Building a < $700 video encoding/streaming/NAS computer

I'm trying to build a new machine that will exclusively be for video streaming, transcoding (e.g. running A Plex server) and eventually a DVR (with something like an HDHomeRun Prime).

Approximate Purchase Date: this week
Budget Range: $600-700 but ideally closer to $600
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Streaming 720p and 1080p movies, encoding/transcoding, storage (NAS) and a DVR.
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, amazon, tigerdirect
Country of Origin: US
Overclocking: maybe
I know that the intel sandy bridge chips are great for encoding, specifically the i5 2500k seems like a lot of bang for your buck. Newegg has a combo right now with some highly rated parts that is real tempting:

All I would have to add would be 3x2TB hard drives, but that would put the cost up to about $789 and I'd like to do it at a slightly lower cost.

I've been looking at the Anandtech reviews of the Sandybridge chips:

And the i5's score very well. I've also read other advice on this forum regarding the AMD Phenom X4's and I put together this system:

AMD Phenom X4 965 + Gigabyte GA-880GA-UD3H - combo price (with CPU) of $230
G.Skill Ripjaws 4GB DDR3 240 pin - $25
Antec Earthwatts Green EA430D - $54
Sapphire 100293L Radeon HD 5570 - $60
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB - $60
Rosewill Challenger case - $50
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB x 3 - ($75/ea) - $224

Total: ~$695

So I'm at $95 less than the i5 2500k build. Is there any way I could get it closer to $600 without intentionally crippling myself? Is it worth springing for the i5?

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  1. Actually I just realized that Gigabyte board has an ATI Radeon HD 4250 on board video. So for my purposes I shouldn't need the discrete graphics card which would further reduce the price of the AMD build to about $635 -- which is closer to my goal and a price I'd be comfortable with.

    Is this a good build or is it worth springing for the i5 build?

  2. Not to keep spamming my own thread, but the Athlon II X4's score pretty high too. If I'm willing to consider the Phenom, would it make sense to go even further and get the Athlon? I can really only save ~$30 though.

    My biggest question is, which of these builds would best be able to handle Plex, DVR recording / encoding and streaming all at the same time? I think that's an edge case. The more likely use case is DVR + network streaming.

    The i5's encode at about 30 fps faster than either AMD processor, without taking into account quicksync. I did the math and that isn't really a big deal for me since my encoding jobs wouldn't REALLY be time sensitive.

    I could do the i5 build for about $710 if I only get 2x2TB drives instead of 3, and then add another later. So for $110 more, is the i5 worth it?

    So confusing!
  3. Yes, for that usage, you'll really feel the difference in using the i5 vs the AMD.
  4. Thanks for the reply!

    Anyone else have anything to add?
  5. justinmiller61 said:
    Thanks for the reply!

    Anyone else have anything to add?

    Hi Justin! I just came across your thread because I'm actually looking to build something very very similar to what you have described.

    The only relevant addition is that it'll be streaming videos to a maximum of 50 other computers on a LAN.

    I suspect you have already purchase your unit by now. Since there hasn't been much feedback here, I was wondering if you perhaps have learned any more, or come to any conclusions, or perhaps have actual experience after having purchased and used the computer for I figure some time now.

    Any conclusions on Sandy Bridge vs Phenom II vs Athlon II?

    Video card options? I suspect such a system wouldn't require much on video, right?
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