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The Couch Potato Mk. 2 Alternatives

Our main Couch Potato Mk. 2 configuration is fairly complete, but we have a few alternative recommendations for users who may have slightly different desires.

Component Item Price
Graphics Palit GeForce 9600 GT Sonic $179.99
Western Digital Caviar GP 750GB $129.99
Western Digital Caviar GP 750GB $129.99
Sound Asus Xonar D2 $169.99

Graphics card
The 780G's integrated Radeon HD 3200 is good enough for light gaming and high-definition video decoding. However, if you intend to do more serious gaming on this PC, Palit's GeForce 9600 GT Sonic will serve you better. This card is admittedly quite expensive as far as GeForce 9600 GTs go, but it has a quiet dual-slot cooler, an HDMI port, and an external optical S/PDIF input for digital audio pass-through. Palit has "factory overclocked" this particular model quite extensively, so it should perform better than a regular 9600 GT.

Like with the Sweet Spot alternatives, we're recommending two hard drives instead of one here. Digital video content takes up a lot of space, but the 1.5TB of storage capacity provided by a pair of 750GB Western Digital Caviar GPs should help ensure you don't run out.

The Asus Xonar D2 makes a comeback in our alternatives list here, mainly because we don't have enough spare PCI Express slots for the less expensive DX model. Our recommended motherboard's integrated audio should be adequate if you're hooking into a receiver over a digital S/PDIF connection, but if you're running analog, the Xonar will deliver much better sound quality than the motherboard.