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 here 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.
Part List for Budget HTPC Build
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 5600G 6-Core, 4.4 GHz Processor||View|
|Cooler||Noctua NH-L9x65, Low-Profile CPU Cooler||View|
|Motherboard||ASUS Prime A520M-A II/CSM||View|
|Memory||TEAMGROUP T-Force Vulcan Z 16GB DDR4 3200 MHz||View|
|Solid State Drive||Crucial BX500 1TB 3D NAND SATA3 SSD||View|
|Power Supply||SilverStone SST-TX300-USA 80+ Bronze||View|
Grand Total: $560-$650
*The shown grand total price is purely informative and is subject to change.
**The estimated price includes only PC components. Costs of Windows operating system license, and other peripherals are not included.
To be fair, 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 seem bad at all. 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 codecs, such as H.265 (HEVC) and VP9.
Down below you can find more details about each component of our HTPC build.
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 6 cores and 12 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 i5-12400F, or even the Core i5-12600K.
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% faster 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 of delivering 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.
Cooler: Noctua NH-L9x65
Supported Sockets: 115X, 1200, 1700, 2066, AM4 | Dimensions: 65 x 95 x 95 mm | Noise Level: 24 dBA | Fans: 1 x 92 mm
Since our budget HTPC features a compact small form factor PC case, fitting AMD’s stock Wraith cooler inside it simply won’t be possible. This is why we highly recommend getting the Noctua NH-L9x65 CPU cooler to cool down the Ryzen 5 5600G, not only because it has won numerous awards, but also because it is considered to be one of the best low-profile CPU coolers on the market.
Measuring only 65 mm in height, and 95 mm in length, the NH-L9x65 many not look very big. Despite its compact size, this cooler is quite heavy, as it packs 413 grams of pure aluminum and nickel plated copper pipes. This means that the NH-L9x65 can’t boast with excellent cooling performance, and very low fan noise of only 24 decibels.
Motherboard: ASUS Prime A520M-A II/CSM
Form Factor: Micro ATX | Socket: AM4 | Chipset: AMD A520 | Memory Support: 4 x DDR4-4800 (OC) | Features: 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16, 2 x PCIe 3.0 x1, 4 x SATA3, 1 x M.2
The ASUS Prime A520M-A II/CSM is nice budget microATX motherboard that offers all the essential features for a very reasonable price. It fully supports the latest AMD Ryzen 5000 series CPUs, including the Ryzen 5 5600G, and can handle memory sticks running at speeds of up to 4,800 MHz (if overclocked). The board comes with one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, and two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. There is also one M.2 socket for NVMe SSD.
Although the board doesn’t feature integrated Wi-Fi solution, you can always purchase a discrete Wi-Fi card, such as the TP-Link AC1200, and install it in one of its free expansion slots. The board also comes with six USB ports, as well as one DisplayPort, one HDMI port, and one VGA port. In short, the Prime A520M-A II/CSM is a solid board for building a versatile HTPC on a tight budget.
Speed: DDR4 3200 MHz | Timings: 16-18-18-38 | Operating Voltage: 1.35 V | Capacity: 2 x 8GB
Building a budget HTPC in 2022 requires use of inexpensive components. Luckily enough, DDR4 RAM is nowadays very affordable, so buying two memory sticks with a capacity of 8GB won’t break your bank. The TEAMGROUP’s T-Force Vulcan Z 16GB kit represents an optimal choice for our budget HTPC, since it can offer fairly fast 3,200 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: Crucial BX500 1TB 3D NAND SATA3 SSD
Capacity: 1 TB | Interface: SATA3 | Max. Sequential Read: Up to 540 MB/s | Max. Sequential Write: Up to 500 MB/s
In this day and age when solid state 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 Crucial BX500 was our first choice, since this drive can boast with good reliability, 3-year warranty, and fast sequential read and write speeds of up to 540 MB/s and 500 MB/s, respectively. The Crucial BX500 also comes with high-end 3D NAND memory, meaning it can deliver better performance and higher capacity, for a lower power consumption.
Case: Antec VSK2000-U3
Form Factor: mATX | Motherboard Support: Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX | Dimensions: 356 × 338 × 102 mm | I/O Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x HD Audio, 1 x Mic | Drive Bays: 1 x 5.25″, 1 x 3.5″, 1 x 2.5″
Case is one of the most important components of every 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 essential features that make assembly easier. An ideal HTPC case should resemble to that of a gaming console, or an old VHS player, however, most of these “horizontal” cases are quite expensive and hard to find.
The Antec VSK2000-U3 case 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 supports CPU coolers up to 65 mm in height. The VSK2000-U3 can also house a GPU that measures up to 200 mm in length, and it also allows you to install up to three storage drives of different sizes. All-in-all, this is a nice and cozy PC case, and should provide good closure for your HTPC’s internal components.
Power Supply: SilverStone SST-TX300-USA
Form Factor: TFX | Capacity: 300 W | Efficiency rating: 80+ Bronze Certified | Modularity: Non-modular
Last but not least, there is the power supply unit. Since our budget HTPC build features the Antec VSK2000-U3 case which only supports special TFX PSUs, the SilverStone SST-TX300-USA presented itself to us as a perfect candidate to get a starring role in the power department.
Featuring a power capacity of 300 W, this PSU is able to deliver enough power to all the PC components of our HTPC build, and it comes silent 80 mm fan, active PFC, and single PCI-E 6-pin connector. In idle mode, this PSU produces negligible noise, meaning it’s practically silent, and it has enough power to support even some entry-level GPUs, such as the AMD Radeon RX 6400.
And that’s it! This is our best budget HTPC build for 2022. We hope this buying guide will help finding the best components for your next 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 4K videos 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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