best small office pc build

Want to build the best small office or home theater (HTPC) PC possible for $750? Then this is the guide for you! It will list all the components you need to build an ultra-capable, ultra-compact PC perfect for either small office or home theater PC use. Whether you need a powerful, slim system to drive your high-resolution display, or you want a PC capable of streaming to your 4K UHD TV, this system is the one for you!

For January 2020, the $750 Small Office/Home Theater PC Build continues to designed around our personal favorite slim case, the SilverStone ML09. We believe that an inexpensive office PC or HTPC should be quiet, capable, and most importantly, compact. Put another way, it's time to say "honey, I shrunk the PC!" Trust us - this is going to be a win not just for you, but for everyone else in your household! But this PC isn't just small, it's also extraordinarily powerful for its size and a fantastic bargain. It starts with AMD's awesome Ryzen 5 3400G, it's latest four-core, eight-thread powerhouse, which can boost up to an incredible 4.2GHz. It has built-in RX Vega 11 graphics, which is vastly superior to anything available from Intel CPUs, and is on par with a stand-alone $100 GPU. Paired with an advanced B450-based motherboard, it will output 4K/60Hz deep-color video via HDMI 2.0, which you need to properly drive a 4K UHD TV or ultra-wide monitors. And thanks to recent price drops, we also recommend equipping this system with 16GB of ultra-fast DDR4 RAM and a blazing-fast 1TB PCIe-based solid-state drive. And if you need even more capacity, don't worry: this system can fit a Blu-Ray drive and up to four 2TB hard drives, bringing the total capacity to a whopping 9TB including the SSD!

With all of that said, we know there a lot of HTPC users out there who still want to use add-in graphics cards for gaming, video capture cards for media, and a rack of large hard drives for storage. For all those folks, we have our much larger $1,000 High-End HTPC Buyer's Guide, which is based on the SilverStone GD09 case, shown below. It uses a micro-ATX motherboard and provides space for up to three 3.5" hard drives and plenty of full-size expansion cards, all without approaching the size of typical ATX cases!

best home theater pc build

To see previous versions of the $750 Small Office/Home Theater PC Build, simply flip to the Home Theater PC Build Archive. By the way, any HTPC needs a good set of peripherals to get the most out of it, so definitely scroll down to the end of this guide to see our favorite accessories.

Throughout this guide, we provide direct Amazon links for our readers in the US, UK, Canada, and Germany, making regional substitutions as necessary, and our US links also auto-convert for readers in Spain, Italy, and France.. 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 $750 Small Office / Home Theater PC Build - January 2020

  • CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 5 3400G

    The Ryzen 5 3400G APU is by far the best solution for a budget-friendly home theater PC. It has four cores and 8 total processing threads, runs at 3.7GHz with boost to 4.2GHz, and being an "APU" rather than a CPU, includes the powerful RX Vega 11 graphics chip for true gaming and video decompression capability. The Vega 11 is actually equivalent to a $100 GPU on its own!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This APU's included 55mm-tall Wraith Stealth cooler is excellent - just note that due to its height, it requires the removal of the case's pre-installed intake fan.

  • Motherboard:

    Gigabyte B450 I Aorus Pro WiFi

    You get a lot for your money with this B450-based mini-ITX board. It boasts built-in 802.11ac 5GHz networking, Bluetooth, six USB ports, high-end audio, and an M.2 slot for a solid-state drive. The best part of this board is that it includes an HDMI 2.0 port, allowing for true 4K/60Hz output.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that while this board was released prior to the launch of the Ryzen 5 3400G in July of 2019, and originally did not have the updated firmware required to boot the new CPU, we believe that turnover of this popular board is high enough that current retail stock now ships with the proper firmware.

  • Memory:

    Corsair Vengeance LPX 2x8GB DDR4-3200

    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. Note that we always recommend the use of "single rank" memory with the Ryzen platform for greater compatibility, and Ballistix is one of the few makers of such memory.

    The Guru's Tip:

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

  • Solid-State Drive:

    Sabrent 1TB Rocket NVMe

    A massive price war in the SSD market is leading to better values every month, and the latest star is the Rocket from Sabrent, 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.

  • Case:

    SilverStone ML09B

    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:

    Note that you'll need to remove the included 120mm fan from this case to fit the CPU cooler. The case has just 47mm of CPU cooler clearance when using either an optical drive or slim fan, and 70mm with nothing above To get more tips on how to build it up, check out our hands-on review.

  • Power Supply:

    SilverStone ST30SF

    This ultra-compact, Bronze-rated SFX PSU is a perfect fit for this build, offering just the right amount of output for an efficient build like this one. And this particular model has a unique feature: the zero-fan mode means it's silent at low loads!

    The Guru's Tip:

    SilverStone actually recommends fixed cables, rather than removable cables for the ML09 case, as the single cable output is easier to route around the case's 2.5" drive cage.

  • 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

  • Hard Drive:

    WD Blue WD20SPZX 2TB 2.5"

    If you have a large media collection, you'll want a high-capacity hard drive, and we recommend the latest version of WD's Blue 2TB 5400RPM drive. It's quiet and reliable. You can add up to four of these drives to this system, for a total of 8TB of storage!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Given that a lot of HTPC users are switching to streaming content, we no longer view a large hard drive as mandatory, especially in a lower-cost HTPC like this one.

  • CPU Cooler:

    Noctua NH-L9a-AM4

    While the AMD processor used in this build includes a very good 55mm cooler, this slimmer 37mm cooler is required if you want to use the case's included 120mm fan or the optional Blu-Ray burner listed below.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Learn more about this great cooler in our full hands-on review.

  • Optical Drive:

    OSGEAR Internal Slim Blu-Ray Burner

    Tap into your catalog of DVD and Blu-Ray discs with this slimline Blu-Ray burner, which can read CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays, and can write to all of them as well. Note that to use this drive in the slim case we recommend, you have to add two additional components, the adapter listed below, as well as the slim Noctua cooler we recommended earlier in this guide. The stock AMD cooler will not provide sufficient clearance to mount a disc drive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    To play commercial movies, you'll need licensed software, and we recommend Cyberlink PowerDVD 18 Ultra.

  • Cable:

    Startech Slim-Line SATA Adapter

    To connect the Blu-Ray drive, or any slim optical drive, you'll need this adapter, which converts the drive's laptop-style power connector for use with a desktop-class power supply.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We've also tried Startech's all-in-one adapter, but find that it can cause clearance problems.

  • The Home Theater Keyboard/Trackpad Combo:

    Logitech K600 TV Keyboard

    Want a great HTPC keyboard to go with your new PC? Then go for Logitech's K600. It has two modes of navigation (touchpad and joystick), and uses Logitech's proven wireless connection system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model even works with Smart TVs and phones, making it a universal input device!