Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Rohnert Park, CA
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If your current HTPC has a shortcoming, list it here and someone can maybe help you.
An i3 (21xx) on a z68 motherboard + 8GB of ram will handle everything a customary HTPC needs to do... and all can be found for less than $250. (presuming you have a case, PSU, HDD and optical drive already).
I can also attest that adding an SSD (for your primary/boot drive, get a good synchronous drive over lots of GB) will provide the most noticeable performance improvement.