Last week I wrote about the different HTPC options. The final option that I mentioned was that it may be a good idea, depending on your needs, to build your option home theatre PC. Now if you are not familiar with PC hardware options at the moment, you may not know what to look for and what to buy. Don’t worry about that, because I’ve done it all for you. Below is a list of hardware that you can purchase and put together yourself to build a small little home theatre PC. The highlights are the case, which is small and will fit in perfectly with your other home theatre equipment, and the AMD “APU”, which is a CPU and GPU combo. The motherboard takes advantage of this hardware by offering an HDMI port, so you literally plop the parts together, run an HDMI cable to your TV, and you are off and running.
CPU: AMD A6-5400K 3.6GHz Dual-Core Processor ($69.23 @ DirectCanada)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M-DGS Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard ($49.99 @ Canada Computers)
Memory: Kingston Blu 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($34.99 @ NCIX)
Storage: Mushkin Callisto Deluxe 120GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Case: Silverstone ML03B HTPC Case ($56.46 @ DirectCanada)
Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling Silencer MK III 400W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($39.99 @ Memory Express)
Building a computer from scratch is way easier than you may think. Even better, there are tons of online resources available if you’re unsure of the process. Here’s a guide from Lifehacker, here’s a video from Newegg, and here’s another guide from TomsHardware. If you are worried about a particular component or aspect of the build, just do a quick google search and I’m sure you’ll find a youtube video of someone using that exact case or installing that same CPU. The internet is full of resources – use them!
As for what software you can have running on this PC, well, the sky is the limit there. By far the easiest thing to do would be to install Windows 7 and XMBC. Windows 7 is perfect for getting compatibility with everything you could ever want for a HTPC. It’ll have all the video codecs to decrypt any type of file you find online, and it will have the ability to download and run Steam for any computer games you want to play on your TV. If that’s not all, you can always add an emulator and a game control (wired or wireless) to this system and then you can play all the old school games from your childhood on your gigantic TV. Of course if you want to go an Open Source and legally free route, you can always install Linux (Ubuntu is most often used in this application) and then start tinkering with XBMC or another media player from there.
Have you built a HTPC? Would you consider it?