A Cheap HTPC Build (2013)

-Last updated Friday, February 13, 2013


Home Theater PCs (HTPCs) have become quite popular in the last years, with people wanting to stream material from the web directly to their home theater. After all, what's more fun than watching 1080p YouTube videos on your new 52" flat-screen TV?

Below is an HTPC build that I like a lot, since it offers excellent performance for its price.


Keep in mind that, when it comes to HTPCs, you can easily find prebuilt machines that will be CHEAPER than this build (though probably not as powerful); nonetheless, I find it much more fun to assemble your own computer. Plus, you get bragging rights!



  1. No operating system is included with this build, so you'll need to shave off another hundred dollars for Windows. If you have a copy of Windows, you can install it, otherwise, you can use Linux which is pretty good for HTPCs, albeit somewhat harder to use.
  2. Also note that this is simply the tower, and does not include the monitor, mouse, keyboard, or other peripherals.
  3. Finally, if you screw up anything, we are not to be held responsible.
Parts Links Price (USD)
-Optical Drive:
-Power Supply (PSU):
-Processor/Video Card:


With taxes and shipping, the overall price averages around 360$

More information on each component, and justification of our choices.

  • Case: When it comes to HTPCs, we want something that will be unobtrusive and discrete. This case is very cheap, yet reliable and strong. It's worth noting though that I find this case to be a bit too big for my taste, but since that's the only problem with it, I chose it anyway.


    Motherboard: The motherboard is in some ways the heart of the computer. If your board behaves badly, then the entire computer will be unusable. This AsRock A75M is slightly on the expensive side (for a CHEAP HTPC), but I rather be safe and get a good board that has all I need. In the case of our build, we need an ATX or MicroATX board with an FM1 socket and HDMI output. This particular model has all that, with the added bonus of providing SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0.


    Optical Drive: Here, our budget is catching up with us. A good HTPC would have a Blu-ray drive, but that would cost 40$ more than this current build. Instead, I went for a quiet (yet fast) DVD/CD drive. I find it important to have a drive that doesn't sound like a motor boat, especially when watching movies. If you wish to go for a model that has Blu-ray support, go for something like this: LG Black 10X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA Internal 12X Blu-ray Combo Drive Model UH12NS29 - OEM



    Power Supply: This computer won't require much power, so we can go easy on the wattage. The 400W provided by this particular model is more than enough for the parts we've chosen. This being said, I wouldn't upgrade to parts that require more juice without changing the power supply.


    Processor/Video Card: AMD's new APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) have been a godsend for HTPC amateurs. These are the only "integrated" graphic chips that offer decent performance. This model, the A8-3850 has a quad core processor that is roughly equivalent to a similarly clocked Athlon II and the HD 6550D chipset is even powerful enough to play some games.


    RAM: Memory isn't that important in this type of build, so 4GBs should suffice. Here, we have some DDR3 ram running at 1600MHz, which is good enough for most uses, without emptying your wallet. If you ever feel like you need more RAM, you can easily upgrade in the future; this motherboard supports up to 16 Gigabytes.


    Storage: Apart from a few programs and some music, HTPCs don't usually have a lot of data stored in them (unless if you rip movies of course...). I recommend getting this Western Digital Caviar Blue drive. It has 500GBs of storage space (good enough for most uses) and is relatively quick without being as loud as most Western Digital Blacks or Seagate Barracudas. If you prefer a completely silent drive, then you should buy a WD Green hard drive, but keep in mind that these will be slower!


Ok, so for 360$, you can build yourself a nice home theater PC that will easily play high definition videos on a large screen. It might not be an incredibly powerful machine, but, for the sake of playing movies, it's more than enough.

Also, I want to remind you that you can easily find good prebuilt HTPCs that will cost even less than this build.


P.S. If you have a few old PCs lying around, you can always scavenge parts to save money. Just make sure they're compatible!


Happy Building!