This is the second installment in my below $250 budget HTPC builds. This one is a little more updated since the last, using newer spec hardware, but keeping within the $250 budget. Take a peek at what I’ve put together, and use this for a base on your next HTPC build or upgrade. You can take a look at my previous build here, or you can take a look at my current setups. Either way I’m sure you will be able to find inspiration, or advice in the never ending world of PC and HTPC building.
This list or build is just a suggestion. This isn’t the best nor the cheapest. You may be able to find something on sale and get a better part for the same price, etc. This is sort of a ‘what’s good now for the following price’ sort of thing to help you on your way. At the same time feel free to buy this setup, and run with it. It’ll work great paired up with Openelec or XBMCbuntu.
Right now lets get down to business.
AMD Athlon 5350 APU – $59.99
The APU market right now is amazing. This Quad-Core 2.05GHz model is amazing. In this tiny form factor you will be able to pump out stunning visuals in 1080p. You have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to lag or stuttering. You should also be able to get by with some light emulator gaming.
ASRock Motherboard Micro AM1H-ITX – $58.99
This Mini-ITX, AM1 socket motherboard is an engineering feat. It has the following ports: HDMI Port, 1x Display Port, 1x Optical SPDIF Out, 1x RJ45 LAN Port, Audio I/O Jacks, 4x USB 3.0 Ports (2 rear, 2 via header), 6x USB 2.0 Ports. What else could you possibly need? Oh yeah you wanted an onboard DC power connector? CHECK. This allows you to keep the sound down (to zero..) and keep the heat out and away from the case. Oh and if you have an old laptop power supply laying around, use that and skip on buying the one below.
Crucial 2GB DDR3 – $25.09
This is 2GB of RAM. Nuff said…
I’m actually using the same SSD I listed in Build 1 of this series. It’s solid, I trust ADATA, and it’s gone down in price since my previous build post. Win in my books.
M350 Universal Mini-ITX – $35.94
This case is a solid performer. Many people in the HTPC community have one, and it’s received great reviews all over the net.
90w Universal Ac Adapter – $13.15
If you don’t have a spare 90w (19v) laptop power supply kicking around, pick up this universal one. This powers the HTPC with enough juice, while keeping the sound down and the heat away from critical components. This also allows you to have it farther from an outlet as this cable is much longer than a standard power supply cable.
This build is a solid HTPC. I’m actually going to be recommending this to a family member who is in the market to buy a Roku, and ask him to re-consider rolling his own media player (with Openelec of course).
How could you improve upon this?
- More storage – I like the speed of an SSD. Some people want storage over speed, so some people would opt for a larger mechanical drive. Be careful if you do while using the case I recommended
- More RAM – I find 2GB is more than enough for Openelec/Linux. If you’re going to be running Windows, toss a 1x4GB stick in. No need for dual channel here!
- Nicer case – Sure the one I recommended isn’t covered in LEDs and brushed metal. If that’s your thing look into a nicer Silverstone case
All in all I hope you liked this build, and if you have any recommendations or questions please let me know in the comments, I’d love to see your feedback.