Jeff Atwood (aka codinghorror) Shares 2016 HTPC Config

I like it when people share their HTPC configs. It’s nice to get an idea of what they’re doing, and why. Jeff is a proficient blogger, and we’ve shared similar thought process in the past so I am always quick to have a look when he updates his setup.

IMO, his update is solid – but I find the I/O choices to be a bit odd. Especially, opting for a standard SATA SSD instead of a modern interface. Either way, have a look and if you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

 I’ve loved many computers in my life, but the HTPC has always had a special place in my heart. It’s the only always-on workhorse computer in our house, it is utterly silent, totally reliable, sips power, and it’s at the center of our home entertainment, networking, storage, and gaming. This handy box does it all, 24/7.


  • If I had a sata ssd from a

    If I had a sata ssd from a previous build laying about I don’t think I would go out of my way to replace it. For HTPC duty, an 850 Evo is almost certainly fast enough to not be noticeable. 


    My only disagreement with Mr. Atwood is that I think the age of the x86 htpc is over (insofar as it ever exists beyond us nerds). I used an htpc for years, but when I moved in April I put that sucker in a closet and started running it as a headless server in conjunction with a streaming box (roku for now, but perhaps android TV/apple TV in the near future). Streaming boxes aren’t perfect yet, but on the whole I found the server-box combo to be better than the standalone htpc.


    Maybe it was my own incompetence, but my htpc was never totally foolproof/reliable, and when it failed it tended to fail in a way that required my input rather than just rebooting to the home screen like the streaming boxes. WMC was prettier, more powerful, and more customizable, but at this point I can’t argue with the simplicity of a streaming box.


    • That is a valid point. If the

      That is a valid point. If the SSD and 2x 2.5 2TB 5400RPM drives were already in the mix, it doesn’t make that much sense to replace (although I have to think one 4TB green/red type 3.5″ would be better suited from a heat/noise perspective).

      I also see your point WRT to HTPC as a client, although TBF it is not a new argument at all. There are those who swear by the HTPC client (cough.. YT), and those who loathe it. Each side has valid points, but there is one killer feature that clearly makes the case for Mr. Atwood – gaming. If you want to do PC gaming on the TV, you need a PC connected to it.

      Personally, even though I don’t play games I haven’t found a suitible replacement for flexiblity that the PC provides around every sort of content and how I want to consume it. For e.g. I subscribe to a sports broadcast service that has Android/iOS mobile apps, but no smart TV or OTT platform app. To get my EPL football on the big screen, I need a PC. The case is somewhat similar around BD playback (stand alone players cannot compete with the beauty that is AnyDVD HD :)).

      • Don’t get me wrong, a lot of

        Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the time I loved having the power of a full computer hooked up to my tv. There were times when I could, with great effort, get something working that I know still wouldnt work on a streaming box today. And for a long time I didn’t think streaming boxes were good enough to replace an htpc, even with its frustrations. Its really only in the last year that I thought the transition was really possible.


        On another note, I’m not even sure gaming is a killer feature anymore. Both Steam and Nvidia have the ability to stream games from other computers in your house (right now only to specific boxes, I would like to see them become apps but who knows…), and in an ideal situation that other computer can have a beefier GFX card because it doesn’t have to worry about being as quiet. I am interested in trying either the nvidia shield or steam streaming box early next year to see if it works well for tv gaming.


        (ps. AnyDVD is amazing. I can’t argue with that)

  • The best thing I like about

    The best thing I like about HTPCs is that you can build them to suit your personal taste and needs instead of buying a “one size fits all” PC.  I’ve not gotten bitten by the streaming bug and still go old school when it comes to watching TV and movies.  I never saw the sense in watching commercials if I don’t have to, and many streaming services make you sit through them with no way to skip past them.  That’s almost 20 minutes out of every one hour of TV programming that could be better spent.  I barely have enough time to get through all of the shows I record on a weekly basis even with skipping commercials.  If I had to sit through commercials, the number of shows I’d have time to watch would diminish by about one-third.  Streaming may be convenient, but the logic escapes me.

    I have a server loaded with more movies and TV shows than I will ever have time to watch.  I also have Verizon FIOS and two local markets within close proximity for OTA TV.  I don’t use extenders but instead I have Intel NUCs at each TV.  Since I’m on FIOS I only have a few channels that are flagged so I can share everything else with no problem.  I’ve finally gotten the wife to feel comfortable with WMC so switching to anything else at this point isn’t going to happen.

    My gaming days are long gone.  I simply don’t have the time to devote to them like I used to.  They’re fun to play, but ultimately one of the biggest time wasters ever invented.  Just my 2 cents.

    • I agree about commercials,

      I agree about commercials, which is why I use Plex and um… alternative sources for video files. It is legally dubious, I agree, but as long as I am paying for the cable subscription I am morally ok with the arrangement. Your morals may vary, of course.

  • I run a 1U server in a half

    I run a 1U server in a half server chassis with Windows 7 Ultimate.
    Windows Media Center loaded and recording from Verizon Fios with a HDHomerun Prime.
    Also installed Plex media server and distribute via plex through Roku3 boxes.

    I like the convience of having all the recorded shows, movies
    and music collection on the server.
    My wife like the uncluttered Roku3 in the home.

    Plex works well and plays everything you can throw at it on the Roku.