Been lurking here for a while, but i'm finally about ready to pull the trigger on building a HTPC.
My two main requirements are that it have excellent audio output for music (I have some great old McIntosh gear) and that it be relatively thin to blend well with the rest of my system.
For audio, I am pretty committed to an ASUS Xonar STX PCIe x1 card, which will go stereo out to my Mac preamp for stereo music listening and spdif out to an only-ok Sony AV receiver for 5.1 listening. The main issue with this is that it is a full height pcie card, so I need a slim case that will support this (presumably with a flex riser card ).
For a case, I am thinking the Wesena e5 (which allows for 1 full size PCIe card). From what I can tell I really like the look of this case.
For processor I am thinking a Core i3 2100/2105.
For motherboard I am thinking about either one of a million H67/Z68 ITX motherboards, or the Zotac ITX B-E motherboard that includes a GT430 card built in (this board is attractive because the wesena only has 1 expansion slot).
In addition to high quality audio listening, my main video uses will be blueray disks and netflix/hulu/hbo go/youtube streaming. Eventually I may add (probably external) a cablecard capable tuner, but don't need that now.
My main question is about the graphics card I'd need to play blueray disks and netflix (and other streaming) well (for example Netflix in HD mode). Will the integrated HD3000 cut it? Or would the GT430 make a big difference? Will the frame rate issue make a difference for blueray or netflix? Would something like madvr (which I know i would need the GT430 to use well). I do absolutely no gaming.
Presumably, using integrated graphics would reduce power consumption and noise (not to mention cost), so if the HD3000 will cut it, I'll go with that. Otherwise, I'll probably go with the Zotac board. Or I could go with a different case (i'm thinking the Silverstone LC02) that allows more than 1 expansion card, but I do really like the Wesena best.
Thanks for reading this whole thing. Any advice that you have on this whole thing would be greatly appreciated. And sorry for no links, I guess I don't have enough posts.