At the time of this article’s publication, there is a significant shortage of electronic device components. Besides material shortages, supply chains have also been strained. So, building an HTPC was a little more difficult than usual. Some parts took longer to get than others, but overall, I’m still happy with my pick. I left room for potential upgrades.

My Pick

The goal was to have a price to performance build that would be low power and sleekly fit within my home theater setup.

CaseDr Zaber Sentry 2.0Console-sized gaming PC case (Mini ITX)
CPUAMD Ryzen 5AMD RYZEN 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7 GHz (4.2 GHz Max Boost) Socket AM4 65W YD3400C5FHBOX Desktop Processor
CPU CoolerNoctua ChromaxNoctua NH-L9a-AM4, Low-Profile CPU Cooler for AMD AM4 (Black)
MemoryHyper X PredatorHyperX Predator 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 3200 RAM (Desktop Memory) CL16 XMP Black DIMM (288-Pin) HX432C16PB3K2/32
MotherboardROG Strix x570-I GamingASUS ROG Strix X570-I Gaming AM4 AMD X570 SATA 6Gb/s Mini ITX AMD Motherboard
StorageSamsung 850 Evo SSDSAMSUNG 850 EVO 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-75E250B/AM)
Power SupplyCorsair SF600CORSAIR SF Series SF600 CP-9020182-NA 600W SFX 80 PLUS PLATINUM Certified Full Modular Power Supply
Sentry 2.0 AMD APU HTPC Build

The black object in the top left is my iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit.

iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit

And the glove box behind it is the Raven Black Nitrile disposable work gloves. These gloves are useful for all kinds of things around the house.

The Decision Between Intel and AMD

AMD has become a lot more competitive as Intel has rested on its laurels for far too long. My decision on which platform to build on depended on TDP (wattage), price, and performance. Here are the builds I was settling on:

CPUIntel Core i7-8700K 6 Core 4.7GHz Turbo Unlocked LGA1151 300 Series 95WAMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8 Core Unlocked CPU
CPU CoolerNoctua NH-L9i Chromax Black Low Profile CPU Cooler for Intel LGA 115XNoctua NH-L9a-AM4 Chromax Black Low Profile CPU Cooler for AMD AM4
MemoryHyperX Predator Black 32GB Kit 3200MHz DDR4 CL16 DIMM XMP MemoryHyperX Predator Black 32GB Kit 3200MHz DDR4 CL16 DIMM XMP Memory
MotherboardASUS ROG Strix Z390-I Gaming LGA1151 Mini ITXASUS ROG Strix X570-I Gaming Mini ITX
Graphics CardGigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 Mini ITX 8GGigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 Mini ITX 8G

Graphics cards are hard to get right now. The Mini ITX card listed above was sold out for far too long before I decided to choose an APU.

Other potential low profile cooling options:

I really like Noctua, even though their default brown color is insanely ugly. Luckily, they have black editions of their coolers, especially the low-profile CPU cooler I chose.

Weighing Available Options


Be sure to check processor compatibility before committing to make sure they are capable of playing media, transcoding media, or playing games. The performance may not be there or a necessary feature may be missing entirely.



Small Form Factor Cases

Why the Dr Zaber Sentry 2.0 case? I saw some coverage of the case while the Indigogo campaign was going on. I liked what I saw and went ahead and supported the campaign.

Sentry 2.0 Unboxing

Their website has a lot of great information. Here’s a link to their user manual for the case – Sentry 2.0 Manual.

Sentry 2.0 Instructions

Benchmarks With Dr Zaber Case

I looked at many tech YouTubers’ builds. One of my main concerns was with space and cooling. Here are the standout videos that helped form my decision on which parts to get and not get:

Other Small Cases

Evaluating Network Storage

A NAS, Network Attached Storage, is an important part of the build since it would be prohibitive, in both cost and case space, to have all of the storage locally. The NAS will not only store documents and computer backups but also media backups as well.

Synology NAS Options

QNAP NAS Options

Final Thoughts

So far so good. Let me know what you would like to see next on this topic. I will definitely put my pick through the wringer to see how it performs with media tasks. The HTPC topic is something I want to further explore in the future.