Choosing the ideal motherboard for your home theater PC is crucial for starting out on the right foot, and unsurprisingly, it all comes down to connectivity. Finding a board with a solid rear I/O is key. For those running more advanced audio speaker solutions, you’re going to want something with optical audio-out (also known as TOSLink or S/PDIF), plenty of USB ports for your DAC/amplifier’s infrared reader, wireless controllers, and other peripherals and, of course, some form of graphics-out, such as HDMI or DisplayPort (although DP won’t provide you with audio direct). If 4K streaming is your game, you’re also going to want to get yourself a motherboard that has support for HDCP 2.2, of course.
HDCP is a form of DRM that ensures you can’t rip content by using an intermediary device between the system and the TV. In short, it’s Hollywood’s way of protecting its property in the modern digital age. That said, if you can live without 4K, any motherboard with a display-out will get you 1080p streaming, no worries.
Everything else after that is secondary — you won’t need extensive overclocking capability, nor a multitude of fan headers, advanced power phase designs, or even, dare we say it, RGB. The cheaper motherboards will suffice here.