ML03

If you're looking to build up a system to serve triple-duty as a home-theater PC, media streamer, and content creation system, while blending in nicely on an AV console, this is the one! It's equally at home hooked up to your 4K TV for streaming content, editing video files, or being used as an office PC on your desk. And what we really like about it is that it looks good enough to show off, rather than hide in a corner like most PCs! 

For July 2019, this build is better than ever, thanks to price drops on CPUs, RAM, and solid-state drives. The build starts with the ultra-efficient, ultra-powerful AMD Ryzen 5 2600 six-core CPU with 12 processing threads. It's the perfect fit for this home theater-focused system. The CPU is paired with a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB video card that includes a proper HDMI 2.0 output for full 4K/60Hz support, along with more than enough power to handle most games at moderate details. Also on board is 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a fast 500GB 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. 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 Mini Home Theater PC - July 2019

    CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 5 2600

    For this system, you could probably scrape by with a quad-core processor, but why should you? Step up to AMD's awesome six-core Ryzen 5 2600, which can process a total of 12 threads simultaneously, while also offering huge overclocking headroom.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This CPU includes a 55mm-tall cooler in the box, but it's a bit loud and blocks the optical drive bay. We suggest a smaller, quieter cooler later in this guide that allows the use of optical drives.

    Motherboard:

    Gigabyte B450 AORUS M

    You get a lot for your money with this B450-based board. It boasts eiight USB ports, high-end audio, and an M.2 slot for a solid-state drive.

    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:

    Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050 Ti OC LP 4GB

    This dual-slot, low-profile video card is the largest card that will fit in this system, and will max out your video processing capabilities. In addition to offering the full HDMI 2.0 spec, including HDCP 2.2 and 4K/60Hz, its 4GB of VRAM and can easily drive most modern games at 1080p.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This is the fastest low-profile GPU ever released!

    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 dollas 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:

    Crucial P1 500GB NVMe

    Given how quickly solid-state drive prices have dropped recently, you can now get a fast PCIe-based M.2 drive for not much more than a hard drive! The 500GB version of the Crucial P1 will get your OS and apps running smoothly at a cost per gigabyte that's truly amazing.

    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.

    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 ML09 can fit a mini-ITX motherboard, a low-profile dual-slot video card, four 2.5" drives, and an SFX power supply.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The ML09 can technically fit a slim optical drive, but not with the stock AMD CPU cooler, which is why we recommend a slimmer cooler in this guide. Also note that you'll need to remove the included 120mm fan from this case to make everything fit. To get more tips on how to build it up, check out our hands-on review.

    Power Supply:

    Seasonic SSR-450FM

    Boasting Gold-rated efficiency and semi-modular cables, this PSU is a dream come true for HTPC users. It has more than enough power at 450W, while also being ultra-high quality. That means you don't have to pay for capacity you don't need.

    The Guru's Tip:

    It took years to get a Gold-rated, modular PSU in a capacity right for an HTPC.

    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 18 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

    CPU Cooler:

    Noctua NH-L12S

    While the AMD processor includes a cooler, for the ultimate in quiet computing, go for the best slimline cooler ever released, Noctua's NH-L12S!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Learn more about this great cooler in our full shootout review.

    TV Tuner (Optional):

    Hauppauge WinTV-quadHD PCI Express TV Tuner Card 1609 (Opt.)

    Add live TV video capture capability with this handy drop-in card.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This half-height card will slip right into the this system's remaining PCIe slot.

    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!