After many, many years of being laptop based, I've decided to build a new tower. That being said, I might be rusty. I've read quite a bit here on the forums, done a fair bit of research, and spec'd out what I think I'm going to go with. If you wouldn't mind, I'd appreciate some advice though to make sure I'm in the right ballpark.
Approximate Purchase Date: this week
Budget Range: $600 out the door, after tax and shipping. I'm ok with using rebates.
System Usage from Most to Least Important: First priority, HTPC/media server. Second priority, as much gaming as I can squeeze out of a $600 build (I'm realistic and know it will likely only be mid-level game performance.)
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com; open to others. 45 minutes from a Micro Center, so that's an option too.
Parts Preferences: no particular preference
SLI or Crossfire: Probably not
Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (using hdmi to a 52" 1080p hdtv)
1. The primary use will be HTPC. I do all my tv watching via usenet/torrent downloads. Current setup has them stored on my laptop and streamed to my ps3 via ps3 media server. New build needs to be moderately quiet.
2. I'm unfamiliar with how analog 5.1 connections work. On my all-in-one stereo, I have 2 optical inputs in-use. I believe I also have one un-used analog input (single RCA style plug). If I'm following things right, I should be able to output 5.1 from the audio jack on the mobo to the analog RCA input (with the proper cable)? I've read that this will only give me 5.1 on video things, not games which would require a dedicated sound card. 5.1 sound for gaming is not necessary for the initial build.
3. If I decide in the future to make it more of a serious gaming machine, I'll consider a beefy gfx at that time.
Here's what I've come up with:
AMD Phenom II X4 960T Zosma 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor HD96ZTWFGRBOX
$139 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103995
ZOTAC AMP! ZT-50402-10L GeForce GTX 550 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
$124 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500194
ASRock N68C-S UCC AM3/AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 7025 / nForce 630a Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
$49 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157204
Patriot Gamer 2 Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model PGD38G1333ELK
$29 after rebate - Already purchased
Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
$109 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148697
Rosewill Stallion Series RD450-2-DB 450W ATX V2.2 Power Supply
$34 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182022
Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
$39 after rebate - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129042
LITE-ON DVD Burner - Bulk 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model iHAS124-04 - OEM
$17 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106289
Estimated tax - $39
Estimated shipping - $20
Total estimated cost - $607
So, whatcha think?
Do you have no access to an old hard drive right now? Prices still haven't come down since the spike, so you're paying a huge premium for that 1TB drive. If you can scrounge a 250GB or so to get you by until the prices come down more, you could spend that money much more efficiently elsewhere in the build. Or maybe you can at least get away with a smaller drive? Not sure what the price/size curve looks like right now. I feel your pain, though, really wanting to pick up a new 2TB drive for my system as well.
EDIT: Also, the stickied build thread would be happy to help you further. They do budget rigs too. Not bad to do a thread, mind you, but you might get more views in there.
If not, I would absolutely consider a Core i3 processor (one of the T series, like this one.) I am not quite sure what Ivy Bridge will bring, but I have the 2100T in my HTPC (and a LP Radeon 6570) and I haven't had any problems with HD video. I really havent done any gaming with it, so I cant say much there. The total cost of my HTPC system was about $650 1 year ago, and most parts are still the same price (except for hard drives).
This is what I used in mine:
1 x ASUS P8H61-M (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel H61 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
1 x ASUS EAH6570/DI/1GD3(LP) Radeon HD 6570 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile Ready Video Card
1 x Intel Core i3-2100T Sandy Bridge 2.5GHz LGA 1155 35W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 BX80623I32100T
1 x G.SKILL NS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBNS
1 x SAMSUNG EcoGreen F4 HD204UI 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
1 x Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM
1 x IOGEAR GKM561R Black 2.4GHz Wireless HTPC Multimedia Keyboard with Laser Trackball and Scroll Wheel
1 x Standard A133 Black USB Wired Optical 800 dpi Mouse
1 x LG Black 10X Blu-ray Burner - Bulk SATA WH10LS30 LightScribe Support - OEM
1 x hec Black 0.7mm Thickness SECC Steel 7K09BBA30FNRX Micro ATX Media Center 300W Power Supply / HTPC Case