How to spec, build, and set up a home the­ater PC—whether it’s for gam­ing, stream­ing, or a sim­ple plug-in NAS, we break down ex­actly what you need


TAKE YOUR MIND BACK for a mo­ment. The year is 2007, Steve Jobs has just an­nounced the iPhone, the In­di­anapo­lis Colts have fin­ished smash­ing the Chicago Bears in this year’s Su­per Bowl, and Win­dows Vista has now been out for three whole months. Mi­crosoft’s op­er­at­ing sys­tem brought with it a hefty in­stal­la­tion size, a ton of un­nec­es­sary re­source-con­sum­ing pro­cesses, and— more im­por­tantly for us—ac­cess to the Win­dows Me­dia Cen­ter across all of the var­i­ous edi­tions of the flag­ship OS.

For the first time (out­side of the Win­dows XP Me­dia Cen­ter Edi­tion OS, of course), there was an in­tu­itively de­signed, in­te­grated user in­ter­face de­vel­oped specif­i­cally for sim­pler in­put meth­ods, such as a re­mote, and baked di­rectly into the op­er­at­ing sys­tem it­self. This is ar­guably the one thing that Win­dows Vista got right, and it would later in­spire the Xbox 360’s me­dia cen­ter as well, even­tu­ally lead­ing on to the de­vel­op­ment of Kodi.

We’ve built rigs around the con­cept, we’ve tin­kered with fea­tures about back­ing up your legally ob­tained me­dia col­lec­tions, and we’ve delved into how to stream the lat­est 4K con­tent di­rect to your home com­puter. Yet we’ve never com­bined the lot. Wel­come, then, to

Max­i­mum PC’s first foray into the tech­no­log­i­cal ter­ri­tory of build­ing your own per­fect home the­ater and con­tent-con­sump­tion com­puter.

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