Funny, my most recent HTPC build with stuff I picked up at Black Friday almost reads like the guide. Great minds think alike (or just do a lot of research and a lot of build and know the good stuff)
. I think it's funny how it's even the same RAM & wireless adapter
Here's what I ended up with and my random thoughts:
Antec MicroFusion Remote 350 uATX Case (got this for only $55 after rebate!)
Intel Core i3-540 CPU
ASUS P7H55-M/CSM LGA 1156 Intel H55 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBNQ
Kingston SSDNow V100 SV100S2N/64GZ 2.5" 64GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner
Rosewill RNX-N250PC PCI Wireless B/G/n Adapter
The CPU/Motherboard/RAM was part of a great combo deal made even better by Black Friday pricing. The combo also included a 1TB Seagate drive but I am using that in an enclosure as a backup drive for my WHS. I keep my media on a WHS so the SSD was perfect (and very much on-sale) for making the HTPC more like an appliance (quick to turn on and off). SSDs are addicting and make it so easy just to shutdown or sleep the HTPC since it comes right back on. With 64GB it has enough room for Window 7, the very few applications and to cache TV recordings until they are archived to the WHS (nightly). It doesn't hurt that I got it via a killer sale.
My experience with the case wasn't great. The LCD came broken but Antec was very quick (within days) to get me a new one. I found managing the wiring in the case very difficult and the DVD burner interfered with the memory and power on the board making it even more difficult. I really like the look of this case and how it looks very much like a DVR/DVD player combo. I very much like that it comes with a built-in IR receiver. The little remote that comes with it works well enough. It's simple (two clicks) to get it to use a WMC remote instead. Brilliant.
Now that it's together though it works very well. Lowest WEI score is 4.8 for graphics. Best scores are for the CPU and SSD, both 6.9. Everything flies. My main HTPC is jealous. I am in the process of setting up the metadata for the movies in W7MC. Next step will be to get MPC-HC working with my MKV files. After that I can hook it up to our flat panel TV.
My main HTPC uses a nMediaPC 1000B case. It was my 2nd HTPC build. I love this case quite a bit. I think the nMediaPC cases are the best bang for the buck. However, the little LCD module that you can buy separately is horrible. It's very difficult to see except straight on. The LCD module in the Antec case is much better.
I have two of the i3-540 CPUs in different builds and the stock heatsink fan is really loud -- louder than any AMD stock heatsink fan I've used.
The future of HTPC is very exciting with the AMD Zacate (aka Fusion) products coming out. I envision very small settops thank use < 30W doing what my machines now that have 350W/380W PSUs can do. When Llano comes out it will be even better.