Building a HTPC is sometimes better than getting something that is pre-made or pre-built. You choose what goes in it, and you get complete freedom over what you need. Requirements for one person may be wildly different than the next person. Sometimes you may need a starting point, or sometimes you want something done for you. The HTPC world can be daunting and getting a little help can point you in the right direction. Continue below for the first of our budget HTPC builds.
In the various HTPC and cordcutting websites I visit, the most common questions that come up are around custom HTPC builds. Many people are fine with getting an Intel NUC Celeron 874 (BOXDCCP847DYE), but many people still like to build their own HTPCs. I have the best of both worlds in my home. I have a NUC and a custom built HTPC. This works well for me because I have a specific set of requirements.
Many people are budget conscious, and building a HTPC doesn’t need to be an expensive endeavor. If you have some hardware lying around it can end up being even cheaper.
Below is a sub $250 HTPC build that will play anything you throw at it – yes even 1080p blu-ray rips.
Intel Pentium G3420 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor – $68.92
This CPU will do just fine in a HTPC. It’s powerful enough to chug through 1080p video, and if you pair this with something like OpenElec it will hum away with barely breaking a sweat.
ASUS H81M-A LGA 1150 – $60.72
This motherboard is affordable and still provides all the features you need. It has HDMI. It gets the job done.
Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory – $33.95
I chose to use 1x 4GB as it saves on costs, but it allows us to expand to 2x 4GB in the future if we want to.
A-Data Premier Pro SP600 32GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk – $44.99
A 32GB SSD is more than enough for a HTPC. Since we’re not storing our videos and audio on it, we only need something small to hold the OS.
Apex DM-387 HTPC Case w/275W Power Supply – $40.49
This case is actually quite nice. I’m using it for my custom HTPC build. It’s pretty spacious, the front panel is nice, and overall it’s not too bad. The PSU isn’t the greatest but I haven’t had any issues with it.
As you can see, we snuck in under $250. That’s not to say we couldn’t make this even cheaper.
How to make this build cheaper
- Run Openelec off of a USB stick, internally to the case (off of the USB header on the motherboard) – save costs on a hdd/ssd
- Re-use an old PC case
- Re-use an old mechanical HDD you have laying around
I hope you found this useful. Like I said, use this as-is and you will have an excellent HTPC. Or, build off of this to suit your specific needs.
Post your questions or comments below and I will be able to help you, or recommend something different.
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Can Windows 7 or 8 be used with this setup? Granted it will increase the cost.
Yes you can use Windows 7 or 8, but like you mentioned it will increase the cost significantly. I always recommend OpenELEC as it’s free and does everything I need, but some people may have additional requirements.