GD09

If you want the most powerful home theater PC 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 November 2017, this build sticks with the powerful AMD Ryzen 5 1600 six-core CPU, which is incredibly efficient, despite offering the ability to process 12 threads simultaneously, making it ideal for any video task, including streaming or video conversion. And it's more than fast enough for just about any mainstream gaming scenario, working in tandem with this system's potent GeForce GTX 1050 video card, which also happens to feature the HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 connector you need for proper 4K video output (critical for any true HTPC). In terms of RAM, we've again needed to make changes this month to adjust for rapidly-increasing RAM prices, resulting from a severe chip shortage that is only projected to get worse. We now recommend 16GB of DDR4-2666, as it comes in at the best pricepoint possible. On storage duty, we go with the brand-new Western Digital Blue 3D 250GB solid-state drive for the OS, along with the high-capacity WD Blue 3TB hard drive for media storage. Backed up by a new ultra-compact Gold-rated 550W power supply and installed in the stylish but moderately-priced SilverStone GD09 chassis, this is truly a dream HTPC! At the end of this guide, we recommend a few optional components to enhance your build, including a drop-in sound card for serious audiophiles, along with our favorite HTPC keyboard.

To learn how to build up a system in the SilverStone GD09 case we're recommending, simply check out our in-depth review! And for extra help getting up to speed on what it's like working with AMD's Ryzen platform, check out our hands-on Assembly Guide. If you still have questions after reviewing this guide, stop by our Reader Forum. To see what this system can do when pushed to the limits, check out the insane reader build in The TBG Gallery using our recommended case along with high-end liquid cooling! To have a look back at previous versions of this build, check out The Archive.

The $1,100 High-End Home Theater PC - November 2017

    CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 5 1600

    For a high-end HTPC, you want extreme processing power, and there's no better chip on the market to give you that at a great price than AMD's Ryzen 5 1600. With six cores and twelve threads pumping away at every task, there's no challenge too great for this efficient CPU. It can even be overclocked by about 20% if you really need to push the limits! This CPU includes a great cooler right in the box, but if you want an acoustic upgrade, the Noctua NH-L9x65 AM4 edition is your best bet for this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that while Intel has announced a number of new CPUs to compete with AMD's Ryzen, none are actually available for purchase, as Intel chose to "paper launch" them in early October without actual supply.

    Motherboard:

    Gigabyte GA-AB350-Gaming 3 AM4

    This board provides tons of functionality at a low price. It has seven USB ports, ultra-high-end Realtek ALC1220 audio (perfect for an HTPC!), a great assortment of expansion slots, and an M.2 SSD slot, which you'll be using for this build's solid-state drive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the DVI and HDMI outputs on this board will not be functional when used with a Ryzen processor, so make sure to add the video card we recommend below (and attach your monitor or TV to it, not the motherboard!).

    Video Card:

    Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050 2GB

    HTPC enthusiasts looking for the holy grail of HDMI 2.0, 1080p gaming capability, and nearly-silent operation need look no further than this GTX 1050 model. Due to its efficiency, it's able to run in passive mode under almost all loads, and even when the fans spin up, they are very quiet. And of course, its HDMI 2.0b port will output 4:4:4/60Hz/4K video perfectly!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Remember, AMD's Ryzen CPU does not have built-in graphics (the motherboard's ports are non-functional), so you really do need to add a separate video card to run this system!

    Memory:

    Ballistix 2x8GB Sport LT DDR4-2666

    With AMD's AM4 platfrom, you have to pay close attention to the RAM you use to ensure compatibility. That's why we recommend this kit, which will have no trouble running on the motherboard we've selected for this build. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that RAM prices have jumped dramatically in the past few months due to an accelerating memory chip shortage, and we're therefore updating the kit selection regularly to respond to price hikes and product shortages.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 3D 250GB M.2

    This brand-new 250GB SSD from Western Digital hits the sweet spot in terms of price, capacity, and performance. Featuring WD's new 3D TLC NAND, it offers performance at the top of the SATA drive market, yet undercuts nearly every SATA drive in price. And since it uses the M.2 form factor, it slots right into the motherboard, requiring no cables or brackets. It's the perfect match for a compact, high-performance system.

    The Guru's Tip:

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

    Hard Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 3TB

    To store all your media, we suggest the well-regarded WD Blue 3TB hard drive, which offers exceptional capacity per dollar and unmatched reliability. With its 5400RPM rotational speed, it offers the ideal blend of speed and low-noise operation, perfect for a media center PC.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Fun fact: a few years back, WD marketed these drives under the "Green" label, which indicated "efficiency." Well, now it's grouped all its low-noise drives under the Blue label, and the Green label has been discontinued.

    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 full-featured, full-sized motherboards, video cards, and power supplies, yet taking up less space than the average micro ATX case. Learn much more about this great case, including tips on how to build it up, in our hands-on review!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This case comes with a single quiet 120mm fan, although you always have the option to add two more if you so choose. We recommend the Arctic F12 PWM.

    Power Supply:

    Seasonic SSR-550FX

    Measuring just 140mm deep, this ultra-compact power supply will easily fit in the case we recommend, while providing virtually silent operation thanks to its zero-RPM fan mode and ultra-high Gold-rated efficiency.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model is even backed by an unmatched 10-year warranty!

    Optical Drive:

    LG 14x Blu-Ray Burner

    If you want access to 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 to add software support. We recommend Cyberlink's PowerDVD 17 Ultra.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Win 10 is better than Windows 8.1 in every conceivable way. Thank goodness Microsoft listened to critics and came up with an OS that's actually easy to use!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Due to the discontinuation of the DVD version of Windows, we now recommend the superior USB flash drive version to all builders. It installs in just a few minutes!

Optional Components

    Sound Card (Optional):

    Creative Sound Blaster Zx (Opt.)

    If you're serious about audio production and playback, you'll want an add-in soudn card. The Zx from Sound Blaster features a 116db signal-to-noise ratio, 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 digital audio connections on this card (both input and output!).

    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!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This keyboard is even illuminated, perfect for use in a darkened media room!