OK, here goes my config:
under $1000, one core pc, one md pc....
I'm not using myth, so i don't have a video capture board yet...(maybe that brings this over 1k?)
I have 2 pc's...both Dell precision 460's, XEON 2.4 ghz with 1 Gig ram, and 60 Gig hd's. Got em for $420 each on Ebay with 2 year warranties.
Added a second 1 Gb nic to the core pc, and put an nvidia 6xxx video card in the second one (can't remember which, but it was $79.00)
This has proven to be a very good setup for testing/playing with linuxmce...the pc's are big and noisy, but I have them in a closet so it doesn't matter....the hard drives are a bit small, but again, for testing purposes, they work well, and hold a fair amount of video...My plan is to use my file server (yet another box) as the primary storage anyway.
Linux mce dropped onto the core system from the DVD install very nicely...took no time at all. setting up the MD was even easier. I'm currently driving my 47" LCD at 720p, and looking forward to 1080P with the 0710 release. It seems like the processor is fast enough to playback 720p HD video streams...not sure about 1080p yet....
I'm not sure I would have bought these specifically for linuxMCE, but I had them from another project I was working on and they've migrated themselves to mce quite nicely.
I've been looking at the fiire systems and drooling...but what I've got is working fine at this stage...