I know, I always seem to be in that middle layer that gets ignored by the techies and the dummies.
So I guess it's settled: GPU is where it's at. RAM 4-8GB no problem, cheap either way. CPU, I can probably just get whatever, probably something in the lower middle-class range. So are there particular GPU features worth noting specifically for HD video playback?
Also (pet peeve, and no offense)...how come whenever someone on the internet mentions a codec/extension/container, someone always has to point out that this is a container, not a decoder, etc. It gets pretty annoying. First of all, the whole video file ecosystem is fairly complicated to define. there are dozens of containers and formats and encoding types and all sorts of things, with all sorts of combinations possible. And furthermore, the whole "this is JUST a container" thing is complete nonsense. I ran some tests and let me tell you, there are differences even in the things that are "just" containers. For example, I created a video file from a source, and then made two files: an mkv file and an mp4 file. In both cases, the exact same video content went in the container with no modifications. So the only difference is the container...both contained h264 video. Now, you would expect the video quality to be the same in both, but they weren't. mkv was significantly smoother than mp4, which was a little choppy. So I know everyone gets a kick out of pointing out what is a container and what is a format, but big deal. If you really want to get into it, it's a hairy beast. I keep looking into these things and I keep coming up with the conclusion that mkv files are the best way to go right now.