Those cases are literally 3-4 times the size of the Mac Mini, Schumi.
In fact, if you have a XBox 360 controller, the Mac Mini is just about as tall, and only about 20% larger. It's that small.
But if size isn't that big a factor, then you are right in that one can put together nicer components.
Here's the best I can put together for a lower price... but obviously Bluetooth and WIFI are lacking. Nothing you can't layer another $50 on top to fix, though.
Intel Core i3 2120T 2.6GHz (35W) $134.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819115094
Kingston 4GB DDR3 1600 $24.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820139659
ASUS P8H61-I $79.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131727
Rosewill RS-MI-01 $49.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811147131
Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB 7200rpm $79.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822152181
Sapphire Radeon HD 6570 $59.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814102934
That's $430 with a case that's only about 2.5x larger than the Mac Mini, which is acceptable in my opinions.
However, it won't beat Mac Mini in power consumption. Mac Mini under max load will go up to only about 30W or so. The machine I put together can easily hit 2-3 times that amount, and obviously it won't be as quiet since space is extremely constricted.
And if web browsing is a high priority, then Mac OSX Lion with Safari would be quite the handy combo. I wouldn't say it's better than Windows, but for a screen you sit so far away, it's definitely more convenient.
Oh, also. The Mac Mini doesn't come with keyboard or mouse or HDMI cable, so you'll have to pony up an extra $100 or so to get all of those from Apple.
Last edited by runawayprisoner; April 14th, 2012 at 18:56..