How to build a 4K HTPC – 2016 Parts List

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Another year has come and gone, so I thought I would update the parts list found in our “How to build a 4K HTPC” series.

*2017 4K HTPC Update*

Updated parts lists for 2017. Click above.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using the parts I had originally listed in parts 1-7, but as components become obsolete and harder to find, you’re going to want to use the latest and greatest, sometimes it’s actually cheaper that way. So, if you’re looking to stay on the cutting edge and use the newest parts available, then you have come to the right place. All previous sections of the how-to guide should still apply, the same basic ideas, concepts and techniques will still be relevant. But there will be a few subtle differences, such as where your motherboard connections line up, the type of RAM, etc.

So, if you’re looking to stay on the cutting edge and use the newest parts available, then you have come to the right place. All previous sections of the how-to guide still apply, the same basic ideas, concepts and techniques are all still relevant. But there will be a few subtle differences, such as where your motherboard connections line up, the type of RAM, etc.

All parts listed are compatible with each other. This list consists of parts that meet a balance of price and performance for building a 4K capable HTPC. I will do my best keep this post updated throughout the year(s), to always use the latest and best parts available.

CPU: Intel Core I5-6400 LGA 1151

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The Intel Core I5-4460 in our original build is no slouch, it’s still perfectly acceptable. If you can find it for significantly cheaper than the new I5-6400, you can certainly go that direction. The performance difference between the two is fairly negligible. But if you want to stay on top of the game, you should probably use the latest generation, the biggest reason being DDR4 RAM.

Integrated graphics performance is just about the same as the previous generation, they both output 4K via HDMI at 24Hz, and 60Hz via Display Port (not many 4K TV’s support Display Port). But if you plan on gaming, you’re still going to want a dedicated graphics card regardless of which processor you select. Sure, integrated graphics will work, but you will be stuck gaming at low details and low resolutions. You can do better.

If you are building from scratch, you should go with the 6400. The I5-6400 features a slightly different socket, LGA1151, which also means DDR4 RAM, but more on that in a minute. Power consumption as a whole should also be slightly improved when compared to the 4460. Again, the difference will hardly be Earth shattering, but it could help you save a few bucks in the long run if you have an always-on HTPC.

Motherboard: MSI B150M BAZOOKA LGA 1151

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We’re going with another Micro ATX motherboard for our 2016 build. It’s a gaming class motherboard, but it sports a plethora of connections. This motherboard from MSI supports LGA 1151, up to 64GB DDR4 (4 slots), HDMI (4K @24Hz), USB-3, PCI-E 3.0 x16, and plenty of SATA3 ports. Everything your HTPC should require.

If you plan on pairing this motherboard with the SilverStone ML04B case found below, you will probably avoid the USB problem we had with our original build. The USB-3 connector plugs into the top of the motherboard connector, rather than the side, which was the cause of our problem.

Memory: Crucial 8GB Single DDR4 2133 (1 DIMM)

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Intel’s new Skylake processors support LGA 1151 sockets, and LGA 1151 motherboards almost always feature DDR4 RAM (a few support DDR3 but the vast majority only support DDR4). DDR3 is still very much alive and well for the time being. But DDR4 is the heir apparent, and will eventually replace DDR3 in all modern PC builds.

Will you see a noticeable difference between the two? To the average user, in a straight up head-to-head competition, probably not. But if you are upgrading from DDR3 to DDR4, you are essentially upgrading your entire PC (processor, motherboard, RAM, etc.) anyway, so in that case, yeah, you would probably notice a difference. But you can’t just stick some DDR4 memory into a DDR3 system, it doesn’t work that way. You need a motherboard that supports DDR4 memory.

DDR4 memory tends to be a bit more expensive than DDR3, but the price difference is not going to make or break your build. It’s probably about $10 extra per 8GB, not a big deal when compared to the cost of the system as a whole. DDR4 features higher module density (more RAM per module) and lower voltage requirements, coupled with higher data rate transfer speeds. You will find that DDR4 is typically sold via 8GB DIMM’s (8GB per stick), and are usually sold as a kit (16, 32, 64 GB). 8GB is sufficient for our HTPC, but feel free to get a 16GB kit. More RAM won’t hurt, but it’s not a requirement.

Storage/Boot Drive (SSD): Crucial BX200 240GB

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Other than storage capacity, our SSD storage/boot drive isn’t much of an improvement over the original. You could save a few bucks and go with a smaller capacity here, but I have found that it’s always best to have a little extra space for future expansion. But, if you can double your capacity for $10-20, you do it, the extra headroom is well worth it in my opinion.

With the steady decline of SSD prices, there is absolutely no reason not to have an SSD as your primary boot drive. They are far too cheap and beneficial to glance over. Data storage is another issue. We’re still a long way from SSD’s replacing HDD’s for large general data storage (movies, music, photos), the cost just doesn’t make up for the benefit.

Case/Chassis: SilverStone ML04b HTPC Case

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This is the same exact chassis we used in our original build, read all about it here. For a dedicated HTPC, it’s perfect. But, assuming you have the room, and you plan on using your HTPC for gaming and want the ability to use full-size graphics cards, I would recommend the SilverStone Grandia Series HTPC Case. It’s larger and more expensive, but you will gain a lot more flexibility in terms of which components you can use in your build, especially graphics cards.

Power Supply: SilverStone Technology 450W SFX 80+ Gold (ST45SF-G)

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I like the extra headroom that a 450W PSU provides. A 300W PSU is pretty much the bare minimum for this type of HTPC build. Also, with a smaller 300W PSU, you will be once agin be limited in which graphics cards you can use in your system.

This 450W PSU will provide you with enough juice to power some mid to higher end graphics cards. It’s also small, power efficient (80 Plus Gold), and modular. Great for compact, always on HTPC builds.

Optical Drive: LG 14x Internal BDXL Blu-Ray Burner Rewriter

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This is pretty much the same optical drive we used in our original build, read all about it here. Bare bones, you will need software if you want the ability to play Blu-ray discs.

Cooling Fan’s: Arctic 80mm Case Fan (2X)

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Don’t skimp on the cooling, especially if your HTPC lives in close quarters. Adequate ventilation is a must. Hot air and high temps are bad for your system in general. Read more about it here.

As usual, if you have any questions, let me know in the comments section below.

  • James OLeary

    What about a graphics card update? My old htpc died and I need to build from scratch.
    Thanks!

    • ETR

      The on board graphics from the i5 are adequate for 4k output via HDMI. If you’re interested in gaming or outputting 4K at 60Hz, you can pick up any GTX 900 series you can afford, fit in your case, and provide adequate power for.

  • Orlando

    Thanks for all the information. Can’t wait to create my own Netflix using my own personal library. Just a couple of questions. Does this case and set up have room for storage? Where will the hard drives be located? Or is this set up connected to a home network? Secondly, when ripping blurays at 1:1 bit, is the audio exact as the bluray? Or would I need a fancy soundcard? Thanks!

    • ETR

      In my build I have 1 SSD, and 1 full size HDD inside the case. Depending on your setup, you could probably fit another one somewhere, but it’s gonna be a tight fit. I have another external drive outside of the case.

      Unless you are really picky with audio, you won’t need a sound card. I think it sounds great, but I’m not too picky.

      • Orlando

        Thanks for the reply. One more question… how is 3D on this set up? I want perfect 1:1 copy of my blurays.

        • ETR

          I do not have a 3D TV (I have a Vizio 4K) so I cannot speak of the quality of 3D rips using MakeMKV. But, I do believe that it is possible. MakeMKV can make perfect 1:1 rips of regular blurays, so I don’t see why 3D would change that.

  • Anders Bergwall

    Any updates on updated hardware for 2016? i think i will go with the Silverstone Grandia GD10 and Corsair SF450 PSU together with i5 6400 CPU and the Bazooka B150M motherboard.

    • ETR

      Nope, not until Intel’s new Kaby Lake processors make their debut. Kaby Lake processors aren’t expected to be released until Q4 of this year, or later. But they are expected to support the same socket (LGA 1151) as Skylake, so you could always upgrade later if need be.

      • Anders Bergwall

        Would you change anything if the chassis are changed to fractal design core? The server will not be visible. And also I would like to use the server as owncloud / hyper-v lab

        • ETR

          Sorry for the really late response. Not really. Using a larger case would certainly help with component selection. You could use a standard size PSU (would probably cost less). Also, you could probably fit a decent sized graphics card inside there. More space to work with will make finding components and assembly that much easier.

          • Anders Bergwall

            i went with the following components with the possibility to upgrade gfx later on for 4k and gaming when needed :)

            it all fits really nice inside the Grandia GD09 chassi.

            i7 6700k
            Asus Z170M-Plus
            EVGA SuperNOVA g2 650w
            16 + 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX Black DDR4 3200mhz
            Silverstone Grandia GD09
            Noctua NH-L12
            Kingston 120GB SSDNow V300 SATA3 2,5 (OS DRIVE)
            Samsung SSD 850 EVO SSD 500GB (TEMP-FILESTORE)

          • Marvin Johnson

            WHAT VIDEO CARD DID YOU USE

          • Anders Bergwall

            None. I use the built in gfx. Later i might install a new gfxcard

  • Pete

    I would have been better off asking a homeless man about htpc’s than reading this. First off 4k@60hz needs hdcp 2.2 through HDMI 2.0, the Asrock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming ITX is the only motherboard to do this natively & the GTX960 is the only Graphics card that supports this.
    Also DDR4 wants to use multiple channels so a single stick will cause issues and hang ups especially when transcoding, so if you want 8gb your better off running 2x4gb sticks.

    • Bobbybobs

      The reviews for the Asrock motherboard are shit. What else do you recommend?

      • Pete

        The Asrock Fatil1ty Z170 Gaming ITX gets 4.5 stars from most of its reviews & Asrock are the only brand I haven’t had any issues with, so I don’t know what your reading bob.
        If you don’t like Asrock get any brand m/board you want and use a GTX960 to get your 4K@60hz HDMI 2.0 hdcp 2.2 output, always check the brands specs to make sure it has the 2.0/2.2 output though.

        • Bobbybobs

          Ah ok thanks man. I was reading the few on Newegg and ppl had problems. http://m.newegg.com/Product/Feedback?itemnumber=N82E16813157650

          I’m new at this so don’t want something with too much headache.

          • Pete

            Ok, I read every review before I bought mine and the only guys having trouble were the guys who shouldn’t be playing with computer components in the first place.
            If your new you want something close to what I’m currently building to avoid current and future issues.

            My build is:
            Streacom fc05 fanless case.
            Streacom passive 240w flex psu.
            Asrock fatal1ty z170 itx.
            i5 6600 65w.
            16gb Kingston fury 2666mhz ram.
            256gb M.2 950 pro Ssd.
            DigitalNow Dual TV tuner.
            Slot load BluRay.
            Software:
            Windows 7 Ultimate.
            MediaPortal.

            If your on a low budget you can go an i3 (not base model i3), 8gb standard MHz ram and an M.2 850 Evo. The big things with a htpc is for it to be silent, have good transfer rates (so CPU speed isn’t as important) and low power so heat is kept as low as can be. My build is as future proof as I can afford, as the low power i7’s are out of my price range but I’m happy with what I am building.

          • Pete

            I was just looking up the Newegg feedback on the Asrock and it looks like a lot of the guys having issues haven’t done their research, 4k@60hz is a little software intensive so the CPU recommendations that I found were i3-6300 or i3-6320, i5-6600 or any i7. It looks like the guys having trouble are the guys running base model i3’s or lower.

    • Pete

      It seems that a lot of people don’t understand hdcp 2.2, this is a brief explanation but I ask that anyone wanting to play with 4K to read up on it. Hdcp 2.2 is the new copy protection but it is a real pain in the butt and copping a lot of flack because it is stupid implemented. Every part of your system needs a hdcp 2.2 connection. So if you have a 4k@60hz tv it needs a hdcp 2.2 connection, then everything you connect to it (i.e. Htpc/uhd bluray player, your amp/receiver, even your sound bar) needs a hdcp 2.2 connection or it will revert back to 1080p. The only thing I can think of for all the guys having trouble pumpin hdcp 2.2 into a 4K tv and getting bad results is that the tv they are using does NOT have hdcp 2.2 as it is reported that the standard HDMI ports work fine and most devices are built backwards compatible not forwards compatible.

  • Hal-Nacho Loser

    So… I have a Terrible doubt HTPC with ITX: How Wireless remote control. How discovering if the motherboard wake up when I use one of this?