Google Chromecast and other fancy dongles are practical and easy to use, but a computers for home theater systems is still the best way for controlling your home theater system. Home theater computer can download, organize and play your movies and songs and serve as a perfect substitute for DVR and digital cable box. Many people simply connect their computer to a big screen TV, but if you want to make your system even more practical and personalized, you should definitely build a custom home theater PC combo.

Computers for Home Theater Systems

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Contrary to popular belief, computers for home theater systems doesn’t need to be too powerful in terms of memory or computation. Using a two or three-year-old processor or hard disk can work just fine with most home theater systems. On the other hand, computers for home theater systems need to be:

  • Small– So it can fit your home theater cabinet;
  • Quiet– So it doesn’t create annoying sounds;
  • Power efficient– So it doesn’t shut down in crucial point of the movie;

Computers for Home Theater Systems Basic Hardware

Home theater computer combos should include all of the following parts:

  • Processor (preferably dual core or quad core) with integrated graphics;
  • Motherboard;
  • At least 4GB of RAM memory;
  • Special home theater PC plastic or aluminum case;
  • 500W power supply unit;
  • Hard disk drive, with at least 1 TB of storage space.

You can also acquire some extra parts. If you want to watch Blu-Ray discs and DVDs you will need a drive that is able to read these types of media. All these components together will cost you less than $500, but you will need some engineering knowledge to assemble it in a proper way. An alternative to building your own HTPC is hiring professionals to build your Universal Home Theater, from computers and screens to seats and popcorn machines.

TV Tuner

You should also get TV tuner or video capture card, since this hardware enables your HTPC to take, decode, play and record television signal. These tuners are similar to old TV cards, and there are several manufacturers and models you can choose from. You should install TV tuner in a separate slot inside your home theater computer. If you are using a lap top for this purpose, you can also buy special tuners with USB connection, like WinTV HVR-950Q. These tuners usually come with a remote control and they are great for satellite TV, but you might have trouble with decoding the cable signal.

Most cable companies broadcast signals that can only be decrypted by their own cable boxes. Luckily, TV tuner manufacturers, like Hauppauge, developed cable signal interceptors, in the form of convenient USB boxes. They intercept the signal from cable boxes and stream it to your computer. Some of these boxy gadgets also include infrared blasters that allow users to control the cable box decryption directly from the computer. If all this sounds too complicated you can always get a more expensive TV card, like InfiniTV 6 which can autonomously decrypt the cable signal.


The home theater PC combo also requires adequate software that you will use for browsing and playing videos and songs. Regular media players like WMP or VLC are great for this purpose, but when it comes to HTPC you will need to create a single front-end interface that can work with the USB remote control. Most people who use Windows machines opt for Windows Media Center that satisfies all these criteria and includes DVR functionality along with a great programming guide. While Windows 7 and Vista come with pre-installed WMC, newer versions of this OS (Win 8.1 and 10) require you to purchase this app separately.

Buying parts and assembling the home theater computer yourself is a great way to save some money. It also represents a great DIY exercise that will teach you how to diagnose future HTPC issues and solve them without calling customer support or hiring technicians.

AAlex Williamsuthor Bio: My name is Alex Williams, born and raised in beautiful Sydney. I am a journalism graduate, and a rookie blogger trying to find my luck. Blogs are the perfect opportunity for presenting yourself to wider audience, getting the chance to showcase my expertise and receiving recognition. I am a regular contributor at BizzMark Blog. For this article I consulted Universal Home Theater.