Building a new NUC Roon Server

Hi fellow Roon fans. I am looking to upgrade from Roon server running on a non-dedicated Windows laptop (buggy, slow) to a dedicated Intel NUC with a dedicated ROCK install of Roon OS. This is going into a fairly high-end system and will stream over my network to the Bridge card in a PS Audio DirectStream DAC or directly from the NUC to the DAC via USB. Sound quality optimization is a top priority.

I got some great advice from the guys in the Roon Enthusiast Group on FB and figured I should check in here for some advice as well. I’ve settled on this spec for the NUC, which seems to be about the best supported configuration:

Intel NUC8i7BEH
G.Skill Ripjaws 16GB RAM (2 X 8GB)
Samsung 970 EVO PLUS M.2 2280 250GB SSD
Samsung 860 EVO 2.5" 1TB SATA III SSD
No operating system

A few questions I have regarding this project:

  • I do not need any OS installed in order to install Roon OS?
  • This set-up should be comparable to or better than a Roon Nucleus+ (at 1/3 the price)?
  • Should I upgrade the power supply on the NUC and if so, any recommendations?
  • Which will sound better, network connection to the PS Audio Bridge or direct USB connection from the NUC to the PS DAC?
  • Any other recommendations to optimize this set up?

Thanks in advance for any advice shared!



Hi Jeff,

If you’re going with ROCK on a NUC, you won’t need any other OS. And yes, this should be comparable to a Nucleus+.

If you plan to place the NUC near your listening space, maybe the possible fan noise would be of concern. Others for this reason have opted to place the NUC board into a passively cooled silent case, like those offered by Akasa.

I have opted for another way; I assembled a passively cooled Media PC, using an ASUS mini-ITX board, 16 GB RAM, a Samsung 970 EVO Plus M.2 disk and a Samsung 860 EVO 2.5" SATA SSD, like the ones you mention in your post. For this project I have used a chassis by HDPLEX because they are extremely well done and look nice to me. They also offer a chassis model (the H1V3) with a NUC kit, to place a NUC board in it and have it passively cooled without any fans. They offer several very nice power supply options, even linear power supplies if you are so inclined. I am running this PC with Ubuntu Linux and Roon Server, but it could of course be run with any Linux flavour or, indeed, Windows. I simply use Linux for the ease of remote administration of a headless machine without connected keyboard or monitor.

I think that after all this decision is about ease of assemblage and administration, with ROCK offering the ease-of-use experience of an appliance. But I would not miss the luxury of a nice case where I could easily install up to four SSD drives, and where I have installed a S/PDIF bracket to have Toslink and Coax digital out, and the flexibility of a full-fledged OS where I can install other software should need be. My PC is online 24/7, and I am very happy with this setup.


No, it is the OS.

Comparable. The Nucleus uses an Intel motherboard and runs the same Roon OS, with some additions that are not needed for the NUC.

I believe that Roon does not suggest upgrading the power supply. If you search the forums you should find the threads discussing it.

“Sound better” questions can only really be answered by you through your own listening trials.

Personally, I use external usb drives rather than adding an internal SSD. No performance difference. No sound difference. Easier to load music from another PC than transfer over the network. But, that is me.


The Nuc you specified here is exactly what I have, same ram and drives. It works great all the time. I haven’t heard the fan but I have mine in a media closet. The only time I lay eyes on it is when I ripping new cd’s with the USB attached Disc drive. The nucleus + does have 2 HDMI ports which i would love to have but I get by with one. Good luck on the build and welcome to the group.


I also have a NUC8i7BEH that I have been using for 3-4 months now. I am using a different brand of RAM (makes no difference), but I am using the same M.2 SSD and the same SATA SSD, but I am using the 4TB version. It is still in its original case because the fan only comes on when I am transferring new files to it and Roon is analyzing them. It never comes on during playback, even with PCM or DSD upsampling. When it does turn on, I don’t hear anything through my system. I use headphones so I don’t hear the fan at all when listening.

As others have said, only you can tell if using the bridge makes a difference or not. But at your level of gear, any differences are going to be small if they even occur at all.

In terms of power supply for the NUC, using a linear power supply with my SOtM bridge made more of a difference than when using it with the NUC, but the NUC did sound slightly better with a linear power supply feeding it. I currently have a dual output LPS feeding both the NUC and the SOtM bridge and this sounds best for my set up.

You are going to really enjoy your set up! Any improvements in sound quality are not going to be night and day. Just go step by step, trying individual upgrades to see what actually makes a difference to you. That way you know for sure exactly what is causing a SQ improvement or degrading SQ.

Have fun and good luck!

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Thanks everyone, this is great feedback. I’m going to move forward with the NUC.

Just latching onto this thread – hopefully not hijacking it… I’ve been running Roon Core on a Windows 10 laptop for about a year, and dealing with the Windows issues has been getting increasingly annoying, even though it is pretty much a dedicated device. So I’ve been pondering a NUC for a little bit, but have been held back by two issues: (1) Wanting to have a small display attached to or near the NUC so that people not handllng the iPad or other remote control device can know what’s playing. (I don’t want to display to a TV – to me, that’s too large and obtrusive a display, and actually detracts from the music). (2) I can currently play Atmos files (e.g., the recent Abbey Road multichannel remaster) via Windows, but AFAIK would not be able to do so via Roon Rock.

Anyone using an external display with a NUC, and if so, what kind and how? And anyone who has thoughts about playing Atmos files via Roon Rock?

Thanks in advance for any input!

If you are assuming that the NUC would be running ROCK (Roon OS), then this can’t be done directly - the HDMI connection on a NUC using ROCK does not deliver a “Roon Display”. It’s intended for audio only. The video channel is just used to deliver a simple text-based startup and diagnostic message.

You could have a separate RPi with a RPi touch displayscreen running Ropieee to act as a display device and simple control.

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Half a year ago, I started using a ROCK NUC as Roon server with similar specs, although I think I have 32 GB memory as pure luxury. I have followed the installation guide on the website by Roon. No problems until now and I am very satisfied. Searching the database with more than 10.000 albums takes less than a second.

Roon server had been connected to Topping D70 dac via USB. Upsampling even to DSD 512 had been easily possible although the fan of the NUC started blowing with some noise.

After several months I have upgraded the NUC with a compact passive case, see:
With this upgrade I think I have a nucleus+ in disguise.

During this upgrade I have sacrificed Wifi of the NUC by disconnecting the antenna of the NUC, because I only use ethernet.

This passive case causes that the processor of the NUC remains well below a healthy temperature of 50 degrees Celsius even during upsampling to DSD 512.

Nowadays I have a Roon Ready streamer - with internal upsampling facilities - in use (connected by ethernet and by USB in order to have a choice). Now I hardly use upsampling facilities and the Roon server is mainly connect by ethernet to the Roon Ready streamer via max. 192/24.

I don’t hear a significant difference between ethernet Roon endpoint connection and the direct connection via USB to Roon NUC. Using the upsampling in the streamer - or in the Roon NUC - makes the music a little more fluid and it enhances the sound stage with sacrificing some of the positioning of instruments on my HD 800S. With my Audeze LCD-2 I prefer Hires music without any upsampling.

In my configuration an upgrade of the power supply of the NUC is arguably hardly useful. If so, I would like to know an explanation of the “physics” for the improvement.

My NUC is connected to our family TV via HDMI channel 3. This channel 3 can only show upstart info and later the local IP-address of the NUC in the local network.

One side effect is, when I restart/upgrade the NUC from my PC in my study, the TV will switches automatically to channel 3.

Very basic album info can be derived by using the local IP address in a browser on a separate mobile/etc.

Maybe Roon may consider using the HDMI of the NUC also for album information as an option.

Many thanks to @Johannes_van_Leent and @Geoff_Coupe – much appreciated! Yes, my impression had been that NUC may not allow direct external display, but I hoped that someone had found a solution. I think the RPi option feels (for me) like one step too many.

But I think I have an old Windows 8 tablet lying around, and maybe that could serve as a web display. Will have to dust it off and test whether it works at all, and if so, whether it can do Roon web display. If so, that will remove one obstacle to moving to NUC. The Atmos issue is definitely very secondary for me, as I have all of two Atmos albums and have never even listened to one of them, and didn’t like the Atmos encoding of the other :wink:

Thanks again for the input –

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