Having a HTPC will change the way you watch movies or play games, setting one up is easier than ever but be warned once you get the bug it can prove to be an expensive hobby.

Imagine settling down in your lounge with all your games, music, movies and TV series at your fingertips, no more rooting around looking for discs, no more scratched media.

This is the golden ticket to home entertainment.

What is a HTPC

A Home Theater Personal Computer (HTPC) is a PC that plugs into your TV or AV receiver and is used to serve up content (music movies etc) at the touch of a button.

My HTPC

After a few years of dipping my finger in the HTPC pool I finally decided to spend some cash (actually a lot!) and build what I think is a great HTPC, the criteria I wanted to hit for my build where as follows:-

  • Quite - this PC is going in my lounge and I do't won't anything sounding like a demented hair dryer screaming in the corner
  • Expandable - storage is everything in a HTPC my build needed the ability to add more hard drive space as my collection grows and newer hard drive technology becomes available
  • Games - must be able to act as a gaming PC
  • Plex - the HTPC will act as my PLEX server
  • Re-use existing parts - I've been building my own gaming PCs for years so had a large collection of bits I could re-utilize

The parts list

So with this in mind I took stock of what I had at home and did some shopping and ended up using the following components for the build.

The Awesome R5
  • MSI AMD AM4 B350M Bazooka motherboard
  • Ryzen 1800x CPU
  • MSI GeForce GTX 1070 AERO 8G OC graphics card
  • Corsair CMK16GX4M1A2400C14 Vengeance LPX 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) memory
  • Fractal Design Define R5 White Gaming PC Case
  • 4 older 4tb hard drives
  • 2 10tb ironwolf hard drives
  • 2 10tb WD red hard drives
  • 256gb SSD
  • 512GGB SSD
  • 8 port PCIE sata card
  • Dark Rock Pro cooler

Since putting this together the cost of the Ryzen cpu has dropped massively and it's a total bargain now.

I'll not bore you with the details of how to build this and there are plenty of guides on the internet.

The Define R5 is a truly amazing case, I've been a huge fan of Fractal Design PC cases for many years and newer model doesn't disappoint, its quite roomy without being massive and can hold eight hard drives comfortably.

Some reviews of the case can be found below

overclockers.com

kitguru.net

techpowerup.com

Software

So you now have a monster PC and want to make it into a an awesome movie machine you'll need some software to get up and running.

  • Makemkv - allows ripping of blu ray and 4k discs
  • Handbrake - compression software for movies
  • Plex - server software that allows playback of movies
  • Kodi with DS player - movie player (with 4k HDR support)
  • MadVr - required for HDR support
  • Stablebit drive pool - allows hared drives to be "merged" into one with duplication of data

Ripping Blu rays

Having to go rooting through cases looking for a disc is a pain let alone waiting for it to load having, stupid animated menus and piracy warnings all make playing physical media painful, that's why I rip all my discs and store the movies digitally.

For this you'll need MakeMKV (https://www.makemkv.com), it's currently free, the unlock key changes ever month but is publicly available while the programme is in beta, the key can be found here.

To rip a blu-ray or DVD follow the steps below

Step one
Open MakeMKV and insert your disc to be ripped, then click the image of drive.
Step two
MakeMKV will now spend some time reading your disc...
Step three
The contents of the disc will be displayed, select the location you want to save the output to (blue arrow), highlight the title form the disc you want to save (yellow arrow) and finally click the MakeMKV button (Red arrow)
Step four
Expand the title you wish to rip and ensure that the audio and subtitle tracks are selected. You’ll want to check the subtitle’s in this section because movies will often contain subtitles now to show locations or when someone is speaking in a foreign language. (yellow arrow)
Step five
Select the folder you wish to save the output to (blue arrow)
Step six
Click the MakeMKV button (red arrow)
Step seven
Sit back and relax while the disc is ripped.
Step eight
Your film is now ripped.

More coming soon