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