There are a few key components that go into every solid home theater PC (HTPC) solution. AMD and Intel have low-power processors that help minimize thermal loads, keeping systems cooler and quieter. Several chipset options from AMD, Intel, and Nvidia now offer powerful-enough integrated graphics for HTPC needs, enabling platforms that don't require discrete graphics, yet are still able to accelerate Blu-ray playback and bitstream high-def audio formats.
We already looked at several mainstream HTPC cases in October. Now it's time to review a handful of high-end enclosures. With the holidays behind us, there's a good chance that you have a little gift money left over to splurge on a deluxe chassis. Don't let the disappointments of previous-generation HTPCs negatively affect your decision; the hardware available now is more capable than ever of displacing dedicated home theater equipment. Truly, there's never been a better time than now to tackle an HTPC project.