Our midrange HTPC build is based around the Intel NUC. An Intel NUC HTPC is the perfect way to get the home theatre PC experience economically, without compromising on power. This tiny unit can play pretty much every multimedia format, supports XBMC, is capable of running Windows and uses barely any power.
Intel NUC HTPC Highlights
- Tiny 4″x4″ footprint
- 802.11 b/g/n/ac Dual Band Wifi
- Bluetooth for connecting other devices wirelessly
- USB 3.0 for fast media transfer
- Gigabit Ethernet for network streaming
- HDMI output
- Can run Windows or Linux
Features of the Intel NUC HTPC
Our budget Intel NUC HTPC is the near-silent HTPC for those on a budget. It is ideal for those whose want to watch videos, listen to music, view pictures and even play some games. Powered by Intel’s Core i3 processor, this tiny box is more than powerful enough to run XBMC smoothly and offer a solid media experience. The integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 is perfectly capable of light gaming, adding more functionality to an already feature-packed HTPC.
The 120GB SSD offers incredibly fast loading of content such as applications and fanart, whilst dramatically improving booting speeds. There is ample storage for recordings and some local media. However, the SSD can be replaced with a larger capacity drive for those wanting to store media locally.
We’ve only recommended 4GB of RAM to keep costs down as this is sufficient for media playback and gaming, however, the Intel NUC HTPC can be upgraded to 16GB of RAM if required.
The NUC also has USB 3.0 for fast media transfer, an integrated infra-red receiver to enable control using a remote and wireless and Bluetooth connectivity.
Supported Video Formats
Our budget Intel NUC HTPC is capable of playing almost anything you throw at it due to a combination of hardware decoding and strong CPU support as a backup.
Hi10p and frame-packed 3D media should be no issue for the Intel Core i3 processor.
Intel NUC HTPC Operating System (OS)
We recommend Windows 8.1 as your Operating System on your Intel NUC HTPC. This is predominantly because it offers greater potential to use the Intel NUC HTPC for more than just media playback, with support for a number of useful applications such as Steam.
Those of you on a tight budget can opt for the free OpenELEC distribution to give your HTPC a more “appliance”-like feel, although this does come at the compromise of not being able to use the variety of Windows applications that can enhance your home theatre PC.
Why you should buy one?
Our Intel NUC build is the perfect HTPC, combining an excellent XBMC experience, light gaming capability and Windows compatibility in a tiny, near-silent package.
Intel NUC HTPC Components
- Intel NUC Core i3 Model (D34010WYK1)
- Crucial M500 120GB mSATA
- Crucial 4GB DDR3 1.35V Ram
- Intel Wireless-AC/Bluetooth Card
- Windows 8.1 Licence
- Mini-HDMI cable
- Airmouse or Logitech Harmony 650 Universal Remote (Read our review here)
Ready to buy?I’m in! Get it all from Amazon!
After something different in your HTPC?
Have a look at some of our other builds that may better suit your needs
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Photo Credit: Pete Slater /Edited from Original