Originally Posted by Smallville
Case: Cooler Master Elite 360, $40
MB: Biostar A880G+, $55
CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 255 3.1 GHz, $63
RAM: cheapest 1.5V 4GB DDR3 kit you can find, $40 (it's only like $10 diff going from 2GB to 4GB)
Remote: Logitech Harmony 300, $30 + MCE IR receiver, $5~10 (ebay)
How does the E350 compare to this? I see that I have to buy a separate video card compared to the E350 which already has a GPU in it. The CPU seems a lot more powerful. 3.1 GHz compared to 1.6
You don't need to buy a separate video card. The 880G's HD 4200 graphics also does hardware decode acceleration of the usual suspects. Also, it's not just the clock rate. Clock for clock, the Athlon II X2 (heck, even an Athlon 64 X2) is faster than Zacate.
Zacate (E-350) has a better GPU (HD 6310) than the integrated HD 4200 on the 880G, however, I'd take the extra CPU power on Regor (Athlon II X2) anyday. It's easy to add a discrete GPU to the latter (Regor) in case you need a better GPU. With the former (Zacate), while it might have a better GPU, if you require even a smidgen of CPU power, you're going to have to replace the CPU and motherboard which ends up being more expensive.
As for HD Netflix, it's not a driver issue. It's about the Silverlight player lacking support for hardware decode acceleration and while Silverlight 5 (still in beta) adds GPU decode acceleration for H.264, it might not help at all with Netflix since it appears Netflix uses VC-1. Zacate just doesn't have the necessary CPU power for Netflix 720p. Even overclocked to 1.92 GHz, Zacate still falls short.
By the way, since you also need a PSU, I suggest going with the following:
COOLER MASTER Elite 360 RC-360-KKR1 with Thermal Master 350w Power Supply
The PSU is nothing to write home about but it should be good enough to handle the above build even if you add up to an HD 6670 GPU. You also don't need the Harmony remote (a $30 expense). That was recommended for someone who wanted better integration with their HT equipment. With those changes, that should allow adding a 500GB~1TB HDD while keeping within your $250 max budget.Edited by rui-no-onna - 5/15/11 at 10:14pm