ML03

If you're looking to build up a system to serve quadruple-duty as a home-theater PC, media streamer, content creation, and light gaming system, all while blending in nicely on an AV console, this is the one! It's the perfect complement to a new 4K TV for streaming content, editing video files, or running through your Steam game library.

For November 2019, this build continues to feature AMD's amazing Ryzen 5 3600 six-core processor, which is by far the best CPU ever released under $200. It's paired up with a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB video card, which is the most powerful low-profile card ever released. See the pattern here? Lots of great gear that makes for a great slim HTPC! The 1050 Ti will hold its own in games, and of course has an HDMI 2.0 output for full 4K/60Hz support, along with a DisplayPort that can drive all ultra-high resolution monitors. Also on board is 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and an ultra-fast 512GB PCIe-based solid-state drive, along with a 2TB hard drive and a Blu-Ray burner. Everything comes together in the shelf-friendly SilverStone ML03 case, which will blend right in with your other AV components. This system even features a fully-modular 550W power supply! Together, these components provide impressive multi-tasking ability and responsiveness, along with excellent HTPC functionality, all in a low-cost, ultra-compact system.

To see previous versions of this build, just flip to the $1,000 HTPC Archive. And take note: this is just one of 11 ultra-compact PC builds we feature in our do-it-yourself PC guides. If this isn't quite what you're looking for, we have a feeling we have another solution that will for for you, so just flip over to our Introduction to Small Form Factor PCs to learn more about the other compact options.

We use Amazon's real-time pricing engine, so prices in this guide are always up-to-date. We also include local Amazon links for our readers in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany, making regional substitutions as necessary. If you decide to purchase any of the products listed below, please use the links provided, which helps support continued development of this guide.

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

  • CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 5 3600

    In the past, HTPCs could get by with just four cores, but you no longer need to make that sacrifice! Step up to AMD's awesome six-core Ryzen 5 3600, which can process a total of 12 threads simultaneously, and offers boost speeds of up to 4.4GHz right out of the box! Find out why we love this CPU so much in our full review!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU includes a fantastic, ultra-quiet 55mm-tall cooler right in the box, which is a perfect fit for this system. You can learn more about it in our recent low-profile cooler shootout!

  • Motherboard:

    MSI B450M PRO-M2 Max

    You get a lot for your money with this B450-based board. It boasts six USB ports, four SATA ports, and an M.2 slot for a solid-state drive. Note that the "Max" series from MSI are the only B450 boards that support the Ryzen 5 3600 out of the box. Please don't substitute other brands, or even other "non-Max" MSI boards.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The video outputs on this board will not be used in this system, as the CPU doesn't have built-in video processing. Instead you'll be using the add-in card below.

    Video Card:

    MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB LP

    This video card is the most powerful video card ever released in the dual-slot, low-profile format required for this build. It is actually quite adept at gaming, but more importantly, has a full-spec HDMI 2.0 port, offering HDCP 2.2 and 4K/60Hz, which allows for proper 4K output to a TV. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that while the motherboard has video outputs, they will not function when paired with a Ryzen 5 processor, so you really do need a video card.

  • Memory:

    Ballistix 2x8GB Sport LT DDR4-3200 CL16

    For this build, we're going with 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM, which will ensure you never run out of memory, while maximizing the performance of the Ryzen platform. The 3200MHz speed of this kit is 50% faster than standard DDR4-2133 kits, despite a price that's just a few dollars more.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To attain this kit's rated speed, remember to select the AMP profile in the motherboard's UEFI BIOS. 

  • 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 512GB, by far the best drive at its pricepoint! It features TLC NAND and the ultra-fast PCIe interface, allowing it to blow past similarly-priced SATA drives!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This drive will fit right into the M.2 slot on the motherboard we recommend, and to make installation easy, you'll want a jeweler's-type screwdriver.

  • Hard Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 2TB

    If you have a large media storage, you'll want a high-capacity hard drive, and we recommend the latest version of WD's Blue 2TB 5400RPM 3.5" drive. It's quiet and reliable - 2TB 7200RPM drives may be nominally faster, but they'll also be a lot louder, which is a bad trade-off for a media drive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Need more space? No problem - this drive comes in capacities as high as 6TB!

    Case:

    Silverstone ML03B

    Silverstone has done some serious engineering work here, and there's simply nothing else like it on the market today. Despite its compact dimensions, the ML03 can fit plenty of gear (including two 3.5" drives), and fits right in with AV components.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model uses a micro-ATX format to stay small, while providing plenty of expansion opportunity.

    Power Supply:

    EVGA 550 B3

    Boasting Bronze-rated efficiency and fully-modular cables to keep clutter at bay, this PSU is a dream come true for HTPC users. It has more than enough power at 550W, while also being ultra-high quality and virtually silent.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model has an "Eco" mode that shuts off the fan when operating at idle, dramatically reducing noise.

  • Optical Drive:

    LG 14x Blu-Ray Burner

    Tap into your catalog of DVD and Blu-Ray discs with this Blu-Ray burner, which can read CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays, and can write to all of them as well. Many Blu-Ray drives are technically "combo" drives, which ironically means they do less; they can read Blu-Rays, but cannot write to them.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To play commercial movies, you'll need licensed software, and we recommend Cyberlink PowerDVD 19 Ultra.

  • Wireless Card:

    TP-LINK Archer T6E AC1300

    Add high-speed 802.11ac networking to your build with this great, low-cost PCIe card.

    The Guru's Tip:

    If you have a wired connection near your AV system, you can skip this WiFi card.

  • Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Win 10 is by far the best OS Microsoft has ever produced, and it's updated ever Spring and Fall with major new feature releases and security enhancements.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This USB 3.0 version of W10 loads in under 5 minutes!

Optional Components

  • The Home Theater Keyboard/Trackpad Combo:

    Logitech K830 Illuminated Wireless Keyboard

    Want total control of your HTPC from the comfort of your couch? Look no further than the K830 keyboard with integrated trackpad!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This keyboard even has a built-in backlight, perfect for darkened media rooms!