Best HTPC (Home Theater PC) of 2021 ft. 4K builds

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

WEPC Best home theatre PC Featured image 01

Sometimes the average user would just like a nice small form factor computer 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
Best All-Rounder Home Theater PC
An HTPC That Comes With Everything You Need
02
Best Apple OS HTPC
A Mac Home Theatre System With Solid Processing Power And Fast RAM
03
Best Mid-Range HTPC
The Most Compact HTPC Here With Affordable, Mid-Range Performance

First Look: The 5 Best HTPC Systems

01
Best All-Rounder Home Theater PC
An HTPC That Comes With Everything You Need
Intel NUC8 NUC8i7HVK

Intel NUC8 NUC8i7HVK

0 /5
Editor's Rating

The striking looking Intel NUC8 NUC8i7HVK is one of the most powerful HTPCs you can buy, with great graphics card performance, a large selection of ports, VR compatibility and a quiet fan volume.

The Intel NUC8 NUC8i7HVK is a pricey item, no doubt about it, but for that money you get most of the features you could realistically expect in an HTPC.

It has a great selection of ports, a VESA mounting plate, is VR ready and runs quietly. It also has by far the best gaming performance of any HTPC here on this list.

The slight downside of this is it’s larger than the other examples listed here, so just make sure its the right size for you.

02
Best Apple OS HTPC
A Mac Home Theatre System With Solid Processing Power And Fast RAM
Apple Mac mini

Apple Mac mini

0 /5
Editor's Rating

The Apple Mac mini is a great little compact device, with powerful CPU performance, low heat output, fast RAM, and a great selection of ports.

The Apple Mac minis is another quality build Apple product, though its price tag reflects this. Although you won’t get the same power as with the Intel NUC8 NUC8i7HVK, particularly when playing GPU heavy games, it still has a very respectable CPU and onboard graphics.

The machine comes with powerful RAM that can be upgraded to 64GB, a great selection of I/O ports, and also runs surprisingly cool.

03
Best Mid-Range HTPC
The Most Compact HTPC Here With Affordable, Mid-Range Performance
AWOW Mini PC

AWOW NYi3 Mini PC

0 /5
Editor's Rating

The AWOW NYi3 Mini PC offers solid performance on non-gaming tasks, with some minor gaming support, at an affordable price. It is the most compact HTPC on this list and comes with its own mounting bracket.

This middle-range HTPC may not have the power to play anything beyond the most undemanding of games, but it can still display two 4K screens at the same time – an impressive accomplishment for what is the smallest HTPC you will find here, at a very reasonable price.

The device even comes with its own mounting bracket, adding to its value.

04
Best Budget HTPC
A 4K Capable Budget HTPC
ACEPC AK2 Mini PC

ACEPC AK2 Mini PC

0 /5
Editor's Rating

The ACEPC AK2 Mini PC is a nice and compact HTPC that has 4K capability for those on a tight budget.

The small-sized ACEPC AK2 Mini PC is the best budget option available if you’re looking for a machine that can still support 4K screens.

For what you pay for it, it comes with a decent speed of RAM and a solid 120GB SSD.

As long as you don’t expect to be able to perform more demanding multi-tasking or games, this is a solid choice.

05
Best Alternative Budget HTPC
A Low-End, Very Compact HTPC At A Great Price
Minis Forum Mini PC

Minis Forum Mini PC

0 /5
Editor's Rating

The Minis Forum Mini PC is a very small-sized HTPC ideal for those who only need basic functionality at an affordable price.

A very stripped-back HTPC for those who only need basic functionality, the Minis Forum Mini PC nevertheless offers great value for this price point.

The machine comes with its own mounting bracket, adding to the value, and is the second-smallest device on this list.

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 its self on being able to handle some impressive titles while the others can get buy on various games if required.

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 For 2020 & 2021

01
Best All-Rounder Home Theater PC
Intel NUC8 NUC8i7HVK
INTEL

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

02
Best Apple OS HTPC
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

03
Best Mid-Range HTPC
AWOW Mini PC

AWOW NYi3 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

04
Best 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

05
Best Alternative Budget HTPC
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

In-depth Review

01
Best All-Rounder Home Theater PC
Intel NUC8 NUC8i7HVK
INTEL

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

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
Best Apple OS HTPC
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

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
Best Mid-Range HTPC
AWOW Mini PC

AWOW NYi3 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

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
Best 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

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
Best Alternative Budget HTPC
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

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.

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

Content Creator
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.

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