Thursday, July 14, 2016

How to Build the Best HTPC Media Centre at the Right Price

With DVDs phasing out and the rapid growth in online media more and more people are looking to build a HTPC media centre for their living rooms. Good systems are difficult to build and there are many considerations to make when choosing your components.There are three main considerations to make when designing your system.

Price vs Performance

To many it makes sense to buy top of the range computer components to build their media centre. They want a system that is going to last and rarely need an upgrade. Unfortunately this is not a cost efficient way to build a system and you will be paying far more than you need to. The home computing market is ever changing and as new technologies come out prices fall on the older kit. Buy the top of the range processor today and in 12 months it will be half the price. To get the cost efficient build you must first decide what it is you want your media centre to do. Is it to simply watch movies and video content or do you want high end gaming? When you have decided this, source the minimum specification hardware that will carry out the task. If your system is for gaming is an Intel I7 processor required or will the I5 suffice? With all this said you do not want to degrade performance taking the cheaper option. Yes the Intel I5 processor may run the games you want to play but can it achieve the resolutions that you want and will the gameplay be jumpy? People worry too much about future proofing their systems but prices fall so dramatically it is more often than not better to upgrade every 18 months or so and save on hardware costs.

Aesthetics & Size

When it comes to aesthetics you need to remember that your HTPC media centre will be placed in the prime spot of your living room in full view so you don't want a case that looks like a PC. With the recent boom in home media there is now a whole range of HTPC cases available that look more like games consoles or home entertainment systems and at quite reasonable prices. The important thing to remember when choosing a case is to ensure that your components will fit! It sounds simple but getting the right case is one of the toughest tasks with most HTPC builds. The more compact cases are often the most attractive but if your system is for high end gaming you will struggle to find a compact case that can house the high end graphics cards. Decide on your components first and then select a case to accommodate them.

Heat and Energy Efficiency

High end processors and gaming graphics cards more often than not produce a lot of heat. Heat is more of an issue when you select a tight compact case. When choosing your case ensure that it has the ventilation required to accommodate the heat production of all of your components. If it will not then check that you have space to install additional cooling devices. (Word of warning: cooling devices are generally noisy and may interfere with your movie enjoyment). You can also combat heat by using energy efficient components. As a rule of thumb smaller components tend to be more energy efficient. Even if your case supports ATX form factor motherboards go for mini-ITX or mini-ATX as these motherboards are far more energy efficient. The added benefit of building with energy efficiency in mind is that your system will have a lower running cost.

Getting your HTPC media centre right is a tough task and one that requires careful consideration. Following the above will get your design right and produce the entertainment system you need at the right price. These are the golden rules for building the optimum HTPC media centre.

For hints, tips and expert guides for building HTPC media centres visit us at Home Media Portal.

We provide full reviews of the latest products and components for your media centres and show you where too find the very best prices. We also review some of the latest software out there including Kodi and Hyperspin and help you get the most out of each package.

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