Anandtech has an interesting overview of building HTPCs using AMD’s dead-end Socket FM1. I think it has interesting implications for anyplace you’re looking for value, not just in HTPC applications.
Yes, it’s a dead end, because Socket FM1 will be going away in favor of Socket FM2 in the coming months. But that’s one reason why there’s value potential here.
Socket FM1 represents a disappointing generation in AMD’s story, but it’s not terrible. It’s not a Core i7, but it’s not priced like a Core i7 either. For $60-$120, you get a CPU with 2-4 cores, running at anywhere from 2.5 to 3 GHz, with integrated graphics that are good enough to satisfy anyone but a 3D gaming enthusiast.
And for around $120, you can get a full ATX motherboard like an Asus F1A75-V Pro with 6-7 slots, 4 memory slots so you can put 16 GB of cheap RAM in it (or 32 GB if you use slightly costlier 8 GB DIMMs), and enough SATA ports that you may have a hard time using them all.
So, if you spent around $320 before adding a case, storage and OS, you’d end up with a 4-core system with 16 GB of RAM that would do an outstanding job at anything but gaming, and would be fine for casual gaming too.
I’m not really in the market right now for new PC equipment, since I built something less than a year ago. But if I was, I’d be very tempted with this option.
But if you’re in the business of running secure Windows-based PCs in sensitive environments–think classified information, whether you’re talking sensitive private sector information, or government–then you want to stay away from any solution that uses AMD video drivers, at least until AMD fixes its drivers so they work with Microsoft EMET.