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Best Budget HTPC build 2015 under 800 dollars (April)

This HTPC configuration (Home Theater PC) is mainly dedicated to Home Cinema and should be the perfect addition to any living room. This configuration allows you to watch and record television, play DVD and Blu-rays, listen to music (CD, MP3…), but can of course also be used as a classic PC: word processing, photos or video games (although a video card is required for recent 3D games.)

This HTPC is encased in a high-end desktop case, fit for powerful components (including a video card) while performing very silently (a must for a living-room setup). Some of the high-end elements presented here are optional; one can perfectly build an HTPC setup for about 800 dollars..

The total cost of the configuration can vary according to the dealer and the time of purchase: clicking on a link will open a new page with the product details.

Motherboard: ASUS B85M-E (Price: $83)

Conceived to host the 4th generation Haswell Intel Core, the micro-ATX Asrock B85M-E chipset Intel B85M-E motherboard supports the latest USB 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s and PCI-Express 3.0 16x norms at an affordable price.

Processor: Intel Core i3-4130 (Price: $120)

The Core i3 Haswell processors are high-performance and suitable for every use, at a great value. They offer an embedded Intel Graphics 4400 chip that can replace a dedicated video card, the perfect solution for a media center PC or a HTPC. However, this setup is not powerful enough for 3D games – you will have to add a real 3D video card to it (the case and the motherboard allow that). A Pentium Haswell like the G3220 is also an option. Though it is less powerful, it is also less expensive.

CPU Cooler: Master GeminII M4 (Price: $38)

The Intel cooler is good, but a cooler like the Master GeminII M4 offers better cooling performances, and most of all, silently, which is crucial for a living-room PC. This element is optional.

Memory Module Kit:  G.Skill 2x 2GB PC12800 (Price: $40)

The RAM offered by G.Skill, Corsair, Kingston, Crucial, OCZ etc. is of very good quality. 2 x 2 GB is enough for such a setup.

Graphics card (optional)

The processor offers graphics capabilities sufficient for 2D activities (word processing, photo, video…). The Intel HD Graphics 4400 can process HD video, but a more recent, real video card can do slightly better, limiting the artifacts during video playing, for example.

The case is large enough and the motherboard includes a PCI-E port allowing for the addition of a video card that can play recent 3D games, read our article for advices on the choice of a model.

Sound card (optional)

The motherboard comes with an on-board 5.1 sound chip, but it is possible to add a sound card to improve the sound quality if the HTPC is hooked to an external amplifier.

SSD (optional)

The price of SSD is pretty high, but their performances make them good candidates to install the Operating System and other programs. The biggest advantage, in the case of an HTPC, is the shorter time it takes to boot or wake up.

Hard Drive: Seagate 2TB 7200RPM (Price: $77)

The price of storage falling constantly, 2,000 Gb should allow you to store a huge number of videos and other files. Like the Seagate Barracuda, the Western Digital Caviar Black and Blue offer good performances at a competitive price, and they are rather quiet.

Writer / Blu Ray player: LG CH12NS30 ($195)

This crafty LG combo allows you to burn DVDs and play Blu-ray discs. You could of course opt for a DVD drive, like this one from Samsung for 17 dollars..

SilverStone Grandia GD05 Case (Price: $100)

This high-end desktop case is the perfect fit for an HTPC configuration. It is possible to add high-performance components, since they will be well-cooled by 3 lateral fans. You can add a XIGMATEK mono cool Rheobus to lower the speed of the fans easily and thus making the computer quieter. This is a rather compact case measuring 32.5cm in depth and 15cm in height.

SilverStone Strider Plus ST50F-P 500W (Price: $72)

Very good 500W power supply with an 80Plus Silver label (high power performance). It is quiet, reliable and offers a high level of protection for a very low price.

This USB dongle is optional. It allows you to watch digital TV on your PC.

AVerTV HD Volar Entertainment Pack A867R (optional)

This USB dongle is optional. It allows you to watch digital TV on your PC.

Keyboard: Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 (Price: $25)

This Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 is ideal to remotely use a PC connected to an HD TV via its HDMI output. It includes a trackpad that conveniently substitutes for a mouse.

A little higher-end, Logitech offers the diNovo Mini, a miniature system that allows you to control your HTPC by means of a real keyboard.

Operating system Windows 8 Pro 64bit OEM (optional)

Microsoft’s new Operating System is stable and powerful. The pro version contains all the features of the classic version of Windows 8 along with extended remote management, network and encryption features (useful for enterprises) and Media center. The classic version can be enough for players, especially since Media center can be bought for 10 Euros. The 64-bit version can manage more than 3Gb of memory and the OEM versions are offered for an attractive price. If you already own a valid XP/Vista/7 license, you can purchase an update toward Windows 8 Pro.

We chose Amazon for the quality of its service, its prices and the number of products offered. Some components can be different than those in the configuration below depending on their availability on Amazon, but they are close in terms of prince and performances. Keyboard, mouse, speakers and Operating System are to be added if needed.

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Gaming Laptops under 1000

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