davidcole:geekiegeek:mcraenz: As for the seek speed, consider doing a nightly defrag on you recording disk. Id say GPU might worth looking at. I'm going to move my HTPC out of the lounge and run a long HDMI cable. That way I can have a full tower and not worry about noise. Because it seems impossible to find a card which is lowprofile, silent (no fan) and has tuns of video processing power. This is especially important for the 1080i content from freeview HD and sky.
Why have a video card at all, just go Intel ivy-bridge. Handles 1080i freeview fine.
My latest build is an ivy-bridge i5 (an i3 would also do) with stock cooler and an HVR 2200 capture card. That's it. just the CPU fan (on silent mode) and the power supply fan - whole thing is near silent. For quick channel change I use an SSD for OS and time-shift with a HDD for recording - everything else sits on a server under the house.
Same with the AMD A8 (and I'm assuming the A6 and A4 as well since the video GPU is the same) - but I understand your hesitancy regarding AMD, but I have no issues at all, and no GPU fan.
Imo there's handling and then there's handling. My 9400GT handles 1080i but it could be better in some scenes. and I've recently purchased a high-end Panasonic plasma and feel like the GPU is now the weakest linK. Also like the idea of having less stuff in the lounge.
But yeah I found the nightly scheduled defrag helped seek times in mediaportal.
Do people find the SSD for os makes a big difference?