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Buying a quality performance multi-media system can be affordable and not leave you in debt for years. A good multi-media system does not have to have high-end versions of every possible component. If you have a lower budget start with the mid-tier and upgrade as you can afford it.
You will want to start with mid-tier graphics and sound cards, 4GB of RAM and a dual core processor around 2.5 GHz. A 19 or 22-inch screen should be sufficient. Of course, you can go higher in any of these areas if you want, but it is not required to build a good desktop computer. If you want to add a Blu-ray drive for high definition and a slightly better graphics card for some gaming, that will move the price up a bit more.
You could add a TV tuner card and still come in under $1,500. These specs will give you a solid performing media machine that can be upgraded down the road. Add some good software and you'll have everything needed for photo and video editing, music, gaming and cinematic movie experiences.