I’m currently running Roon on my MacBook Pro (2017 model with 8 gigs). I have a large library of files that is close to 1TB. I store my files on a 4TB Lacie External USB drive coonected to the MacBook. I connect my MacBook via USB to a Mytek Liberty DAC
Is there any value in getting a Mac Mini (8GB/512GB) and dedicate it for Roon? A MacMini with 1 or even 2TBs is pretty pricey and probably a non-starter.
Would like to stay in the Mac ecosystem so please no other options.
By staying in the Apple ecosystem you can control the mini from the MacBook and free up the MacBook to visit cool sites like AllMusic.com and “heart” the album track on the Roon running on the MacBook (but playing on the Mini)
Plenty of NUC/Nucleus lovers here and they have wise advice.
By way of background: I am firmly in the Apple ecosystem – all my primary computers and almost all my mobile devices are Apple. But I am also comfortable with and do own Windows and linux devices, using them for specific purposes where they suit my needs better than an Apple device.
I moved from running Roon Core on a Windows laptop (windows because my Macs would NOT play well with hdmi output) to running Roon Core on a ROCK+NUC. I couldn’t be happier with the ROCK+NUC solution. I need to spend zero time administering it, and it’s always on. It has become a zero-maintenance appliance.
That experience (the liberating feeling of having an always-on, maintenance-free appliance) has actually just led me to purchase an M1 Mac mini to run my Photos from. I’m sick of turning on laptops to look at Photos. (And I don’t want to use iCloud Photos).
Based on this, my suggestions for you would be:
Absolutely go for an always-on device for Roon Core, such as a Mac mini or NUC.
Whether you go for a Mac Mini or a NUC depends on whether you think you might eventually use the device for anything other than Roon. If yes, go for the Mac mini. If not, go for the NUC.
Set-up of the NUC+ROCK is not too difficult, and once done you can pretty much forget about it. But you can’t run anything else on it.
The Mac Mini will be more ongoing maintenance, I think, but will allow you to run things otehr than Roon, and will keep you in the Apple camp. You can avoid paying a huge amount by using an attached external SSD (2TB available for ~$300) rather than the $800 Apple will charge for internal SSD).
I went for the 512 GB, and 16 GB RAM. (To clarify, that was for my intended use of Photos, not Roon. I’m going to leave Roon on the NUC). Of these, I believe the increased RAM is more important. (Search for the thread about M1 Mac Mini where @wizardofoz indicates that an M1 Mac Mini with 8 GB RAM did not work well, and he thinks it was because of the RAM. You should be able to search for the thread by seraching on user @wizardofoz ).
I use a 2018 i5 Mac mini with 8 gigs of ram. It works fine, no problem. I use it just for Roon and I run it headless, using both my iPad and my Macbook as a remote. I have the Apple TV extension, and that also works well. I do have a USB C SSD to store my library. I also use DSP, again it’s fine. At some point I’ll upgrade to 16 gigs of ram, but honestly, I haven’t seen the need yet. I’m pretty happy with the setup, no complaints. I have no experience with Apple’s M1 processor. I’ve seen a few posts that suggest it works fine as well.
My understanding is that in M1 Macs the RAM is used not just by the CPU but also by the GPU and the Neural Engine. In addition it’s not upgradable after purchase. And I have always believed in having too much rather than too little RAM. That’s the reason I went with 16 GB. YMMV…
I’ve been doing this on an entry level M1 (256GB SSD, 8 GB RAM) and it’s flawless. I have a library of about 11,500 tracks, I use DSP, the machine doesn’t break a sweat and is utterly silent. For $699 USD I got my money’s worth.
I’m told once your library size gets into 6 figure territory 8 GB has been problematic for some users (swapping). Presently, the most RAM Roon Server ever uses on my Mac is about 1GB.
Obviously more RAM is never bad but I don’t anticipate needing more than 8 GB for years.