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Okay for a media center the CPU I would use :

AMD 64 X2 4400+ Toledo core..for USD$ 497 if you were looking for high performance and an effective lifespan...specs here..oh and if a reasonable price point was used.

but

For something on the less expensive side of things. You could go for an AMD 64 3700+ San diego core..for USD$ 222..specs here

cheers
 

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I would go with intel because they seem to encode video faster, but if you want to go dual-core, I don't think you have much of a choice but to go AMD. So i guess either a 3GHz Prescott or an AMD X2.
 

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In my opinion, you should go with an AMD system because they run a lot cooler so you can get quieter cooling for the system to enjoy the sounds of the media and not the sounds of the cooling systems. I just built a media center pc and the biggest thing that annoys me about it is the sounds of the fans. I guess this shouldn't be the one decisive factor, but it is something you should consider.
 
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