Best high-end HTPC Build

If you want to build the most powerful home theater PC (HTPC) on the planet, this is the system for you! This system may be sleek and compact, but it packs in plenty of impressive gear. It features a stylish design that will blend in perfectly with the rest of your AV gear, great for keeping other members of your household happy. But behind that unimposing facade lurks the power of a seriously tricked-out PC!

For December 2019, we've consolidated several of our HTPC builds to get the very best value and performance for the price. This system features the awesome AMD Ryzen 5 3600 six-core CPU, which offers six next-gen Zen 2 cores and a total of 12 threads, translating to fantastic processing power. It will easily beat last-gen 8-core CPUs, while using a whole lot less power. We also recommend a new B450-based motherboard specifically updated for the latest Ryzen processors. On graphics duty, we go with the new GeForce GTX 1650 Super 4GB video card, which improves upon the original GTX 1650 by nearly doubling memory bandwidth at the same pricepoint. It's a perfect pick to output to a 4K TV. It's also great for gaming at 1080p, or accelerating media encoding, should you be doing that on your HTPC. In terms of RAM, we recommend a full 16GB, which will provide plenty of breathing room for any high-end task, including video production, and thanks to those big price cuts we mentioned, high-speed DDR4 RAM fits in the budget.

On the storage side, the system goes with a 512GB PCIe-based solid-state drive, which will provide breathtaking operating system and application responsiveness. It's paired with a 2TB hard drive for media storage, plus a Blu-Ray burner for optical media access. Need more space? No problem - you can always add up to three high capacity hard drives for media storage. The PC is powered by a silent Gold-rated 550W power supply and runs in the stylish SilverStone GD09 case, the most compact ATX chassis on the market. Simply put, this is a dream high-end HTPC at an affordable price! By the way, this system has plenty of expansion potential, so be sure to check out the optional components we recommend at the end of this guide!

To have a look back at previous versions of this build, check out The Archive. And for extra help getting up to speed on what it's like working with AMD's Ryzen platform, definitely check out our hands-on Ryzen Assembly Guide.

The $1,000 High-End Home Theater PC - December 2019

  • CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 5 3600

    For a high-end HTPC, you want extreme processing power, and there's no better chip to give you that than AMD's new Ryzen 5 3600. With six ultra-high-speed Zen 2 cores and twelve total threads that boost to 3.9GHz in multi-threaded tasks and even faster in lightly-threaded tasks, it can cut through the toughest of home theater tasks. All that and it's still incredibly efficient, pulling under 65W. Learn more about this awesome CPU in our full review!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU includes a great cooler, so good in fact that you simply do not need to upgrade. Learn exactly how quiet it is in our recent low-profile CPU cooler shootout!

  • Motherboard:

    MSI B450 Tomahawk Max

    This board provides tons of functionality at a great price. It has six USB ports (including a Type-C port), five PCIe expansion slots, an M.2 SSD slot, and six SATA ports.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that MSI's "MAX" lineup of B450 boards are the only B450 guaranteed to boot up a Ryzen 5 3000-series processor. Use any other B450 board and you're more than likely going to have old firmware on board that won't boot!

  • Video Card:

    MSI GeForce GTX 1650 Super Ventus XS OC 4GB

    HTPC enthusiasts looking for the holy grail of 4K output, nearly-silent operation, and serious gaming performance need look no further than the new GTX 1650 Super. It will run cool and quiet, while easily driving any gaming title to a 1080p resolution at maximum settings, thanks to its "super-fied" memory subsystem, which offers nearly double the bandwidth of the original 1650 at the same pricepoint! And of course this card's HDMI 2.0b port will output 4:4:4/60Hz/4K video perfectly!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Take note: this is one of the very few standard-height 1660 Super models available; most will not fit in this system!

  • Memory:

    Ballistix 2x8GB Sport LT DDR4-3200 CL16

    This 16GB kit will allow your Ryzen processor to achieve maximum performance, thanks to its high speed DDR4-3200 rating. It also offers unbeatable compatibility thanks to its single-rank design, which is easier to drive at high speeds than dual-rank kits.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To get this to run at its rated speed, enable the AMP profile in the motherboard's UEFI interface.

  • Solid-State Drive:

    Sabrent 512GB Rocket NVMe

    A massive price war in the SSD market is leading to better values every month, and the latest star is the Sabrent Rocket, by far the best drive at its pricepoint! It features TLC NAND and the ultra-fast PCIe interface, allowing it to blow past more expensive SATA drives!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Just note that you'll need a jeweler's type screwdriver to secure this drive to the motherboard.

  • Hard Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 2TB

    For bulk media storage, we recommend you start off with WD's Blue 2TB drive. Quiet, affordable, and very reliable, it's the perfect hard drive for a home theater build.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Need more space? Just jump up to WD's 4TB drive, which offers even better value! This system can actually hold three 3.5" hard drives, meaning your total storage capacity is nearly limitless, with NAS-focused models now available in sizes up to 14TB!

  • Case:

    SilverStone GD09 ATX Case

    This case is truly one-of-a-kind. It's the smallest ATX model on the market, allowing you to use powerful video cards or other expansion cards, plus up to two 3.5" hard drives and an optical drive. For cooling, it includes one pre-installed 120mm low-noise fan, with room for one more. And to add a touch of class, it has an aluminum front panel.

    The Guru's Tip:

    At just under 27 liters, the GD09 is by far the smallest ATX case on the market. Learn more about this study in compact design in our full review.

  • Power Supply:

    Silverstone ET550-HG Gold

    Measuring just 150mm deep, this ultra-compact power supply will easily fit in the case we recommend, while providing virtually silent operation thanks to its excellent Gold-rated efficiency.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While you don't need 550W for this build, it's impossible to find a Gold-rated unit with a lower wattage.

  • Optical Drive:

    LG 14x Blu-Ray Burner

    If you want access to both DVD and Blu-Ray physical media, you can't go wrong adding this well-priced Blu-Ray burner from LG.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To watch Blu-Ray movies, you'll actually need dedicated playback software. We recommend Cyberlink's PowerDVD 19 Ultra.

  • Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Win 10 is a great OS that keeps getting better, as Microsoft releases a major update every Fall and Spring to add features and security.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This USB 3.0 version of W10 will install in under 5 minutes!

Optional Components

  • Wireless Card:

    TP-LINK Archer T6E AC1300

    Need wireless? Get this 802.11ac wireless card and you'll be all set!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We like this card a lot more than adapters that plug into USB ports.

  • The Home Theater Keyboard/Trackpad Combo:

    Logitech K830 Illuminated Wireless Keyboard

    If you'll be using your PC from the couch, you definitely need to invest in a wireless input device, and there's no better option than Logitech's K830 keyboard with integrated trackpad! Featuring professional styling and functional backlighting, it looks as great as it works.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Logitech has proven time and time again that it makes the best wireless peripherals on the market, bar none!

  • Sound Card:

    Creative Sound Blaster AE-7

    If you're serious about audio production and playback, you'll want an add-in sound card. The AE-7 from Sound Blaster features an astounding 127db signal-to-noise ratio, an ESS SABRE-class 9018 DAC,along with an Audio Control Module (ACM) that incorporates a built-in microphone array and mic/headphone I/O connections, plus a control know to adjust the headphone levels.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You also get a digital audio output on this card.

  • DVR:

    Hauppauge Colossus 2 PCIe 1080p HD-PVR

    Add true DVR capabilities to your HTPC with the Colossus 2, which will record content from cable TV, DVR or a satellite TV box.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that HDCP-protected content, like that from a modern cable box, will not work with this card unless you use an HDCP splitter to decode it.