___First off, are you sure you want to do this? Have you ever fdisked a new drive into 2 or more partitions, setup or updated a BIOS from scratch for maximum performance and stability, setup an MSI Master Slotket w/ its 9 set of jumpers if needed, installed any of the 3 major versions of windows with the custom install options, used Power Strip to create new resolutions, setup custom timings inside of a video drivers utilities, setup MS Office Professional 2000 including the SR-1 patch, TweakUI, or MB Monitor to watch your HW and SW environment, Live updated Win98 SE with only the update options that are needed, used msconfig for startup optimization, run Norton Utilities WinDoctor in manual so that you didnâ€™t screw up your entire system? Do you have a B/U recovery plan (B/U software) in place just in case something gets screwed up and you have to start over? Do you know about the performance differences between the I815â€™s memory latencies and the BX chipset at 133 MHz? Which Duron or Thunderbird can be OCâ€™ed on which boards and which cannot? Are you going to OC for the highest performance of all or accept the default for an also ran? This does not include the individual choices for what ASUS, Abit, AOpen, Epox, IWILL, GIGABYTE, MSI, Shuttle, SOYO, or Tyan board you want. Even your choices for the GeForce 2 GTS you will be purchasing can cause an hour or two write up for any of us and we will debate each other for the next 5 days on which is best! TV on or out of your HTPC is not a good idea just yet so you may want to save your money and purchase a Dish 6000 setup running into your Sony projector. Have you ever used a switchbox to swap form one input to the other?
___What about prices? Do you know you can pick up a 15 GB Maxtor 40+ from your local Office Depot tonight and possibly tonight only for just $85.00 after a pricematch? How about a PIII 700E for ~ $230.00 w/ a web based coupon. Do you know which CPU stepping you are going to buy? This one choice can be the difference between a great HTPC and the best HTPC. Does Australia have an Office Depot or Best Buy?
___The reason why I ask all of these questions is I do have customers that have quite a steep learning curve ahead of them and they only have to learn about the HTPC applications and utilities we are all using today. This does not include the build itself. We can discuss the options for the best HW and SW available for one of the cheapest or fastest HTPCâ€™s on the planet and it should not cost anywhere near $5,000.00. I would suspect you could build a very good to the best system for anywhere from $750.00 up to ~ $2000.00 including 15 to 75 GB/5400 to 7200 RPM drives, TNT2 Ultraâ€™s to GeForce 2â€™s, CLâ€™s Live Value IIâ€™s or the M-Audio DiO 2496â€™s. Your choices today are so numerous that any BX, I815, KX, or KT platform can do exactly what you will ask of them for HT use and yet do so much more. I try to spend ~ 3-4 hours a day looking at this kind of information and I can barely keep up myself. How willing are you to go the extra mile and setup one of these performance monsters is what it really comes down to.
___I would like you to do a little research before asking the exact questions because even if I name the best components and peripherals in my opinion today, tomorrow could and most likely will be another story altogether. Choose a platform and we will help you as much as we can but blind open ended questions like yours are too broad for a detailed answer of what you are looking for. Once you have paired your choice down to a platform, I am sure most of us are willing to give you all the advice you are looking for.
___In the mean time, here is a great place to start: How about an OCâ€™ed BX chipset using either an ASUS CUBX or an Abit BF6 for the board. I do not want to forget the brand new I815 ASUS CUSL2 as well. The MSI Master 6905 for a Slotket if needed is a good choice. An Intel PIII 700E for the CPU is a great choice as long as the stepping is correct. Micron 7E CAS2 PC133 SDRAM is one of the best. A ThermalTake GoldenOrb or a GlobalWin VOS-32 CPU F/HS Combination for CPU cooling are both good choices for low sound output or cooling performance. An EnLight 7237 M03 w/ 250 W PS or an Antec KS282 w/ 300 W PS for the cases are both decent choices. A CLâ€™s, ELSA, or ASUS GeForce 2 GTSâ€™ for the video cards. Live Value II, M-Audio DiO 24/96, DC Pro 2496, or even an Aureal Vortex II (although they are under CH 11 protection) for sound. You cannot go wrong with the 3COM/USR ISA HW, PCI HW, or PCI WinModem modems are all good choices. The Intel Pro 100+ NIC cannot be beat in most cases. A WD, Maxtor, Quantum, or IBM 5400 â€“ 7200 RPM drive in 45 to 75 GB size are very nice. Pioneer, Toshiba, or a Hitachi 32-40X/6-16X CD/DVD-ROM drives are all very capable for excellent DVD playback. Sony or TEAC FDâ€™s are as reliable as I have used in the past. MS Intellimouse w/ a Natural Pro KB is about the best available for non-IR type KB and Mouse. You cannot beat a CTX VL950 or PL9 for a 19â€ monitor as far as price and performance are concerned or move into a higher end Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Iiyama, or a Sony high-end monitor for the best in a PC display with cost being no object. An Extron switching device depending on what you need has been discussed here as possibly being the best. SW is another discussion for another thread as well.
___Since you are in Australia, why donâ€™t you contact Tony Lai and have him build you one for 200.00 â€“ 300.00 over cost if he is willing. I am sure he can do an HTPC justice given his informative posts here in the forum.
___Good Luck and enjoy your tens of thousands of combination choices ...
___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Hunt Club Farms Landscaping Ltd.
[This message has been edited by xcel (edited July 10, 2000).]