Hi David, thanks for the compliment!
I run multiple workloads on it like a full media server (Plex, Sickrage, Couchpotato, Transmission), some Sonos controller, a full monitoring stack with Grafana, Prometheus, multiple collectors. I’ve ran ElasticSearch aggregation on it too but disabled for a while.
The master node is usually the most loaded one with 1.8–2 load average (it’s a 4 core board).
I believe I spent less than that. like $220 for the boards and accessories, $40 for the switch, and like $30–40 for a fan, little case and etc. I’d say $300 will be enough. There are now more powerful boards and I’d look into the RockPro64 boards from Pine64. More expensive tho.