The Best HTPC Graphics Cards of 2018

Updated on January 8, 2018
Here's a look at a green HTPC I recently made. It's cool, quiet, and has a ton of storage for all my movies and games.
Here's a look at a green HTPC I recently made. It's cool, quiet, and has a ton of storage for all my movies and games.

The best part about owing a home theater PC is your ability to constantly upgrade it. Whether you need additional capacity or a good HTPC graphics card, it's all available at your fingertips.

I recently built a green mini ITX gaming PC that you can see on the right. I used a low wattage i3 T processor along with a gold rated power supply to make a box that was power efficient, cool, and extremely quiet.

Today, I use it, along with an Xbox 360 controller or gaming mouse, to play Steam Games. I also use it to Stream Plex to my house as well as share media with friends and neighbors. They, in turn, do the same.

3 Good Graphics Cards for Your Home Theater PC (2018 Version)

I've updated this article throughout the years and gone from a large number of recommendations to now only a few. This is mostly because most modern Kaby Lake processors have more than good enough internal graphics for your basic HTPC. So, this list is more for those who are looking to run programs or games.

While you can certainly add any modern graphics card to your home theater PC, these are the ones that really stand out to me in terms of price, performance, and power.

A Good and Quiet HTPC GPU Under or Around $100

This is a great little card from Zotac. It runs modern AAA titles and has the connectivity options I need.
This is a great little card from Zotac. It runs modern AAA titles and has the connectivity options I need.

Zotac GTX 1050

The GTX 1050 is a fantastic card and very capable of playing modern games in 1080p. While some of the more graphically intense games will have to be tuned down a bit in the settings most games will run without a thought.

This card even does a reasonably good job with games like Battlefield 1 with over 60 FPS being achieved on the medium preset.

For TDP, the stock card uses around 75 watts. Another great part about this is that the non overclocked versions of the 1050 don't even need a 6-pin connector. Be sure to check your particular card before you buy. I don't mind hooking in the 6-pin, but it's good to know you have this option if you want it.

While the RX 560 from AMD has been released as well, this Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 is the one I'd still recommend for a budget gaming PC.


Low Profile Gaming HTPC Cards Under $150 2018

If you're looking for a low profile card, I like the GTX 1050TI at around $120 to $130. EVGA's single fan version of this card (not SC) is ideal for a low noise, temperature, and power consumption GPU for your HTPC.
If you're looking for a low profile card, I like the GTX 1050TI at around $120 to $130. EVGA's single fan version of this card (not SC) is ideal for a low noise, temperature, and power consumption GPU for your HTPC.

In this price range, I like the EVGA GTX 1050Ti a lot at around $120 to $130. It released in late 2016 and is a lot like a chopped down version of the 960 with a lot of performance for $50 less.

The low profile is nice in an HTPC. In terms of power consumption, it's fantastic with 8 watts while idle and around 70 watts when it's stretched.

If you're trying to play modern titles in 1080p on medium to high settings, this is a great card to consider. The RX 470, which is around $30 more can give you significantly more performance for just a little bit more. However, it runs a bit higher and I'd recommend at least an i5 if you go that direction.

HTPC Gaming GPU Under or Around $250

GTX 1060 3GB or 6GB

If you're wanting to run 1080p games in max settings, the 1060 3GB or 6GB is a great option. The 6GB option is more for the 1440p games out there; however, there are titles where the extra VRAM does make a difference in terms of FPS.

I'd suggest this option over the RX 580 simply because it does better in a wide variety of games while still maintaining lower temps and power consumption.

In my opinion, this is what makes sense the most. The cut down version of it, shown below, is only 6.8 inches long and uses just a single fan. So, it's capable of fitting in a variety of HTPC cases and still gives you the performance you're looking for.

HTPC Graphics Card Poll

What's most important to you in a graphics card for your HTPC?

See results

Do You Need a Dedicated Graphics Card?

A few years ago the answer to this would have been a resounding, yes. That being said today's modern CPUs are more than capable of playing movies in 1080p. If that's all you're looking for, and you're not using an older CPU, then most likely you're good to go. In fact, Skylake's CPUs even support 4k video playback.

Older cheap graphics cards should mostly be avoided at this point in time as many of them don't even exceed the GPU capability of modern CPUs integrated graphics or simply don't add enough to make them worth it.

If you're wanting to play AAA titles or are using an older CPU, then a graphics card is a good way to go.

While you could put a top-of-the-line GTX 1080 Ti in your HTPC, you should consider a GPU that has a low TDP. The lower the TDP, the less heat you'll get. In general, the lower the TDP, the less power it takes to run as well.

If you're like me and planning to run your HTPC a lot of the time, that power adds up. So, keep that consideration in mind before getting started.

In addition, you'll want to look for something that has low noise. Having a booming HTPC on top of your media center is a distraction that never really goes away.

An HTPC is Still the Best Portable Media Device

In 2018 there are a plethora of ways you can watch your favorite media on all of your favorite devices. In my own house, I have a Chromecast, a laptop to stream video to my TV, a Roku 4 and Roku streaming stick, and many other options.

That being said there's really only one device that I end up using for all of my favorite programming and that's my home theater PC that I use along with Plex. It's big enough to store all of my favorite series, movies, pictures and capable of playing all of my favorite video games.

If I want to play a console game, I just plug in a USB compatible remote. Something like an old 360 remote works perfectly. If I want to play with a mouse and keyboard, I have all the options in the world to choose from.

Not only are these games playable all from one device, they're also generally cheaper on PC. What's more is that I can use free services like Steam and Origin and avoid fees from memberships like Playstation Plus and Xbox Live.

For internet, there's a direct connection which takes out some of the buffering and staggering issues I have with some of my other devices.

If you're like me and ready to consolidate most of your entertainment to a box like this one, hopefully one of the graphics cards above works for what you're looking for.

HTPC Discussion Area

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      VegasRick 

      5 weeks ago

      Your article started out to be about home theater and went straight into GAMING.

    • profile image

      Anthony 

      6 weeks ago

      You don’t mention cec support?

      What’s the state of play on that hot potato?

    • profile image

      kooljo 

      6 months ago

      I hate Nvidia it ' s not support DTD HD anymore that why

      Nvidia not fit with Old AV reciever

      and if you talk about real HTPC , your comment not should recomment in NVIDIA

    • profile image

      Tim 

      10 months ago

      To those mentioning 4K. The Zotac GTX 1050's max resolution is 7680 x 4320 with HDMI 2.0b, so this should play 4k easily.

    • profile image

      Patrick 

      11 months ago

      HTPC implies watching movies not gaming. Not seeing 4K mentioned either.

    • profile image

      Evo Mitev 

      15 months ago

      There are people like me, out there, who play absolutely no games at all. We need the PC only for HT :) I got intel G4600 but I'm looking in the future and the future is now and it's 4K...I'll get there eventually...

      Are there video cards for under $150 (way under preferably) that will playback/stream 4K content...no games?

    • profile image

      StevePhy 

      16 months ago

      Looking to find a card that will be able to be utilized in an A/V receiver/TV system. I'm looking at the EVGA 6GB 1060 SC card to be used with a Pioneer receiver and a Samsung plasma TV. I'm concerned with handshake issues. Any advice in approaching in finding the best option?

    • profile image

      Frank Ross 

      16 months ago

      I was wanting to mostly watch TV and do some high end networking I also want to cut the cord on cable TV.. maybe by adding a nVidia Shield Media Pro ? with the Best Video Card also What so ?What do you recommend?

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, turbofuture.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://turbofuture.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)