I purchased Encore 2.0 (from Videoguys) and then discovered my Athlon XP+2600 did not support SSE2 (a requirement for Encore 2.0). So...to get the software to run I had to upgrade my computer. Ended up building the DIY4 machine exactly as spec'd except I went with an Antec case. Got everything at Newegg.com except for the FX540--got that here from Videoguys--with a final total cost ~$1,300. The one thing I did extra was outfit the case with three 80mm temp-sensitive low speed fans and one 92mm temp sensitive fan for the CPU. (The Antec case supports all of these fans--and the computer is quieter than my old one!)
Anyway, I just did a very unscientific test to see how fast the new computer transcodes MPEG2. What I did was take a 1 minute clip of DV footage and had Encore 1.5 transcode on the old machine and then on the new machine. (Same source external drive providing the file.) My old computer took 1:36:28. The new computer 54:27! I then had Encore 2.0 compile the same footage and it only took 49 seconds! Almost 1/2 the time of my old computer!! Considering the mountain of home video I'm going to convert to DVD this is absolutely outstanding.
The only problems I had during the build were reversing the LED cables on the motherboard--at first I didn't get HD activity lights or power on lights and when I updated the BIOS to the latest build I scared myelf silly when I got a "No OS Found" message on subsequent boot. Found all I had to do was set the BIOS settings on the hard drives back to the correct boot order.
Many thanks to Videoguys for their articles! Bottom line--IT WAS WORTH IT! I look forward to their final article--especially if they provide configuration/overclocking notes since my setup matches their's so closely.
From all that I've read the AMD 64 x2 4400+ gives the most performance for the price so I went with the AMD setup. (I believe it was Computer Shopper either last month or the month before that had a side-by-side comparison of all the dual-core chips from AMD and Intel.)