One minor note about my homemade case--I removed the foam since it didn't seem to have any effect on the temperatures and didn't reduce noise as I had hoped it might.
Ok.. I admire your effort and I'm sure that it works great as a work PC but there is no way in hell I'm putting that in my home. firstly it won't be pretty sitting under my TV.. in fact it won't even fit.. secondly.. fire hazard.. thirdly.. no electrical shielding.. fourthly.. the holes everywhere are ugly.
btw.. did you find out why your HDTV playback was jerky? I don't think it should be jerky on a Cel2.4 unless it were overheating and throttling the CPU clock. If you need more CPU cooling then may I suggest a proper HSF like a Alpha 8942T with a Panaflo _sucking_ off it, through a duct out of the side of the case? Just a thought, criticism welcome.
The bulk of the guts were a Fry's deal for $150--the motherboard, P4Celeron 2.4, and 256Mb RAM. I've since heard bad things about Fry's and their computer equipment, so I'll be wary of them in the future. The PSU, a Fortron 350, I got at NewEgg's regular price of $42. The hard drives were ones I already had lying around, but hard drives are one place where it REALLY pays off to wait/hunt for deals. The difference between regular and sale prices can be greater than a 1:2 ratio!
Unfortuntely there is no real equivalent to Fry's in the UK but there are some sources of older stuff at cheap prices (like computer fairs and the like). To give you a taste of how UK vs US prices look then consider the cost of a Fortron 350 here in the UK - it's about 55 GBP excluding delivery
(that's over 100 bucks!!).
So in conclusion, from a UK point of view, I could get creative on an XBox for 120GBP (plus cost of modchip) which only has one fan or build something like Isaac suggests which'll set me back at least 300GBP with one (noisy) stock Intel HSF and a (more acceptable) 120mm PSU fan.
Granted I'll have substantially more power in Isaac's solution but I only want DVD/DivX/streaming playback not a full HTPC with digital TV capture and all that exciting stuff.
isaac had an earlier post about his inexpensive, homemade case: here
. dunno about buying all the guts in that PC for the price of an xbox though.
some mini-itx mobos are fairly cheap and highly integrated and could be bought for less than an xbox. but you still need drives, memory, PSU etc. if you haven't seen http://www.mini-itx.com
its worth a look just for all the crazy things people make cases out of. it may give you some new ideas.
Thanks for the links flyingsherpa. re:mini-itx.. yeah, I know all about it - mobos aside I really like the slot loading DVD/CDRW combo drive - very expensive but sweeet. Also, most miniITX systems use the EPIA chips which are pretty good but they aren't really the mutt's nuts when it comes to multimedia.. there are some faster ones but they aren't fanless