Build a PC to live stream our church service

Hi. I'm a brand new member here. Not sure if this topic will end up in the right section on this forum.

I'm a volunteer on the tech team at our congregation but am an amateur. I need advice on building a Windows PC to live stream our service. Actually we need more than 1 PC, so inexpensive would be good. The PC only needs to encode the signal coming from our media booth to the streamer's video capture card and then push the stream online to our streaming service. It doesn't have to do anything else. Right now we're getting by with Dell Optiplex 780 towers with Windows 7, quad core 2.66 GHz CPU, onboard video (no dedicated video card), 4GB DDR2 ram, Osprey 240e card, and using Xsplit Broadcaster which is free for non-profits. We do not stream in HD yet, but it would be good to have streamers that are capable of doing that. Now we stream at 640x480 and under 1,000 kbps total video plus audio. The 780s have low memory and CPU usage when streaming, but trying to increase the total kbps much over 1,000 causes problems with the stream. We would like to use Open Broadcaster/OBS but we can't get the software to install on these computers. Xsplit seems to need less resources and installs with no problem.

I saw a great video from Tek Syndicate about building a cheap gaming PC for about $350.00, but it's years old. Also we won't be gaming, just encoding and pushing.

We already have keyboards, mice, monitors, and Windows OSes. We just need hardware to build the computers. We're looking for the best bang for the buck and something that will allow HD when we're ready. Actually some of the streams will never be HD, so a build for HD and a cheaper build for SD as described above would be great.

Info:

  • Located in USA
  • build under $400.00 if possible
  • we won't do overclocking
  • no preferred retailer as long as it's proven reliable
  • no water cooling, just air
  • no CD/DVD drive, we have a USB model
  • has to have room for PCIe x1 slot for the Osprey card as well as room for a dedicated video card installed without them crowding each other too much (if a dedicated video card is actually needed since this is for encoding only)

Thanks for any advice.

For such a low budget, i'd say go for second hand parts. You could get some old server parts, like an old Xeon chip with an appropriate board. You'd have to throw in a low-end GPU though. Check out this video as reference.

Thanks Kaleshi for the super quick reply for a great low priced PC. I should have mentioned in the first post that for building a streamer the parts have to be new. It's a mandate set by the media/tech department. I've read that AMD builds are the most cost effective. Hopefully there is a solution. The 780s were purchased used, but there is a new-parts mandate now.

Yeah at a low price point, you might even consider an APU from AMD.

This is actually true in the sense that an APU will suit streaming better than most intel processors for the same price. If its not used for raw performance there is no harm in going the APU route. There are a lot of puritanicals around that will preach one brand over the other but honestly in use case your better off with something small. TO be frank intel integrated graphics of the early days was absolute shit. Like very shitty. Encoding and pushing is your purpose ironically gaming PC's fit the bill as well because they are good for that stuff too.

If your in the market to build something completely new you can pick up the low end quad core APU (kaveri) for 40 bucks now in some stores.. throw in a cheap gigabyte motherboard. A cheap XFX power supply.. a single stick of ddr3 8gb and you would be golden if have the keyboard and monitor already. It would likely run you less than 350 bucks... tbh.. and would be a hell of a lot more modern. IDK head over to PC part picker and we can talk about some possibly platforms

If your in the market to build something completely new you can pick up the low end quad core APU (kaveri) for 40 bucks now in some stores..

Just make sure you don't get a 5800k as they had an over heating issue. I would also put a hyper 212 evo in it because the stock heat sink can get really loud, and that might disrupt service.

LOL no they didnt.. their stock cooler was just not enough.. There is one in my dads system. Its using the stock cooler in fact. I undervolted it and left the GPU alone.. and it runs like a champ no issue and its the PLEX machine for their house as well. I monitor stats remotely. Nothing above 46 C at all LOL. The problem mainly arose from too many motherboard manufacturers pumping too much juice (voltage) through the CPU at stock

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There is a lot of people doing reviews of them saying that it overheats, although some people claim that the are getting 400mhz OCs with stock heat sink. Best I can figure is the chip is kinda hit and miss.

Meh reviewers accustomed to lower temps of Intel consider 45c over heating and the bias can be sometimes annoying.. Don't get me wrong.. They can get toasty but the apus are solid for the purpose they are built for (go to htcp to light gaming)

I was talking about the 5800k specifically. I am actually running a 78780k and have no real problems with it.

Yeah I know.. I'm just stating those reviews can be kinda dumb.. I've watched a fair few.. Anyways when the op comes back we ought to draw up some PC part picker rigs

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Hi. Thanks to everyone for replying with great information. Up until the end of this month we can buy Windows 10 Pro VLK licenses for super cheap because we have been accepted as a 501c3 corp by TechSoup/Microsoft. So the Windows OS cost is no problem and we could continue using what we are familiar with. Actually we will probably order more Windows licenses today.

Here's some added info I forgot to mention earlier. These streamers only run about 3 hours continuously, once a week. Also the streamers are not in the sanctuary but in a separate room so computer noise would not be a problem. The CPUs more specifically are Core2 Quads 2.66 GHz. We bought a bunch of 1TB WD Black 7200 rpm HDDs on sale so we already have HDDs.

I saw one specific build by TheBlackestSheep for $273. Thanks for listing the specific parts!! I'm guessing for SD streaming that would be a good, inexpensive rig, maybe even for HD. But for the HD we can spend more money, still trying to keep it under $400. I'm wondering what a more powerful AMD setup would cost as long as there's not a problem with overheating and doesn't require a giant CPU cooler which would limit which MBs we could use.

I've looked and seen AM3+ socket type CPUs both 6 core and 8 core:

FD6300WMHKBOX FX-6300 6-Core (95W)
FD8320FRHKBOX FX-8320 FX-Series 8-Core (125W)
and others...

I don't know how they compare to APUs as far as performance or overheating problems.

I read somewhere that more cores are definitely better for OBS. I don't know if a standard size, good quality CPU cooler would prevent overheating. The best I understand APUs is that the rig wouldn't need a dedicated video card. Would that mean we could use the onboard VGA port and take advantage of the APU graphics? So I'm not sure which would be better.

Thanks again for any updates.

Is this a church or a "church"? I though of being a Pastor at the Church of GabeN on Twitch where we can confess our devotion to GabeN and enjoy the Tax exempt income.

We're a brick and mortar church with about 600 members that come to service every weekend. And we have maybe 125 to 150 people connecting to our live streams. We also have activities on week nights.

Even with that current hardware, install Linux and forget about "getting by"
UbuntuStudio would be a good starting point as it has most of the basic packages installed to make adding OBS easier.

Would be good if you could try it on an ssd. i have similar spec hardware, except for AMD cpu with one less core. With ssd it now boots in 5s; takes a lot of abuse far above a normal workload to stress the CPU; almost never utilises more than half the 8GB ram I thought I needed

As you want best bang for buck is worth at least trying it out. The money saved on software licenses and new hardware can then be re-directed to upgrading video/audio gear

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This is exactly what I was thinking. If you aren't in a rush, I'd say you should take a day or two to try out something like Ubuntu (which is popular and user-friendly) and see what happens. In many cases, I've seen a system perform the same task better on Linux than it has on Windows.

It sounds like you have spare WD Blacks, so if you pop in one of those there's no real risk because you can replace the original drive if you change your mind.

The best thing about trying Linux before buying new hardware? You might end up spending $0 instead of $300.

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If your near a Microcenter they will knock off 40 bucks off the price of a APU/MB combo.
I biult my dau a 7870k with a gigabyte 88 coard. The 7870k comes with a really good cooler and the gigabyte board is of much better quality then the a68h board from MSI.
Anther nice thing about an APU is they can work with an older OEM PSU if you have too.

Another option based on @TheBlackestSheep's build would be to go with the Pentium G 4400. The budget skylake cpu has a better iGPU as far as I know.
Hope this helps