How to build a 4K HTPC – Part Six: Peripherals and Everything Else

It’s been about 3 months since we started down the path of building our 4K HTPC. I bet you thought we were all finished. Guess again!

Seriously though, just a few more things to cover for good measure. It’s been pretty smooth sailing throughout most of the build and setup process. Sure, we have had a few bugs along the way, but nothing that wasn’t fixable. I have to say, though, this is probably my favorite PC build to date. If you are still waiting to take the plunge, or you are still considering building vs buy a pre-built box, I hope I have convinced you to go the DIY route. After several months of testing and experiencing my new HTPC, I am very happy with the choices I made and I can’t say that I regret a single decision. As of today, I don’t think you can really beat the value/performance ratio for a small form factor PC.

ETR How to Build a 4K HTPC

  1. PART ONE: GOALS AND CHALLENGES
  2. PART TWO: CASE, POWER SUPPLY, MOTHERBOARD, AND COOLING
  3. PART THREE: PROCESSOR, SSD, RAM, AND OPTICAL DRIVE
  4. PART FOUR: SETUP, TROUBLESHOOTING, AND QUIRKY 4K SHIT
  5. PART FIVE: SOFTWARE
  6. PART SIX: PERIPHERALS AND EVERYTHING ELSE
  7. PART SEVEN: GRAPHICS CARD – THE DEFINITIVE INSTALLATION/UPGRADE/HOW-TO GUIDE
  8. UPDATED PARTS LIST FOR 2016
  9. UPDATED PARTS LIST FOR 2017

We have our HTPC fully assembled, setup, and running like a fucking champ. It’s a media streaming/transcoding beast. So what else is there? Is there anything left to do? Of course there is. You are really only limited by your imagination and budget. I have neither, so I will just cover the basics.

Recommended Peripherals

If you go back to part 4 of out HTPC series, you see that I recommend picking up a USB3 hub to improve the range of your wireless devices. I still recommend picking up a USB hub, but what else should you be thinking about adding to your cart? That’s a complicated question, and it really depends mostly upon your needs and the devices you’re wanting to connect.

Keyboard and Mouse

A wireless keyboard/touchpad combo is an absolute necessity. A dedicated mouse, on the other hand, is probably something most of you (not everyone) can live without.

A wireless keyboard with a built-in touchpad is going to come in very handy if you plan on using it for pretty much anything other than Kodi. Kodi only requires very basic controls and can easily be navigated without the use of a keyboard or touchpad. You can use a simple MCE remote if that is all you plan on doing with your HTPC. For almost everything else, a full keyboard will certainly come in handy.

Keyboard_K400

 

Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 with Built-In Multi-Touch Touchpad

I went ahead and picked up two different types of wireless keyboards. The first one is the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400. The K400 is a wireless all-in-one keyboard and touchpad combo and is a perfect fit for most HTPC owners. It’s not small and compact by any means, it’s about the size as your average everyday keyboard. It comes with a single unifying receiver. So you could easily attach a wireless Logitech mouse if you wanted too (not necessary IMO), but it will save you an extra USB port, which is always nice. The K400 range kinda sucks though (if line of sight with the receiver is obstructed). This keyboard was the main reason I decided to pick up a USB hub. Originally, I had to plug the receiver into the back of the HTPC, this caused lag and range issues. But connecting the receiver to the USB hub and moving it towards the front of the PC fixed every issue I had.

IpazzportKeyboard

 

iPazzPort Raspberry Pi Mini Wireless Handheld Remote Control Keyboard

A full-size keyboard is nice to have if you need to do any lengthy typing or play video games, but I have come to find that I don’t use it all that often. It’s just not all that convenient, it’s just too damn big. My daily driver is this cheap ass all in one micro keyboard from a company called iPazzPort (yeah I know, but hear me out). You know what? It actually isn’t all that bad. It’s cheap, rechargeable, and does the job of a full keyboard without all the bulk. I wouldn’t recommend you use it for gaming or composing lengthy emails, but for your normal everyday web browsing and media consumption, you could do a hell of a lot worse. It’s not an MCE remote, so it cannot communicate with your TV (volume, power, etc.). It’s basically a smaller version of the Logitech keyboard, minus some of Logitech’s fancy features.

I find it to be a perfect media center remote. You can use the cursor keys in the upper right to navigate Kodi, and the touchpad to navigate when you are doing something else. The volume buttons control the PC volume, and you can simulate mouse clicks by double tapping the touchpad or using the dedicated left and right mouse keys on the keyboard. The physical buttons have a nice rubbery tactile feel and a satisfying click when you press a button. Overall, it’s a nice, cheap ass remote that should serve you well, assuming you don’t require TV control. If you need a universal remote that can control your PC and your TV at the same time, you have plenty of options to choose from, but compromises will have to be made. I haven’t found the all-in-one HTPC/TV universal remote that can do absolutely everything. In the meantime, I will have to find a way to get by using 2 remotes (certainly not a deal breaker).

Bluetooth

There are just about a million reasons you might want to add a bluetooth adapter to your HTPC. Connecting your phone, listening to music via wireless headphones or external speaker, bluetooth peripherals, game controllers, etc. It’s a cheap add-on, so why the hell not.

56533-img_7819

DualShock 4 Wireless Controller for PlayStation 4

Do you have a PS4? Would you like to use your DS4 to control your PC and/or play games, just like an Xbox controller? Here is something you can try. NOTE: The following does not “require” a bluetooth adapter, but if you want to use your DS4 wirelessly with your PC, it’s required. Take a look at ds4windows.com. Simply download some software and painlessly setup your DS4 to work with your Windows PC. Getting everything up and running is a piece of fucking cake. It’s obviously a shit load cheaper than buying another wireless controller. Even if you don’t already own a DS4, it might be worth picking up if you plan on doing any gaming. In my opinion, the DS4windows setup is every bit as good as the Xbox 360 controller for PC’s.

Wrap up

Well, folks, I guess that about does it. I have completely run out of shit to talk about, for now. If you have been with me all the way through this 4K HTPC adventure, I seriously appreciate it. If you read anything for that matter, you fucking rock! I hope you have enjoyed reading this guide as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Till next time!

UPDATE: Thought I was done! So did I…But fuck that, let’s keep this train a rollin! Jump over to Part 7, and let’s install a graphics card!

Got a question? Did I fuck up? Well, don’t just stand there with your thumb up your ass, give me a shout! Drop me a line in the comments section below.

 [DS4 image via tested.com]

  • Programmatic Nemo

    Hey Epic,

    I enjoyed the build – I recently bought a 4K TV not having given one thought to whether my NUC would be able to push that display. It was dropping frames left and right – not surprising considering what I was asking it to do. I pretty much exclusively use WMC for it’s DVR capabilities (and ease of skipping commercials). In the end, I just couldn’t stomach building a new HTPC for 4K and ended up returning the tv and just getting a 1080p one instead.

    Long build up to my questions – but are you recording live OTA TV with your setup and if so what are you using? Know that MSFT has announced the death of WMC I’m faced with a future that will necessitate deploying a new software/application for recording/viewing TV and I’m wondering if you have something that you’re using. I’m an exclusive to OTA and streamable content viewer – I get 15 HD channels over the air and I’m happy with that, but I want/need to be able to record them so that I can skip the non essential parts.

    Thanks again for the detailed build – looks like a solid HTPC (but I’ll always love the form factor that the NUC represents….).

    • ETR

      Thanks for the feedback and great question! I have plans for a DVR setup, but I have yet to implement anything. I am under contract with DirecTV (Yeah I know) for a few more months, but I may terminate my contract early. I don’t use their service enough to justify having it.

      Once I am free of DirecTV, I plan on integrating a DVR setup using HDHomeRun, MythTV for the back end, and Kodi for the front end. Once I have everything setup, I will certainly post a “how to” guide right here. Hopefully within the next few months.

      • Programmatic Nemo

        Yeah, I’ve looked at MythTV but the process of building the windows binary seems….. daunting (for me anyways, I’ve precious little time to devote to figuring out such things). I guess at that point I could switch my HTPC to a Linux build from Windows.

        I’ll look forward to checking out your How To.

        • ETR

          I’m just gonna see how it goes. I haven’t done too much research on the subject yet. If MythTV is too much of a pain in the ass, I’ll move onto something else like NextPVR, MediaPortal, WMC, Argus TV, etc. I heard great things about Argus. But whatever the case may be, I’ll be sure to post my trials and tribulations once I get everything setup.

  • Daniel

    Hi Ryan,

    I’m building my own home theatre and HTPC and ran into your series. Nice write up.

    I’ll just like to add, perhaps you might want to take the build up one level. One big level…..

    Run a Geforce GT6xx and upwards GPU so that you get Audio Bit Streaming support. And run the thing through an AV receiver out to the speakers. That way you get DTS: Master Audio. It’s lossless. And you let the receiver control all the audio.

    I haven’t figured out all the catches yet… like for Video, whether to output that from the GPU to the projector via HDMI or feed that into the AV Receiver. The latter if works should give better results as the receiver is doing all the hard work. And it’s dedicated hardware doing all the video and audio decoding.

    Happy to hear your comments and suggest that you do a Part 7: Hook up to AV receiver for lossless audio.

    Cheers,
    Dan

    • ETR

      Hey Dan, great comment! I am currently holding out to see if Nvidia releases a midrange, low profile GPU that supports HDMI 2.0 (fingers crossed). I still have yet to hear a peep out of Nvidia, so I wont be holding my breath.

      I really appreciate the awesome suggestion, I’d love to test it out sometime. This is a long term project, so stay tuned for future updates.

      • Daniel

        Hey Ryan,

        I did a quick google on the diff bet HDMI 1.4 and 2.0 and it seems its just meant to support 4K at 50 / 60p.
        http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/hdmi-2-0-vs-1-4

        For me, I’ll be using my trusty 1080p projector and therefore wouldn’t need 4k, not that there’s any content or much of it. Anyhow prices are still too high atm. 1080p is the main stream standard for me :)

        Getting bit streaming from GPU to AV receiver which then goes out to speakers and projector / TV will be the ultimate in flexibility as I can play my backed up bluray images in ISO, get the receiver to do all the decoding and all with full lossless surround sound as the sound engineers intended.

        And I get to avoid all the HDCP issues and avoid scratching my bluray discs and have all my library collection available “on demand”.

        Definitely worth trying….

  • Frankpc

    Great article. I read and enjoyed all 6 parts. I may have missed it, but, what HDMI rating does this end up with: 1.4 or 2.0. I think 1.4. And evidently 1.4 is fast enough to support 4K. My goal would be to play the 4K demos on the HTPC and connect that to my AVR and 4K TV. The TV and AVR are HDMI 2.0 and are 4K capable.

    A follow up question is how long can the HDMI cable be to carry 4K? I need around 15 to 18 feet. I have an HDMI cable now, but not for 4K. Is there a particular cable that I should purchase?

    Thank you!

    • ETR

      Awesome, I am glad you liked it! Thanks for the great comment.

      As far as HDMI goes, my Vizio P Series TV is HDMI 2.0 compliant, so it will run 4K @ 60Hz when I can hookup a HDMI 2.0 output source, like a new GPU. The only problem is finding a low profile GPU that supports HDMI 2.0, as far as I can tell, they don’t exist just yet. So till then, 30Hz is where I’ll be.

      It will run 4K @30Hz the way it is currently setup in the six part series (integrated graphics & HDMI), and that’s running off of a cheap ass, six foot, 5 year old, V1.3b HDMI cable.

      I cant be too sure about the 15-18 foot cable, but I wouldn’t think that’s long enough to cause many issues. I would probably just spring for a slightly better cable. Usually you need to go out to about 45-50 feet too really start messing up signal quality at 1080P. I’m curious to know how it works out for you, I may have the need for a similar setup in the future. I hope that helps