The Best Motherboards for an HTPC

Written by frank jones
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The Best Motherboards for an HTPC
Clean and sleek home-theatre PC. (Gary Cornhouse/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

You can choose a motherboard for a home-theatre computer several ways. Some general guidelines will help with selecting a custom motherboard. However, it is also helpful to have some specific components in mind while shopping. Additionally, there are some benefits to using Linux as the operating system for your home theatre, which will require the selection of a motherboard that may be more compatible with Linux.

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General Guidelines

The most crucial components for any home theatre are the video and sound options. Most motherboards provide more than adequate on-board options for these components, which makes them the top priority when selecting your hardware. Ideally, your new home-theatre motherboard should have an HDMI connection, which will send high-definition video and quality sound to your television or projector. Additionally, it is helpful to include an optical output in order to connect your computer to a stereo receiver or high-end surround-sound system. Some other things to consider when selecting your new motherboard are the design of the case you will be using, future upgrades and networking options such as Wake-on-LAN.

A shiny new motherboard.
A shiny new motherboard. (motherboard image by peter Hires Images from

Specific Motherboards

One option that many home-theatre-computer users like is having the smallest computer possible. For this purpose, the Zotac GF9300-D-E is a great mini-ITX option. This motherboard has a Geforce 9300 GPU with HDMI, integrated Wi-Fi, six USB ports and one eSATA connection. This motherboard packs all of the most common features needed by a home-theatre computer into a tiny 7-inch-by-7-inch package. Its compact size allows the motherboard to be placed into a very small case, which more easily blends into living room decor than a standard ATX case.

The Best Motherboards for an HTPC
An unobstrusive home-theatre system. (Interior with home cinema image by Nikolay Okhitin from

Linux Home Theater

Choosing to use Linux as the operating system for your home theatre can provide many benefits, such as the ease of future software upgrades, the integration of virtual gaming consoles and the ability to easily set up software RAID for vast amounts of storage. However, Linux can be a little finicky when it comes to video chipsets. For this reason it is best to stick with the NVIDIA Geforce 8000 and 9000 model series chipsets, which have the best support for Linux. This is because NVIDIA provides better drivers that support hardware-assisted video playback for Linux systems.

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