Although there are many tech users out there who will argue that HTPCs, or home theater PCs, are dead in 2022, they are still very popular, and lots of people seem to be enjoying their capabilities in their living rooms. However, there is some truth that HTPCs are no longer as popular as they used to be. In the last few years an overwhelming number of new Android TV devices has appeared on the market, and their popularity seems to be growing strong. The Android TV devices are successfully replacing DVD and Blu-ray players in our living rooms, and with the growing number of video streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or HBO GO, they prove to be very good solution for streaming video content.
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However, Google Chromecast, NVIDIA Shield TV and various Android TV devices are no match for standalone PCs. The Android OS was never designed to be a leisure-friendly environment, although it has many capabilities to become such. One particular thing about Android OS is that it was designed for touchscreen devices, and home media players have no such features. Also, Android OS seems to be only good for streaming video content, and not playing it. Of course, you can always download and install apps such as VLC Player, MX Player or KODI, however, playing your videos on Android TV box is often too complicated, and let’s be honest, your family relatives always have trouble playing your home-made videos on it.
Luckily enough, there are HTPCs. And they are still awesome. Nowadays everybody knows how to use a PC, and HTPCs are no different, except they fit in a small box. With HTPC you can stream any video channel, play any kind of video format, install gazillion of video codecs, and even play video games or browse online content – all hassle free. Like any other PC, the home theater PC costs much more than a generic Chinese-made Android TV box, however, the investment is well worth it, as you will gain much more possibilities with it.
Since HTPCs are only meant to function as media players, rather than fully-functioning PCs, nowadays it is very inexpensive to build them. Also, you can install custom Linux or Android OS on them (instead of Windows OS), and you can even use them as home cloud centers. For these reasons, we are today going to show you how to build your own HTPC for as little money as possible in 2022.
Best way to make your PC as cheap as possible is to reduce the number of its components. Since CPU-integrated graphics have become quite powerful in the last few years, building a small and affordable HTPC in 2022 has never been easier. In this short guide, we’ll show you how to build your new HTPC, and which components should you buy in order to play games on your ultra-affordable small form factor PC.
Building the best budget HTPC in 2022 requires sacrifice of a discrete graphics card. This, however, doesn’t mean we are going to give up on 3D graphics altogether. Most Intel Core processors nowadays come with integrated graphics, however, AMD Ryzen CPUs seem to be a much better choice in that regard, since their Vega graphics modules prove to be much more powerful. The best such processor is the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G, however, it is quite expensive, and is a much better choice for a high-end PC build, rather than a budget APU build. Luckily enough, AMD has other, cheaper processors, such as the Ryzen 5600G, which is able to run even AAA games, and it provides a solid starting point for further upgrades. Taking that into consideration, it is a no-brainer that the Ryzen 5600G is going to be the cornerstone of our budget HTPC build for 2022.
Budget HTPC Build Components
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 5600G 6-Core, 4.4 GHz Processor||Check price|
|Motherboard||ASUS Prime B550M-A WiFi||Check price|
|Memory||TEAMGROUP T-Force Vulcan Z 16GB DDR4 3000 MHz||Check price|
|Solid State Drive||Western Digital Black 1TB SN750 SE NVMe SSD||Check price|
|Power Supply||Thermaltake Smart 500W 80+ White||Check price|
|Case||Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L||Check price|
At the time of writing this guide, the total cost of PC components required for our HTPC build was around $600. Now, to be honest, this isn’t the cheapest HTPC build out there, but it is most certainly a budget one. Keep in mind that for this price you will get a completely new PC with all the warranties, so when you take that into consideration, a price of six hundred dollars doesn’t sound so bad. However, our HTPC doesn’t perform as any kind of home media player. You will also be able to play games with it. In order to show you how powerful our budget 2022 HTPC is, we’ve also ran some gaming benchmarks on it:
Expected Gaming Performance
|720p Gaming @ Lowest Settings||AMD Ryzen 5 5600G IGP|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla||35 FPS|
|Battlefield V||74 FPS|
|Counter-Strike: Global Offensive||330 FPS|
|Grand Theft Auto V||75 FPS|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider||77 FPS|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt||59 FPS|
As you can see, the Ryzen 5 5600G with Vega 6 integrated graphics is a pretty decent APU. Sure, it’s not powerful enough to run AAA games on ultra settings at 1080p, but if you plan to play widely popular CS:GO or Fortnite, then this CPU will be more than enough to run these games at +100 frames per second at 720p resolution. Speaking of 4K video playback, the Ryzen 5 5600G can play 4K videos without any hiccups, and can even play 4K YouTube videos since it supports hardware decoding for the latest video codes, such as H.265 (HEVC) and VP9. Overall, our HTPC will be quite sufficient for playing media files, as well as gaming at 720p resolution.
If you are interested in specific details of each component of our HTPC build, then keep reading further.
PC BUILD DETAILS
Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
Cores/Threads: 6C/12T | Clock Speed: 4.4 GHz | TDP: 65 W | PassMark Score: 19.840
Although it’s labeled as a mid-range CPU, the new AMD Ryzen 5 5600G is an incredibly powerful budget CPU that easily outperforms its predecessors like the Ryzen 5 3600. Packing six cores and twelve threads, the Ryzen 5 5600G can boast with impressive multi-threaded performance, as well as with respectable gaming performance. The CPU is also able to trade blows with the latest Intel processors, such as the Core i5-11400F, or even the Core i7-10700K.
Compared to its slightly more powerful sibling, the Ryzen 5600X, the Ryzen 5600G features an integrated Vega 6 graphics chip that is able to deliver impressive shading performance. Its integrated GPU is about 16% than the GeForce GT 1030, which is quite amazing, and is able to deliver more than 60 FPS in most PC games at 720p resolution on low settings. As such, the Ryzen 5 5600G is more than enough capable to provide enjoyable gaming experience, especially in eSports titles and competitive multiplayer games.
Overall, the Ryzen 5 5600G is an outstanding mid-range APU that is able to deliver respectable computing and graphics performance. It can handle heavy-duty tasks, such as video encoding, and ensure smooth desktop user experience. Its only downside is that it doesn’t support PCIe 4.0 interface, meaning you won’t be able to fully utilize the power of your high-end discrete GPU if you decide to pair it with this CPU.
Motherboard: ASUS Prime B550M-A WiFi
Form Factor: Micro ATX | Socket: AM4 | Chipset: AMD B550 | Memory Support: 4 x DDR4-4866 (OC) | Features: 1 x PCIe 4.0 x16, 2 x PCIe 3.0 x1, 4 x SATA3, 2 x M.2, Intel Wi-Fi 6
The ASUS Prime B550M-A WiFi is an ideal mid-range motherboard for a budget HTPC build. It comes with an integrated Wi-Fi 6 module, meaning you won’t have to bother pulling the wires from you router to connect your HTPC to the Internet, and it comes with all the essential features a standard motherboard should have. The Prime B550M-A WiFi features full support for AMD Ryzen 5000 series CPUs, it has one PCIe 4.0 x16 slot, two M.2 slots for NVMe SSDs, and four slots for DDR4 RAM modules.
Great thing is that this board comes with a wide range of display connectors, which include VGA, DVI, and HDMI 2.1 connectors. On its rear panel you’ll also find six USB Type-A ports, as well as three audio jacks, and a LAN port. The only downside is that it has no USB Type-C ports, but this is no surprise given its price. In short, the Prime B550M-A WiFi is a solid foundation for building a versatile HTPC on a tight budget.
Speed: DDR4 3000 MHz | Timings: 16-18-18-38 | Operating Voltage: 1.35V | Capacity: 2 x 8GB
Building the budget HTPC build in 2022 requires use of inexpensive components. Luckily enough, DDR4 RAM is nowadays very affordable, so buying two memory modules with a capacity of 8GB won’t break your bank. In that regard, the TEAMGROUP’s T-Force Vulcan Z 16GB kit represents an optimal choice, since it can offer fairly fast 3,000 MHz DDR4 memory with CAS 16 latency for less than $60. These memory modules also work perfectly with Ryzen 5 5600G, since TEAMGROUP has been specifically optimizing their memory modules to work with AMD processors.
Solid State Drive: WD Black 1TB SN750 SE NVMe SSD
Capacity: 1 TB | Interface: PCIe Gen4 | Max. Sequential Read: Up to 3,600 MB/s | Max. Sequential Write: Up to 2,830 MB/s
In this day and age when external hard drives have become very affordable, buying an internal mechanical drive to store your OS and data makes no sense. For this reason, we’ve decided to completely ditch all mechanical hard drives out of our HTPC build, and spend the remaining budget on a high-quality solid-state drive. The WD Black 1TB SN750 SE NVMe SSD was our first choice, since this drive can boast with enhanced reliability, industry-leading mean time to failure (MTTF) of 1.75M hours, and stellar sequential read and write speeds of up to 3,600 MB/s and 2,830 MB/s, respectively. The WD Black 1TB SN750 SE also features high-end 3D NAND memory, meaning it can deliver better performance and higher capacity, for a lower power consumption and smaller spatial footprint.
Form Factor: mATX | Motherboard Support: Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX | Dimensions: 387 × 230 × 381 mm | Fan Support: 5 x 120 mm | I/O Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x HD Audio | Drive Bays: 1 x 3.5″, 2 x 2.5″
Case is one of the most important components of any HTPC. However, finding an affordable, yet DIY-friendly compact case is no easy job. There are plenty of small form factor PC cases out there, however, most of them are ridiculously expensive, or lack some essential features which make assembly easier. The ideal HTPC case should look similar to the one of a gaming console, or an old VHS player, however, most of these “horizontal” cases are quite expensive and hard to find.
The Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L represents a decent option for building a compact HTPC that will blend with your living room surroundings. It offers plenty of room to accommodate a micro-ATX motherboard, and will support CPU coolers that measure up to 159 mm in height. The MasterBox Q300L can also house a GPU that measures up to 360 mm in length, and it also allows you to install up to two 120 mm liquid cooling radiators. All-in-all, this is a cozy small PC case, and it should provide good closure for your HTPC’s internal components.
Power Supply: Thermaltake Smart 500W 80+ White
Form Factor: ATX | Capacity: 500 W | Efficiency rating: 80+ White Certified | Modularity: Non-modular
Last but not least, there is the power supply unit. Since our budget HTPC build features the Cooler Mater MasterBox Q300L PC case which supports standard ATX PSUs, the Thermaltake Smart 500W 80+ PSU presented itself to us as a perfect candidate to get the starring role in the power department. Not only this power supply unit can deliver 38 A of current on +12V rail under full load, but it can also boast with MTBF of 100,000 hours, and a low price of less than $50.
The Thermaltake Smart 500W is able to deliver more than enough power to all the PC components of our HTPC build, and it comes with sleeved cables, as well as with 5 year warranty. In idle mode, this PSU produces negligible noise, meaning it’s practically silent, and it has enough power to support even some high-performance graphics cards, such as the GeForce RTX 3070.
And that’s it! This is our best budget HTPC build for 2022. We hope this buying guide will help you in deciding which components you’ll buy in order to assemble your own home theater PC. Our build may not be the most powerful one out there, however, for its price it offers very much. You’ll be able to easily play any video format with it, and even play some video games. This small PC will fit nicely under your flat screen TV, and if you pair it with wireless peripherals, such as Logitech MX Keys Wireless Keyboard, you can easily interact with it from the safety of your couch. Altogether, this will be a great device for watching home videos with your family members, or streaming movies and TV series with your friends.
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