Several readers have written to request a list of parts and prices that I used for my Vista Media Center system. Here it is, with the caveat that the prices are bound to fluctuate. A few parts are more expensive now than they were then, some are cheaper, and the Dell C521 has been discontinued but can still be ordered from the Dell Outlet.
The system itself cost a total of $668. Here's a detailed breakdown of parts and specs.
Dell Dimension C521: $422 (Dell Outlet)
- AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 4000+
- 1GB DDR2 RAM 667MHz
- 256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro
- Onboard 10/100 Ethernet
- 160GB SATA drive (replaced with Samsung drive below)
- 16X DVD+/- RW w/ double layer write capability
In addition to those parts, I used a Logitech Harmony Remote 680 that I purchased for a bargain $105 in late 2005. It's no longer made, but Logitech makes plenty of other Harmony models that should work just fine. They just won't have the green button.
I also added a Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 Bluetooth keyboard. At $124 (Amazon.com), it's a little pricey, but it's so smoothly integrated with Media Center that it's worth it to me. Any Bluetooth keyboard should work just fine.
Update: As a reader pointed out via e-mail, I left out one part, a Media Center remote control with IR receiver. These are typically available for around $30; this model from PC Alchemy has all the hardware needed to connect additional IR emitters to two TV tuners. Although I use the Logitech Harmony 680 remote, the IR receiver is required to operate the system via the 10-foot interface.