What specs to look for building HTPC for 4K

Hi guys,

So a friend asked me to help him build a PC. Its absolutely not for gaming, strictly a multimedia PC: 4K movies and the best audio equipment a +/- 1000 dollar budget can buy (there is room for more though, with an absolute maximum of 1500 dollars).

If somebody can point me in the right direction of what specs a graphics card should have for example, I would be more then gratefull, or if you built one recently I would love to hear what parts you used.

Thanks in advance guys.

You can build an HTPC basically from trash, you just need something with hardware decoding to get it where you want.

CPU: anything cheap will do really, maybe the cheap Pentium thingy (G4560 or whatever it was?).
GPU: anything with H.265 decoding, no need for anything powerful, the cheapest you can get. This means RX400+, or GeForce 10. GeForce 9 has some supported cards, depending on the model and driver. Note: If you get a Kaby Lake CPU you don’t need a GPU for this since it has H.265 hardware decoding.

Audio Equipment no idea, but usually it’s recommended to just pass the audio to an external A/V receiver via HDMI (TOSlink is only 5.1 afaik, HDMI has more channels and theoretically Dolby Atmos iirc).


A g4600 or 4620, a UHD blu ray drive, a MoBo with surround support, a boot SSD and the best networking you can afford. that’s literally all you need.

the pentium G4600 and up has hardware h.265 sufficient for 4k30

I’m about to post an optimal build in the purpose built megathread.

Right Size Right Price Solutions With Your Resident Sarcastic Skeleton

I would actually go with a dedicated GPU and a lesser CPU.
The cheapest GXXXXT (low power, turn off iGPU) celeron or pentium plus a big ass heatsink and an SSD. Throw a passive RX460/550/560 into the mix and get a highly efficient PSU where the fan will never turn on. Voila, completely passive system.


g4600 = $80

cheapest viable new cpu you can find + GT 1030 or RX 550 = more than that.

adding a GPU also limits your form factor options

I wasn’t trying to give a cheaper alternative. That is just simply what I would do. I actually had plans to do something like that and bought a XFX RX460 passive. I just don’t like iGPU.

Form factor… yeah, sure, it gets a bit bigger in volume. I still would go dedicated.

I’ve done tests. You can go way over any commercial format’s bitrate at 4k HEVC on the g4600 with absolutely no issues. The onboard decoder on kabylakes with iris 630+ are more than enough, even for 10 bit color.

Skylake is ok with 8 bit, but that’s the last gen a dedicated HTPC GPU was even approaching necessary.


I am not saying my approach is rational. But it is what I would do.

I was actually looking at the same, but that is mostly because I’d re-purpose my current 1090T build as the media centre and so I basically need something that can hardware decode. If I were to buy new I’d just go with the Pentium too, because even though I don’t like intel all that much it’s cheap and does what is needed.

Thanks for all the input guys :smiley: … Processing information … :stuck_out_tongue: