While there has been a lot of focus on the Intel Core 2 range, we can't forget AMD. After all, it's AMD who has kept Intel honest by keeping prices as low as possible. Unfortunately, though, the jolly green giant has taken one blow after another with its CPUs of late; AMD held on too long to the K8 architecture, trying to squeeze every last drop out of it, and Phenom's late arrival and poor clock speeds/performance per MHz compared to the Intel counterparts has caused them some grief as well. On the upside, it has made building a multi-core and even Quad Core CPU system affordable; AMD's top Phenom X4 only costs around $360 AUD.
To mate up with this option, AMD has a range of chipsets available for its Phenom processor, these including the 780G chipset; the first of the 7 series to come out from AMD, and by far one of the most powerful integrated chipsets available today.
ASRock has been one of the loyal followers for AMD and has produced some rather impressive boards for its low budget status. The company has come up with a new 780G chipset oriented board designed for the HTPC and Digital PC environment.