Best HTPC (Home Theater PC) 2022: including HTPC 4K builds

We Go Through The Best HTPCs On The Market For Each Price Point

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Sometimes the average user would just like a nice small form factor prebuilt PC to run in the lounge and not interfere with how the room looks, enter the HTPC. A home theatre PC isn’t that different from a smart TV however it is a lot more powerful and gives you much more flexibility with what you can achieve in your home theatre. These mini PCs can be mounted to TV’s and gaming monitors and can be kept completely hidden whilst giving you extra entertainment options in your home.

An HTPC will allow you to browse the web, watch movies, and in some cases even play some pretty impressive game titles too! It is no secret that over the last few years HTPCs have become smaller in size and price, making them a more attractive option.

HTPCs vary in terms of performance and cost so it is important to know what your needs may be. A higher-end HTPC will handle your day to day tasks and entertainment with no issues. These types of HTPCs will also feature a powerful CPU with integrated graphics that can handle a range of games with fast storage solutions to back it up.

Lower-end HTPCs may not feature the most powerful CPUs, with many sometimes struggling with games and even multi-tasking. Despite this, less powerful HTPCs can still handle 4K viewing and with the low-cost factoring in make a great little entertainment unit for the home.

Our Top Picks

01
WePC Awards Best In Class
An HTPC That Comes With Everything You Need
02
A Mac Home Theatre System With Solid Processing Power And Fast RAM
03
The Most Compact HTPC Here With Affordable, Mid-Range Performance

How We Choose

The most important component of your HTPC is the CPU and to cut down on size factors they usually utilize the onboard integrated graphics.

The majority of HTPCs are not designed with gaming in mind however our top pick champions itself on being able to handle some impressive titles while the others can get buy on various games if required.

We always recommend you build your own PC but all of these HTPCs will be a great addition to the living room or even office with some great workstation potential in this list. We have made sure all of the selections support 4K viewing and give you the option of Wi-Fi or ethernet internet connection.

Things You Should Check Before Buying a HTPC

HTPCs offer a unique solution to computer users. They’re light, compact, and can pack a punch.

Unlike barebone PCs, an HTPC comes prebuilt and in many cases give you options to upgrade RAM and storage size. These upgrades can be costly but they do add a bit of flexibility to the machines.

Processor (CPU)

A lot of the time HTPCs don’t feature the latest CPU’s and in many cases they have a mobile CPU installed. This doesn’t mean they aren’t fast though and it is worth knowing exactly what you plan to use your new HTPC for.

If you are looking to use this for everything from browsing the web to gaming then you are looking at an increase in your costs. For those looking at just using this as a little Microsoft Office PC or to watch some movies then you probably won’t need an overly powered chip to achieve this.

HTPCs are the smallest form factor PCs going and will save you insane amounts of room. They often come VESA mountable or with a mounting bracket as standard giving you the option to attach these to the back of televisions and gaming monitors.

HTPCs will never replace gaming PCs but they are very portable and can be taken with you on holiday without taking up any room.

Size and Weight

Fairly self-explanatory – although HTPCs are generally portable, some are most so than others so you should pay attention to the dimensions and the weight when thinking about how easily you’ll be able to carry one around before you buy it.

Connectivity

You’ll also need to pay attention to the I/O (input and output) ports included on the model you buy since it can vary greatly. Most HTPCs should have some (if not all) of the following:

  • Mic and headphone jack
  • USB port
  • USB-C port
  • LAN port
  • HDMI/DisplayPort
  • VESA mount

The 5 Best HTPC Systems 2022

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In-depth Review

01
An HTPC That Comes With Everything You Need
WePC Awards Best In Class
INTEL

Intel NUC8 NUC8i7HVK

Intel NUC8 NUC8i7HVK

CPU / GPU

Intel Core i7-8809G / Radeon RX Vega M GH

Dimensions (L x W x H)

10.8 x 7.8 x 4.8 inches

Editor's Rating
4.9/5
Pros

VR ready

Silent

Powerful processing power

Excellent graphics card performance

Has a lot of I/O ports

Includes a VESA mounting plate

Cons

Expensive

Less compact than others

An all-rounder barebones gaming PC like the Intel NUC8 NUC8i7HVK could be considered ideal for most gamers needs in the mini-PC realm. This smaller form factor PC packs a powerful punch and has one of the more interesting designs on the list with a glowing skull on top of the case.

Looking at the connectivity department, you have the following:

  • 3x USB 3.1 (Gen2)
  • Type-C ports (two at the rear and one on the front), two of which support Thunderbolt 3
  • 2x mini-DisplayPort 1.2 output
  • Can support up to 6x displays with excellent expansion

This NUC (Next Unit of Computing) model is also loaded with a Core i7-8809G processor on top of having a decent Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics card. That’s more than enough to handle AAA titles and even VR!

Its compact size and design make it ideal in the living room and small spaces. Out of the box, it comes with the power adapter and VESA plate. This means you can hook this to the back of the monitor or television to give the appearance of a smart TV/ no wire setup.

The performance from this HTPC is very surprising but with its high price tag makes sure you plan on playing games with this otherwise it could be a bit overkill.

02
A Mac Home Theatre System With Solid Processing Power And Fast RAM

Apple Mac mini

Apple Mac mini

CPU / GPU

Intel 6-core i5 / Intel UHD graphics 630

Dimensions (L x W x H)

7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches

Editor's Rating
4.8/5
Pros

Powerful processing power

Low profile

Great thermal performance

Has a lot of I/O ports

Quick DDR4 RAM

Cons

Particularly Expensive

This mini Mac from Apple is a brilliant little device.  The 8th Gen CPU paired with the Intel UHD graphics makes light work of tasks and is a seriously good option for an all-around home theatre “PC”. However, as with all Apple products, you do pay extra than you would with a Windows device relative to the amount of actual power you get, purely to use the Mac OS.

The space grey case is something we are all familiar with but it is its simplicity that makes this so elegant in its design.

Looking at the connectivity department, you have the following:

  • 2 x USB 3 ports
  • 4 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0

This Mac mini has more than enough power for industrial grade tasks and the CPU can be overclocked to a whopping 4.6GHz. The RAM is adequate for some rendering tasks but what’s great about this is the fact you can install up to 64GB if required.

Not only does this HTPC feature a compact form factor but it is incredibly low profile at just 1.4 inches in height making it ideal for the living room or tight office space. This features 256GB of SSD storage which can be upgraded to as much as 2TB which is more than enough to store your media files.

You are getting Thunderbolt 3 technology with this mini MAC and the ability to run 2 x 4K displays at once which offers great flexibility. A great little machine.

03
The Most Compact HTPC Here With Affordable, Mid-Range Performance

AWOW NYi3 Mini PC

AWOW Mini PC

CPU / GPU

Intel Broadwell i3-5005U/ Intel HD Graphics 5500

Dimensions (L x W x H)

4.8 x 4.3 x 1.6 inches

Editor's Rating
4.7/5
Pros

Can run applications, entertainment and even some games smoothly.

Palm-sized

Fast and reliable

Affordable

Comes with a mounting bracket

Cons

Not the most powerful of components

The NYi3 Mini PC from AWOW offers something quite surprising for such a small computer. The power is good enough to keep your home theatre running smoothly with ample memory and a fast storage solution. This unexpectedly can run certain games (albeit in low graphics) and makes light work of general computing tasks.

The design is pretty plain but seeing as it’s designed to be tucked away it isn’t exactly a bad thing. Indeed the AWOW NYi3 Mini PC is the smallest HTPC on this list.

Looking at the connectivity department, you have the following:

  • 2 x USB 2 ports
  • 2 x HDMI ports
  • 1 x DCIN port
  • 1 x USB-C port

This mini PC is really responsive and that is down to the reasonable i3 CPU paired with the 8GB of RAM. If that wasn’t enough this HTPC features an M.2 storage solution making this ideal as a small workstation also.

This little barebones PC can also display in two 4K displays at once which isn’t too bad from such a small machine.

This can be mounted with ease on the back of a monitor and will be easily hidden if you look to use it as part of your home theatre setup in the living room.  A solid and affordable option from AWOW that’s worth picking up.

04
A 4K Capable Budget HTPC

ACEPC AK2 Mini PC

ACEPC AK2 Mini PC

CPU / GPU

Intel Celeron J3455/ Intel HD Graphics 500

Dimensions (L x W x H)

5.5 x 5.5 x 1.85 inches

Editor's Rating
4.6/5
Pros

8GB RAM +120GB mSATA SSD

Cheap

Small

Capable of 4K at a budget price

Cons

Weaker components

Not the best for multi-tasking

Not suitable for gaming

The ACEPC AK2 mini PC features a quad-core Intel Celeron J3455 which reaches speeds of 2.3 GHz. The processor is joined with some integrated graphics and all though it’s not the best for multi-tasking, the Intel HD 500 does well enough for your everyday tasks and is capable of running a single 4K screen.

Within the small form factor case, there is 8GB of RAM and a 120GB M.2 storage solution giving you enough to make light work of your work and entertainment.

The design is quite sleek with some nice LEDs to show you the machine is switched on and interesting vents around the outside.

Looking at the connectivity department, you have the following:

  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x HDMI ports

This little machine can, of course, be mounted making it ideal as a home theatre PC that can be easily hidden. Like the other PC’s this comes with windows 10 pre-installed meaning it is ready to go out of the box.

This may not be the most powerful on the list but it is a reliable little PC and with a small price to go with it, it is certainly worth considering.

05
A Low-End, Very Compact HTPC At A Great Price

Minis Forum Mini PC

Minis Forum Mini PC

CPU / GPU

Intel Celeron J3160/ Intel HD Graphics 400

Dimensions (L x W x H)

4.7 x 4.7 x 1.4 inches

Editor's Rating
4.4/5
Pros

Cheap

Palm sized

Reliable

Comes with a mounting bracket

Cons

Weaker components

Not the best for multi-tasking

Not suitable for gaming

This HTPC from Minis Forum has the lowest profile and price on the list and has the weakest components, but for budget use its no slouch. The CPU can run up to 2.24GHz and when paired with the SSD storage still offers fast loading times for mundane tasks. The chip features onboard Intel HD 400 graphics which will play few games but is still great for entertainment and day-to-day uses, though be advised it may struggle to support a 4K screen.

The design is basic with a brush aluminum effect on the top but the case is the second smallest on the list-making this really easy to tuck away.

Looking at the connectivity department, you have the following:

  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x HDMI port
  • 1 x VGA port

This little machine can be mounted with the included bracket making it ideal for the home theatre.

The incredibly low price makes this little portable PC a great budget option.

Is HTPC Dead?

There are many that would declare that the HTPC format is dead as a doornail, and for them, that’s probably true. Chances are they canned their aging HTPC long before now in favor of a dedicated gaming build and Smart TV. But as long as an HTPC holds a steady place in your media center, it’s never really dead.

What’s more, companies are still producing them in the thousands, so somebody must be buying them. These dominant institutions are far too shrewd from a business standpoint to continue making something that is by and large obsolete.

Granted, HTPC’s position in the market is shrinking due to affordable streaming devices and the rise of the Smart TV, but there’s still nothing out there that really does what it does. In light of this, even if companies halted HTPC production, with nothing to completely fill their shoes, their decline would be a very gradual process.

What Is an HTPC Used For?

HTPC stands for Home Theater PC. Often referred to as living room computers, they’re a household’s quiet, wireless, one-stop entertainment system used to store and play music and videos, display user photos, and to a certain extent, play games.

Used in place of dedicated DVD and Blu-ray players, an HTPC is often a tasteful and compact way of imbuing your living room with all the tech you need to kick back and have a good time without loading TV cabinets full of separate hardware.

If an HTPC is fitted with a TV card, it can even record and playback cable TV shows, although, you can get all the entertainment you need from the internet alone these days, so it’s a rare appointment.

If you’re still a little confused about what exactly an HTPC is, you can think of it as an incredibly advanced Smart TV. It brings the full functionality of a standard computer to a shared zone of a living space

Do I Need a GPU for HTPC?

You will need some sort of video card in your HTPC, but it doesn’t have to be the all-singing-all-dancing mega GPU that everyone wants in their dedicated gaming rigs.

If you’re not planning on doing any gaming on your HTPC, something as light as an integrated Intel GPU will be just the ticket. If you do plan on spinning some of your favorite titles when the mood takes you, you will need a discrete graphics card, but again, it doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest.

People often build HTPCs with spare components from older builds. They’re not supposed to be high-powered gaming PCs, so you can opt for an entry-level GPU and save some pennies.

We’d recommend something along the lines of the AMD RX 480, or if you’re team Nvidia, the GTX 1060. Whatever you pick, it needs to be nice and quiet. An obnoxiously loud GPU in an HTPC is the equivalent of that person who won’t shut their trap when you’re trying to watch a movie.

How Much RAM Does an HTPC Need?

8GB RAM is widely considered to be the sweet spot for an HTPC. It’s the base requirement for some quality modern gaming in 1080p, and it smooths out general usage, keeping lag and loading times to a minimum.

Even if you have grandiose plans of hooking your HTPC up to a breath-taking 4K monitor, 2 x 4GB or a single 8GB stick of RAM should be plenty to keep everything running in a silken manner. Having said that, if you want a super speedy system, 16GB RAM is probably more to your tastes.

Final Word

There you have it! These HTPCs (and one Mac) cover various needs in the home theatre area, however, it could be worth your time and money investing in a new PC build instead seeing as you do get plenty more bang for your buck.

Any questions on our selections or if you think your HTPC should have made this list, then please comment below.

The Author Who Worked On This Article

Product Specialist - Gaming PC, Prebuilt Gaming PC, GPUs, CPUs,
at
WePC
Shaun is a gaming enthusiast and computer science graduate who has been working with computers for the last 15 years. He took a shine to competitive FPS back in the mid-2000s and hasn’t looked back since.

Independent, transparent, rigorous and authentic, our reviews are the most thorough and honest in PC gaming. Learn about our review process.

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