As I eluded to above, a couple of ways around a high price tag is to use
what you already have. Did you recently upgrade to a quad core CPU and
have a perfectly good older dual core CPU and motherboard now just lying
around? With a video upgrade, a case, and some storage upgrades, you could
have a perfectly great HTPC to use. Perhaps looks aren't a concern and you
have a mid-tower case that can be stuffed out of the way. Great! Buy a few
hundred dollars in parts with the advice given below and you should be
good to go.