Since my last post I've made a start in spec'ing a budget multimedia PC:
- Antec NSK2480 (virtually silent case and PSU with 12cm fan, that looks nice too)
- Asus AM3 AMD 785G DDR2 mATX A L motherboard (Gb LAN, 7.1 surround with digital optical out, and 1080p HDMI output onboard)
- Kingston ValueRAM 1GB KVR DDR3 NonECC CL7 DIMM
- Western Digital 500GB Caviar Green 32MB SATA (almost silent drive)
- AMD SEMPRON 140 2.7GHZ AM3 1MB 45W
- Belkin Wireless Lounge Mouse (for armchair control)
I'm in the UK and I found most of the components cheapest at www.dabs.com, although they don't stock the Antec case. The above build comes to around Â£250, which in comparison to the Popcorn hour is very reasonable IMHO.
You could shave a few pounds off the build if you go for a cheap case with a noisy PSU (not exactly what you want sitting in your lounge next to your TV, though!)
For a few pounds more, I'd add:
- larger HDD (the 1.5Tb drive in the same range currently offers the best value)
- a better CPU (the AMD ATHLON II X2 240 2.8GHZ AM3 is only another Â£15)
- more RAM (up to 16Gb supported)
- a Bluray drive (c. Â£50)
If you really want to go to town, splash out on a twin tuner digital TV card and use the system as a PVR too, though you might want to go for a better multi-core CPU to avoid any bottlenecks.
I found an excellent resource here for silent components, which was my starting point.