Proving that we're not the only folks interested in building a high-def media center, Ars Technica just ran a nice article on Home Theater Personal Computers (HTPCs). Ars gives a nice overview on the capabilities of these boxes and provides two shopping lists of components if you're the handyman (or handywoman) of the house. One setup is the HPTC Hod Rod, which is power-packed but hits the wallet to the 7.1 tune of $2,175 before taxes and shipping. The HTPC Budget Box is more along the lines of what we put together and only fetches $893 of your budget.
Overall the lists are solid; if we had to pick something we didn't like it would be the on-board graphics use in the Budget Box. It might be worth a few extra dollars for a solid video card with dedicated memory.