My HTPC Project

As you may or may not know, computers and electronics are one of my hobbies. I want to start including that here, starting with a project I did a little while back: building a home theater PC (HTPC)! An HTPC is a computer built to take the place of the standard set top box/game console that you would normally put under your TV.

First things first, let’s get the list of parts.

Build Components

Now, without further ado!

The Build Process

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Motherboard installed. Mini ITX cases aand motherboards are extremely small. The SSD will slide into one of the two 2.5″ hard drive mounts on the right side of the case.

 

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Power supply is in the top right corner here. SFX-L PSUs are slightly longer than normal SFX PSUs, but the extra length allows this one to have a larger (and quieter) 120mm fan. I replaced the stock fan on the CPU heatsink with the Noctua one at a later date.
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Here is it with all the components in! There isn’t much room for good cable management in a build like this, but I did the best I could with the space I had available.

Now after this I actually rolled with just the integrated graphics on the A10-7870K APU for a little while. They were actually pretty good, being capable of running just about anything well enough to be playable. I mostly used it for Plex at this point in time, with some lighter games. I bidded my time until the release of AMD’s RX 480 graphics card…

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It finally arrived! I got mine in the second wave of them, they literally sol dout in seconds the first time. I got a reference version, which means it has a blower cooler. I actually wanted the blower cooler, because they push all the heat generated out the back of the case which is huge in small form-factor cases.
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Here you can see both the unboxed GPU (with backplate, a nice touch for a reference card) along with the unique GPU mounting solution in my case. The GPU is in a seperate compartment from the other components, which helps with heat!
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Here the GPU is mounted inside the case. As this is a very efficient card, it only needs one 6-pin power connector.
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The finished product in my entertainment center! I’ve got it connected to an AV reciever and surround sound system for the best video and audio in both games and all kinds of media.

With the graphics card installed, I can play just about anything with the highest settings. The sound is fantastic as well. I use Steam Big Picture Mode to control the computer along with an Flirc dongle + Harmony remote. OpenPHT powers Plex on this machine, letting me stream anything. I have a bluetooth keyboard for typing when it’s required, and my old Xbox 360 controllers work thanks to a USB device I found online.

Building an HTPC can be as complicated and expensive as you make it, and I think this machine is a nice middle ground where I have more options for games/media and can get the highest quality possible. Also, since it can decode basically any format unlike the Chromecast or other options, my Plex server doesn’t have to transcode anything when I stream media to it. Overall I’m extremely pleased with how it came out. Thanks for reading!

 

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