If you’re ready to set out on the task of building your own HTPC, here are the components you’ll need to build the best system you can get for your money.
These example HTPC builds are the best bang for the bucks, most loved configurations – based on my own tests and feedback from thousands of people in the My Media Experience community who have already successfully built these reference systems.
I have designed these reference builds to fit your use cases and different budgets.
So, if you are not sure whether the components will fit and work perfectly together, I would recommend to check out these reference HTPC builds that I have tested myself.
Starter HTPC is the most affordable and smallest build which features the Raspberry Pi 3 board. Raspberry Pi 3 has developed and matured a lot as a media center during the past year and can be now used as a light-weight home theater computer at less than $100.
This system is powered by ARM CPU running at 700Mhz, and a Videocore 4 GPU. The GPU is capable of Blu-ray quality playback, using H.264 at 40MBits/s. You can also play MPEG-2 and VC1 video files, but you need to buy a separate license from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
This is a sub-$200 Android TV-powered streaming media player that is ideal for people who have a desire to customize and tweak it to make it run like a HTPC.
For a media only budget HTPC, I would recommend the NVIDIA SHIELD TV, which has replaced my previous custom budget HTPC build.
At this price point, I can’t build a custom budget HTPC that is as versatile and powerful as the NVIDIA SHIELD TV.
NVIDIA SHIELD TV does everything I wanted a budget HTPC to do, and it’s much smaller.
Please note that SHIELD TV is a bit too underpowered to act as a media server for more demanding users. If you are looking for a media server that will also transcode your files and serve multiple users, I would recommend having a look at my Value HTPC or Performance HTPC build.
If you want to add more peripherals inside the case and use your HTPC as a true all-in-one system, then this Value HTPC build might be the right choice.
The benefit of using a larger micro-ATX or ATX case in this build is that you can add more hard drives, sound card or TV tuners inside the case while still being able to achieve quiet operation.
I use this Value HTPC as a media server for example to record and stream live TV.
This performance HTPC is ideal if you want to build your own Steam Machine to play games while using it as a complete media center solution.
The case I’m using in this build allows you to use full size gaming graphics card inside a small size case.
Building a quiet gaming HTPC is a bit more difficult that building a light-weight HTPC. You will need to find a careful balance between CPU, graphics card and power supply selection.
You will also need to spend some time in seeking for optimal amount of fans and set the correct fan speeds to keep the system temperature on correct level.
For this reason, I would recommend building a compact gaming HTPC only for more experienced PC builders or for those who are willing to spend the needed time to find the optimal balance.
I have spent thousands of dollars to find a good balance for component selection, so this gaming HTPC is a good starting point when you are looking for components for your gaming HTPC
I use this HTPC system in my living room so that my family can enjoy playing games in the living room as well.