Different types of home theater PC systems can typically be found either as pre-built systems that can be connected to an existing home theater or systems that a person can put together and use. Pre-built systems have a number of advantages, especially for people who may not want to build their own computer, and can include numerous features ranging from massive amounts of internal storage to touch screens on the unit. These types of systems are typically quite expensive, however, so building a system may be more economically feasible for people with the technical knowledge and willingness to build their own computer.
Home theater PC systems are devices that effectively allow the controls and features of a PC or "personal computer" to be integrated into a home theater system. As entertainment has become increasingly available through digital formats, such as streaming audio and video, the use of a computer system as part of a home theater has similarly increased in effectiveness. Home theater PC systems allow someone to more easily record and enjoy digital media on a home theater. These systems can also include media storage and playback devices, such as hard drives and optical drives for digital versatile discs (DVDs) or Blu-ray discs.
Some of the most popular types of home theater PC systems are pre-built units that are available from computer or home entertainment device manufacturers. This type of system is often designed to appear similar to other components within a home theater, rather than as a standing computer tower. The hardware within these PC systems is often designed to be powerful but quiet, so that they do not interfere with audio quality from the home theater. These systems can be quite expensive, but often include a number of unique features such as digital touch screen controls and proprietary software used to navigate media.
People can also build their own home theater PC systems, rather than purchasing pre-built units. This can be done either through upgrading an existing computer to be compatible with a home theater system or by building a unit from scratch that is intended as part of a home theater. One of the major benefits of this type of system is that the components needed to make functional PC systems are often fairly affordable and people can make their own systems for much less than a pre-built system costs. These computers may have many of the same compatibility issues that other computers have, however, and building such a system can often be just as complicated as putting together a computer.