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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.