How to Turn Your PC Into a Home Theater Powerhouse

edited August 2023 in Lifestyle

Although you have almost certainly used your PC to watch countless YouTube videos or enjoy some of your favorite streaming content, have you ever considered that you could also upgrade your home theater experience? Depending on the technology already at your disposal, you can turn a laptop or desktop PC into a hub for watching movies, shows, and more with a few simple upgrades. With the addition of some suitable hardware, software, and peripheral devices, you can turn your PC into a home theater powerhouse and enjoy cinema-quality entertainment for years to come. 

Having The Right Hardware Makes Your Home Theater Fast, Cool, and Quiet  

To properly support being used as a hub for a home theater, you should ensure that your PC is sufficiently equipped to run for hours at a time without stuttering, overheating, or filling your living room with the whining of overworked fans. The most important hardware upgrades to consider include the CPU, graphics card or GPU, motherboard, CPU cooling, and PSU (power supply). 

As the twin workhorses of your PC's visual capabilities, your CPU and GPU must be fit for purpose to achieve your desired results. Depending on the complexity and resolution of a given show or film being streamed or played from storage, the amount of stress placed on both pieces of hardware can be considerable.  

Installing more powerful versions of these components will help mitigate issues with graphics quality but can also lead to loud and obnoxious fan noises as your PC home theater attempts to keep everything appropriately cool. Popular solutions include liquid and air-cooled systems that are either low profile or all-in-one to help prevent loud humming from your PC's fan. 

As the somewhat literal backbone of your PC, your motherboard allows the other hardware in your computer to physically connect and interact with each other. Since your motherboard choice can directly impact how many PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) and RAM slots your home theater computer has, upgrading it can be well worth the effort. 

Purchasing a better power supply or PSU for your PC home theater might not be your first thought, but it can make a notable difference in your setup's performance and noise output. Since your newly upgraded PC components will require more electricity to operate efficiently, your CPU and CPU cooling systems will have to work harder, which in turn puts stress on your power supply. If your PSU lacks any kind of fan or has one which regularly shuts down, purchasing a more capable power supply can help prevent performance issues due to overheating. 

Purchasing Peripheral Devices Can Greatly Improve Your PC Home Theater 

Now that you have swapped out your old hardware to use your PC as a home theater, you should also consider acquiring some appropriate peripheral devices that will let you control settings and apps without having to get up from your seating arrangements. Some of the best accessories to improve your PC home theater experience include digital projectors, wireless keyboards and mice, and PC-compatible remote controls. 

While you can enjoy all your favorite content directly from your PC monitor when watching on your own, having multiple people crowded around a relatively small screen can diminish the level of enjoyment for everyone involved. Rather than having to cluster up around your PC, why not consider purchasing a digital projector to enjoy 4K, HD and other popular formats on the walls of your own living room? It is important to note that since projectors for home use come in a wide variety of resolutions and lighting requirements, you should make sure that any projector meets your technical requirements before finalizing your purchase.  

Other useful peripheral devices for your PC home theater include wireless keyboards and mice, some of which are approximately the same size as an average TV remote control. Whichever size of wireless keyboard and mouse you prefer, having the ability to utilize the full extent of your PC without having to get up and run to your wired or integrated keyboard is very convenient. 

For those who want the utility of a keyboard but still prefer the aesthetics and appearance of a traditional TV remote, several options are available that can be used across various devices. While some resemble a regular remote control, others include miniature versions of mouse trackpads and full keyboards. If you own a smartphone and are looking for a less expensive alternative, several free apps are available for Android and iOS devices that will let you use your cell phone as a PC remote control. 

Consider Downloading the Right Software to Ensure Maximum Compatibility 

Although hardware and peripheral devices are crucial to achieving the results you desire for your PC home theater, you should not make the mistake of overlooking software. While many free apps are available for customizing your home theater experience, this is very much a case of "you get what you pay for." By spending the money on a fully equipped set of software complete with codecs and formats, you can rest assured that your HTPC (Home Theater PC) will be capable of displaying whatever kind of entertainment you would like to enjoy. 

With the right hardware, peripheral devices, and software, you can transform your PC into the home theater setup of your dreams. Before making any purchases, you should ensure that any components are fully compatible with your existing setup as well as each other. 

*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.

About Dan VanPatten: Dan is a full-time technology writer with interests in gaming, gadgetry, and all things PC tech related. He writes about a variety of topics including technology news, product reviews, and software. His experience stems from years of experience writing & producing content for technology newsletters & publications.



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