Best roon server hardware with spare i3 9th gen.?

i’d like to build a small roon server and am wondering what server hardware would be a good option, given that:

  • i have a spare i3 9100 lying around (with stock cooler) and probably some RAM
  • it would preferably be small (dimensionwise, that is)
  • for a first server, i’d most rather limit the budget

i’v been looking aroung for nuc’s, but those seem to always come with a processor. any tips on an alternative that would enable me to use my spare i3?
greets, menno

Hello and welcome to the Roon community

What size is your library and how much RAM do you have?
That will almost certainly make a nice Roon server if you have 8GB or RAM and you have less than 60k tracks in your library.

You won’t be able to run a lot of Rooms with DSP and upscaling but it’s a good spec and will work great in most situations.

Are you planning to run Rock on it or Windows (or Linuxl) ?

Thanks for your reply.

In terms of RAM, I think I have 8GB. Otherwise, buying the RAM would be OK. I’d have to buy storage (SSD?) anyway for the OS. I was just hoping to save some money and use unused parts by using my i3.

Currently, my offline library has about 11k tracks. If the i3 would be insufficient for that, I’d be OK shrinking that, since I currently mostly listen through Qobuz anyway.

So what other hardware would be good? Is there a NUC-like option that comes without a processor? Or do I then end up with something like mini-ITX?

One final note: it’d be nice if the system could be coupled directly to my stereo; I will have only a single room, and sometimes stream to my phone.

That is more than enough hardware to run your library.
Though remember that your streaming library is included in the size as Roon treat’s streaming library the same as a local library. You are unlikely to be able to buy a Nuc without CPU, so should look at a quiet motherboard and a case and a small M.2 drive for running Roon on. You need to think about the host OS for holding your Roon database.

So you would ideally do this through a streamer, and that can be anything from a raspberry Pi to iFi Zen Stream, so plan to spend a minimum of a couple of hundred pounds.

The Argon Solo looks very good and that will stream from your Roon Core over your network. Given the current price of Pi’s this is about as cheap as it gets.

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Ok, thank you for the advice! I will look into the smallest possible ‘regular’ solution with the i3.

Would it not be possible to just place the resulting system next to my stereo, and use it both as server and streamer?
Otherwise I have a RPi3 here, maybe that could work.

Keep in mind when that in Roon your library size includes any tracks local or streaming, as streaming tracks added to your library incur the same database cost as local files.

Combining server and streamer could work. But it depends on the inputs you have on your amplifier what route you can take, I think. You could use a barebone with usb out. The analog audio often isn’t of a “Roon quality level” IMHO. I found some on the Dutch site I often use:
Barebones vergelijken & kopen - Tweakers

Or you could build a small box with a motherboard that has digital out.

Good luck with your search!

You need to find a motherboard with a 8/9th gen SOC. They may still be around but your choices will be limited. M.2 storage for your Roon core (128 or 256). Additional storage on 2.5 inch SSD or HDD for your music if you have any. Choose an m-ITX board and case, if you find one with and expansion slot all the better. You can use that for a decent USB card that will allow connection via USB to a DAC. Search the MOCK threads for hardware that runs the OS designed for NUCs. It will simplify matters no end.

What are you talking about? Did you check the i3-9100 specs and benchmarks? Or did you see i3 and just assume? Well, that i3 is a 65 W TDP desktop processor. And it is more capable than the i7 laptop processor in the Nucleus Plus. Try that comparison.

People, stop thinking simply that i7 > i5 > i3 > Pentium. Nothing is automatic. Many other factors enter the equation.