I would come to the defense of the people using their vast knowledge and spare time in making this project desirable. There are good reasons for the things that were said in response to the original post. These guys work very hard, and sacrifice very much for this project. They have my respect, and if you stick around, you will learn to respect them as well.
But as to cost, I can chime in on this as I do not have a lot of money for this project, but I get by.
My Core is headless and is running on an hp proliant ML330 G3. I received this from work, but have seen them on e-bay for <= $300 US.
This has a single Xeon 2.8GHz dual core CPU and 2.5G of Ram. It does the job nicely.
It has an onboard Broadcom Gigabit ethernet, and an additional Broadcom chipped Compaq Ggabit ethernet adapter.
It has 1 100G IDE drive (OS and MD images), that I bought for $40 US
A 80G SATA2 drive (Audio, Photos, Documents as per pluto structure) that I got for free from a friend
A 500G WD SATA2 drive (TV recordings) This was $69.99 OEM from Newegg.
A 500G WD MyBook external USB/SATA2 drive (Videos) $69.99 eCost.32+14+
2 Asus OEM Black DVD Drives (Read only) that were $16 each from newegg.
A Rosewill SATA2/E-SATA card 4 - SATA ports, 2 - E-SATA ports that I got for $14 from Newegg. (Newegg rocks)
My Living Room MD is my primary viewing/listening station
This has just recently been upgraded, and I am sad to say is not running just yet. I purchased a new board and chip combo from Newegg, it cost $114.99 Free Shipping and is an Asus M3A78-EM with and AMD X2 5000+ CPU. I also purchased 2G of ram DDR2 1066 for $32.99 free ship.
It is house in an nMedia HTPC200BA Black HTPC case with a silent nmedia powersupply, this cost $180 for everything from Newegg about 2 years ago. Was previously a knoppmyth box.
It also has 2 Hauppauge PVR150MCE cards in it, that both came with MCE remotes, and USB IR receivers (fully plug and play w/LMCE) and I got them for about $60 each on e-bay.
I do not use the MCE bits here, I use a USB-UIRT $65 Shipped, and a Gyration remote 310US $40 Circuit City (I have 2 of these) so $80.
My Family room MD is a Compaq Evo w/ a 1.8GHz CPU and 512M of ram. $50 Craigslist
It is attached to a Kworld PC to TV converter $55 Newegg
Has one of the MCE remote/receiver combos on it.
These are the only new items in my setup, the rest can be viewed on my user page contained in my signature.
So recently, and the ones that are most used the total is:
$1000 rounded up.
I do not currently do HD, if this were the case the MD specs would probably need to change, but even with the MD's in my girls rooms, I still come in under $1300 dollars, for everything.
This does not include my Insteon automation deployment, but even adding that it would still come in under $1600 US.
The most heavily used MD in the house would be the Evo. And that if you were to buy a MCE remote seperate, only would cost approximately $160 US, so that would come under the $200 price range.
Lets see Fiire do that
I hope you see that this project is worth staying with, and that giving the proper respect to those who make it all work, will definitely allow it to improve your style of life. It has improved mine.
Welcome, and Regards,