What is the Best Home Theater PC? Surround Sound in a Mini System

Best home theater pc

Home theater PCs are media hubs that allow you to stream digital video and music to other devices on your home network. The best ones come in compact and powerful units, but are unfortunately on the pricey side. 

To guide buyers on a tight budget, our experts have rounded up the current best home theater PCs in the market.

Best Overall
Intel NUC 817HNK
Best Design
Apple Mac Mini
Best for Gaming
Origin Neuron PC
Intel NUC 817HNK
Apple Mac Mini
Origin Neuron PC
The HTPC is a portable and compact unit with powerful features for a magnificent performance. With a fast processor and graphics card, this compact HTPC is remarkable.
The Apple Mac Mini is not only known for its aesthetically appealing appearance but also for its impressive high-speed processor and overall excellent performance.
Origin Neuron PC has everything you need to play the latest video games. Its size is perfect for gaming and is easy to install.
Best Overall
Intel NUC 817HNK
Intel NUC 817HNK
The HTPC is a portable and compact unit with powerful features for a magnificent performance. With a fast processor and graphics card, this compact HTPC is remarkable.
Best Design
Apple Mac Mini
Apple Mac Mini
The Apple Mac Mini is not only known for its aesthetically appealing appearance but also for its impressive high-speed processor and overall excellent performance.
Best for Gaming
Origin Neuron PC
Origin Neuron PC
Origin Neuron PC has everything you need to play the latest video games. Its size is perfect for gaming and is easy to install.

Reviews of the Best Home Theater PCs

1. Intel NUC 8 Performance-G Kit NUC 817HNK

If you’re looking for a compact yet powerful HTPC that you can easily place in your home theater, then the Intel NUC 817HNK is for you. It comes with highly-capable components for streaming 4K UHD video to virtual reality gaming.

Powering the Intel NUC is a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and 8 GB of DDR4 RAM. It also includes Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics card, allowing you to play high-end video games.

This HTPC comes with a 1TB storage drive, which you can expand the storage by connecting it to a Network-Attached Storage via the ethernet port or Wi-Fi.

Pros

Cons

2. Apple Mac Mini

The aesthetics of this powerful and small HTPC is outstanding, thanks to its sleek, grey case, which our team loves. The configuration of the Apple Mac Mini is a fast 3.6GHz quad-core processor, with 256GB ROM, perfect for storing all your media content.

The portable unit comes with an HDMI 2.0 port, ideal for handling 4K videos. It includes Ethernet for a seamless home network connection. You can use the 10GB Ethernet and the Network-Attached Storage for more storage.

Pros

Cons

3. Origin Neuron PC

If you’re a game freak, you’ll find the Origin PC Neuron an impeccable option for an HTPC, although it’s a bit on the high side. Though not as compact as other HTPCs reviewed here, gamers will find its size comfortable, as it bears a resemblance to a PlayStation 4. 

It can play the latest game, thanks to the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and Nvidia 8GB GeForce RTX 2080 Super Ventus video card that allows for the best home theater and VR gaming experience[1].

In addition, the HTPC comes with 480 GB SSD and an additional 3TB hard drive for storing all your content.

Pros

Cons

Home Theater PC Buyer’s Guide

Buying a home theater PC takes more than just looking at a price tag. It would be best to consider the following factors in choosing the best home theater PCs.

Design and Build

The first thing you must consider before buying an HTPC is its design and build. Although most theater PCs are small, they vary in weight, shape, and some are more compact than others. Compact home theater PCs easily fit into home theater setups. If it’s portable, that’s a plus. 

Processor

All home theater PCs come equipped with two major types of processors – AMD and Intel CPUs. If you don’t require high performance and have a low budget, AMD will be a fine choice.

 

Intel offers higher performance, and that’s why you mostly find the processor on a home theater PC plays VR video games. However, these PCs tend to be more costly.

Connectivity

When buying a home theater PC, make sure your purchase has lots of connectivity to hook your HTPC to a device.

Also check if your home theater PC comes with multiple inputs and outputs, not excluding HDMI. This input allows you to connect to your 4K TV for a great viewing and sound experience, as well as Ethernet for a convenient setup.

(Want to improve your home theater connections? Why not try high-quality power managers we listed here for enhanced connectivity) 

Storage

If your aim of buying a theater PC is to stream and store up your movies and videos, you’ll be needing one with a massive amount of storage.

FAQ (NLP)

Does HTPC need a graphics card?

HTPC needs a graphics card if you want it to be efficient enough to play games and for a better viewing experience.

Is HTPC dead?

HTPC isn’t dead. They offer more advanced features and are continuing to evolve to suit modern times.

(If you are on the practical side, you can also read our guide on how to make your own media server at home here)

Our Top Pick for a Home Theater PC: Intel NUC 817HNK

After our experts’ review, they concluded that the Intel NUC 817HNK is the most impressive, making it the best home theater PC.

The HTPC includes incredible features, such as a fast Intel processor and graphics card for a remarkable 4K viewing and gaming experience.

Above all, it’s compact and comes with massive storage space for storing media content.

Want to install a surround sound to your home theater seamlessly? Then, check out this page about installing a surround sound without a receiver next. 

Writer

Willie Greer
Willie Greer
Willie Greer is the founder of The Product Analyst. A cinephile, he has made it a personal quest to achieve the awesomest home theater possible. He now shares what he has learned through the years on the site, and has enlisted the help of tech-savvy colleagues in providing more insight about today’s most sought-after gadgets.