sound is pure and clean from very LOW power (which my wife likes, it is very clear at low volumes) to VERY loud, which I like for some types of music (jazz, horns and drums). I think the speakers would take more power if I had it, but if I had it, I wouldn't use it, as I already don't use everything the Onkyo has to offer and the sound is coming close to ear damage loud, with volume level set to about 77, with 100 max. 82 is reference level on the Onkyo.