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.
Table of Contents
The goal was to have a price to performance build that would be low power and sleekly fit within my home theater setup.
|Case||Dr Zaber Sentry 2.0||Console-sized gaming PC case (Mini ITX)|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 5||AMD RYZEN 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7 GHz (4.2 GHz Max Boost) Socket AM4 65W YD3400C5FHBOX Desktop Processor|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua Chromax||Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 chromax.black, Low-Profile CPU Cooler for AMD AM4 (Black)|
|Memory||Hyper X Predator||HyperX Predator 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 3200 RAM (Desktop Memory) CL16 XMP Black DIMM (288-Pin) HX432C16PB3K2/32|
|Motherboard||ROG Strix x570-I Gaming||ASUS ROG Strix X570-I Gaming AM4 AMD X570 SATA 6Gb/s Mini ITX AMD Motherboard|
|Storage||Samsung 850 Evo SSD||SAMSUNG 850 EVO 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-75E250B/AM)|
|Power Supply||Corsair SF600||CORSAIR SF Series SF600 CP-9020182-NA 600W SFX 80 PLUS PLATINUM Certified Full Modular Power Supply|
The black object in the top left is my 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:
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:
- Noctua NF-A12x15 PWM Premium Quiet Slim 4-Pin Fan
- Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 Premium Low Profile CPU Cooler for AMD AM4
- Noctua NM-AM4-L9aL9i Mounting Kit for Noctua NH-L9a and NH-L9i on AMD AM4
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.
- ASUS ROG Strix X570-I Gaming, X570 mini-ITX Gaming motherboard, AMD, AM4, Ryzen 3000 with PCIe 4.0, on-board WiFi 6 (802.11ax), Intel Gigabit Ethernet, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort
- Gigabyte X570 I AORUS Pro WiFi (AMD Ryzen 3000/X570/Mini-Itx/PCIe4.0/DDR4/USB 3.1/Realtek ALC1220-Vb/DisplayPort 1.4/2xHDMI 2.0B/RGB Fusion 2.0/Gaming Motherboard)
- GIGABYTE GA-AB350N-Gaming WIFI (AMD/Ryzen AM4/B350/RGB Fusion/HDMI/DP/M.2/SATA/USB 3.1 Type-A/Wifi/Mini ITX/DDR4 Motherboard)
- ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 Mini ITX Thunderbolt 3 AMD Motherboard Model X570 Phantom GAM ITX
- MSI Performance Gaming AMD Ryzen 1st and 2nd Gen AM4 M.2 USB 3 DDR4 HDMI Display Port Mini-ITX Motherboard (B450I Gaming Plus AC)
DOES NOT FIT IN DR ZABER SENTRY 2.0 CASE
- Asus ROG (X570) Crosshair VIII Impact, AMD, AM4, Ryzen 3000, (Mini-DTX) SFF Gaming Motherboard with PCIe 4.0, on-Board WiFi 6 (802.11Ax), Intel LAN, SATA 6GB/s, USB 3.2 Gen 2, SO-DIMM.2 and Aura Sync
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.
Their website has a lot of great information. Here’s a link to their user manual for the case – Sentry 2.0 Manual.
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:
- Wendel L1T Build – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Y7JPJeYjtc
- Wendel Update Build – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIsv-Efv_Hs
- Optimum Tech Intro – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LEmbXYB8-Q
- Optimum Tech Cooling – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJDL1I3xTzA
- Linus Tech Tips – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzcrTmhOP2s
- Paul’s Hardware – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Bw-bTVS8NM
- Paul’s Hardware Update – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIYYh6YMB44
- Craft Computing – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjXoNzTIyJg
- Bitwit – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t6mwAxeA3Q
- RandomFrankP – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C93TyNdlPU
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
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.