In-Win

Want to build a sleek 4K-capable home theater PC (HTPC) that will look as good as the 4K UHD TV it's driving? No problem - this guide will set you up with the perfect ultra-quiet, ultra-capabale, and ultra-modern HTPC! 

For May 2019, we've fundamentally rethought what it means to build a home theater PC for a modern media center. With so much media now coming via streaming sources, we think it's time to say "honey, I shrunk the HTPC!" Trust us when we say this is going to be not just a win for you, but for everyone else in your household! And thanks to falling prices on every category of PC component, this PC isn't just extraordinarily powerful for its size, it's also a fantastic bargain. It starts with AMD's awesome the Ryzen 5 2400G, a quad-core, eight-thread powerhouse that can boost up to 3.9GHz. 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 from Asus, it will output the 4K/60Hz deep-color video via HDMI 2.0 that you need to properly drive a 4K UHD TV. Also on the build list is 16GB of DDR4-2666 memory and a big, fast 1TB solid-state drive, which provides plenty of storage, but more importantly speed. Remember, the days of massive media collections are behind us, so we think 1TB is plenty, but if you need more space, you can fit up to two 2TB hard drives in this system, bringing the total capacity to a whopping 5TB. And the best part of this system is without a doubt its aluminum-clad In-Win Chopin case, a 3.3-liter wonder that looks so good you'll want to show it off right next to your PC, rather than hide it in your AV rack. Combined with the premium Noctua cooler we recommend, this system will be both ultra-efficient and ultra-silent. Simply put, it's the best of modern computing. 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 multifunction accessories, including wireless keyboards and universal remotes.

gd09

To see previous versions of this build, simply flip to the Home Theater PC Archive. Note that users who want to fill their HTPC with a lot of gear should check out our $1,250 High-End HTPC Buyer's Guide, which uses the SilverStone GD09 case, shown here. This awesome case allows you to use full-size ATX components without even approaching the size of typical ATX cases.

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 (UK), Canada, and Deutschland (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 $750 Home Theater PC - May 2019

    CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 5 2400G

    The Ryzen 5 2400G 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 3.6GHz with boost to 3.9GHz, 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 55mm-tall Wraith Stealth cooler is very good, but it's too large for this tiny HTPC, so make sure you pick up the Noctua cooler listed later in this guide.

    Motherboard:

    Asus ROG Strix B450-I

    This B450-based ITX board packs in a ton of features despite its small size. It has 6 USB ports, an Intel Ethernet jack, high-end audio, and dual M.2 solid-state drive slots. But most importantly, it includes a integrated HDMI 2.0 slot capable of driving 4K/60Hz monitors and TVs with full color depth via the Ryzen processor's built-in graphics.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You may wonder why this board costs more than other B450-based ITX boards. It's built-in HDMI 2.0 port, a critical feature for an HTPC, alone justifies its extra cost, but it also offers the best built-in WiFi in the business. Other ITX boards just aren't suitable for serious HTPC use.

    Memory:

    Ballistix 2x8GB Sport LT DDR4-2666 SR

    This 16GB kit is more than sufficient for any home theater use, and we go for the DDR4-2666 memory that will allow the Ryzen APU's CPU and built-in video chip to really shine.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While 8GB of RAM is sufficient for most common tasks, with prices plummenting on RAM and given that this system only has two RAM slots, we think you should invest in 16GB to be future-proof.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Western Digital Blue 3D 1TB M.2

    We transitioned this system to an SSD for the main OS drive years ago, but had typically gone with lower-capacity SSDs due to cost. Now, with prices plummeting on higher-end SSDs, we recommend nothing less than a 1TB drive in this build. Being M.2 form factor, it slots right into the motherboard, saving space and reducing cable clutter.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you'll need a jeweler's-type screwdriver to affix this drive, as standard Philips #2 screwdrivers are too big.

    Case:

    InWin Chopin with 150W Power Supply

    At just 3.3" wide and about 9" square, this tiny mini-ITX case is the ideal enclosure for an ultra-modern home theater PC. And thanks to its brushed aluminum, it looks the part too, good enough to sit right next to an ultra-slim 4K TV. In terms of features, the case has two USB 3.0 ports and includes a quiet, efficient 150W power supply.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Due to its tiny size, this case can't use standard CPU coolers, so we recommend a low-profile model below. Also note that it doesn't provide space to use the motherboard's PCIe slot. If you'd like to build a system compatible with add-in cards, check out our $1,000 Slim HTPC or $1,250 High-End HTPC Buyer's Guide.

    CPU Cooler:

    Noctua NH-L9a-AM4

    While the CPU comes with a cooler, it won't fit in this build's ultra-compact case. So we recommend you not only get something smaller, you get something far better: Noctua's ultra-silent NH-L9a. Designed exclusively for AMD's AM4 socket, this 37mm-tall cooler will fit like a glove in this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Noctua also sells a version of this cooler for Intel CPUs, but it is not compatible with AMD models even with an adapater, so make sure not to pick up the wrong one!

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Windows 10 is a huge improvement over Windows 8 and every OS that came before it. The most obvious change for most users will be the return of a functioning Start Menu, which Microsoft broke in Win8 despite it working just fine in Win7, but there a huge number of other changes to usability and functionality that any user will appreciate. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    The USB 3.0 version of Windows literally installs in under 5 minutes!

Optional Components

    Memory:

    WD Blue WD20SPZX 2TB 2.5"

    If you'll be storing a lot of media, you're going to need a hard drive. Western Digital's 2TB Blue drive has a well-earned reputation for offering a great blend of speed, quiet operation, and reliability. The best part is that it's now at its lowest price ever!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Remember, this system only fits 2.5" laptop drives (and has slots for two of them). That allows for a total of 4TB of media storage in addition to what you can fit on the system's main solid-state drive.

    The Home Theater Keyboard/Trackpad Combo:

    Microsoft Wireless All-In-One Media Keyboard

    Consider picking up the convenient Microsoft Wireless All-in-One Keyboard and Touchpad combo to make navigation of your HTPC a whole lot easier from your couch! Microsoft has been in the peripherals game for a long time, and makes some of the most reliable products on the market.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Want a truly premium experience? Go for Corsair's new K83 keyboard, which is made of aluminum, includes backlighting, and features both a touchpad and a joystick, allowing it to control Smart TVs and streaming sticks too!

    The Ultimate Universal Remote:

    Azulle Lynk Multifunctional Remote Control

    If you want to control your PC from the couch, you're going to want more than just a traditional mouse, and that's where a universal PC remote comes in. The best of the best comes from Azulle - its Lynk can do just about everything, from learning IR codes to controlling your PC via its built-in wireless keyboard, to actually mousing around your TV screen using its six-axis gyroscope. It's really amazing what you get for the price!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Learn more about this amazing product in our full hands-on review!