Advice on fanless DIY Roon Core

Hi all,

I have been running Roon on a 2014 Mac Mini that ouputs the music through its Ethernet port to my DAC (that includes an integrated streamer) through a bridge mode. The Mini is connected to the network through wifi (too far for my internet router for cabling). So far so good but:

  • I have some doubts about this set up in terms of SQ as I still have better SQ with my CD drive connected to the same DAC through spdif (even when I play hi-res files with Roon).
  • My MacMini 1TB drive is full…
  • Browsing my library (20k tracks - mix of ripped CDs and hi-res purchased files on Qobuz/HDTracks) is not flawless (but playback is fine once I manage to press Play).

I feel having 3 options:

  1. Customize my mac mini with a 2TB ssd inside, and changing the PSU to a LPSU (Uptone stuff) at the same time. But it will be a lot of money on a 2014 machine and the browsing will remain slow and hectic.
  2. Buy an expensive Nucleus (but I cannot have a bridge mode with the Nucleus) or an even more expensive Waversa WCore…
  3. Build a simple fanless NUC, with an:
  • HD Plex H1 Case (link)
  • ASRock Industrial Mini-ITX motherboard (link)
  • Core i3 8100T (35W) to keep power consumption / noise low (link), although intel core “T” (low power) models are quite hard to find on the web…
  • 8 or 16 Gb of RAM
  • An M2 SSD for the OS/Roon, A 2 TB SSD for the music library
  • JCAT LAN Card to have a cleaner signal going to my DAC (link)
  • Arch Linux OS
  • External LPSU, like a SR5 Paul Hynes, or a SOTM SPS-1000, to power both the PC and the Lan Card.

Any thoughts from anyone who ever faced this dilemma? Does the PC set up make sense?

Also, would a low power i3 8100T be enough to run Roon Core flawlessly? (I would have preferred an i5 8X00T but impossible to find on the web).

All advice or comments are welcome :slight_smile:

What you’re describing under 3. isn’t a NUC / ROCK, it’s a MOCK.

What you want is what Roon describes, slapped inside a passive case (like the HDPlex one).

This will get you a DIY Nucleus.

What you will get is a Roon appliance. What you won’t get is something that allows you to add all the expensive, and useless do-dads (LPSU, lan cards) you listed. If those matter more than having a simple, supported, stable solution, please feel free to waste your time and money.

Lenovos are on sale another day - their tiny desktops, or the new M90n nano IOT fanless i3 would do just fine for 500 or so new. Even better, just get 2018 mini pc tech on refurb. Put an SSD in it, if it’s not already there and make sure it’s got at least 8gb ram. Then loop power and ethernet to it and throw it in a closet, it’s silent and low power

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I would do whatever it takes to get ethernet from your router to your Roon core device.

Agreed but running an Ethernet cable through the living room is not something I can negotiate at home :confused: I also want to avoid Ethernet through powerlines.
I only use WiFi to control Roon. My music mainly sits locally on the MacMini and goes directly to the DAC.

There’s always a way to run an ethernet cable. Through the attic, under the floor, outside, etc. Powerline is not ethernet. The device that runs your Roon core is the device that needs to be connected to your router using ethernet.

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@filorus perhaps this can give you some networking ideas, try to stay away from power line adapters though:

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