Experience (bad) so far with 3 intel NUC used as Roon Core

So far I have used 4 intel NUC devices as Roon Core. You may well ask why did I used so many NUCs.

My first NUC was an i5 intended to replace my PC. It worked pretty well for some weeks and then it started to shutdown by itself. The same problem happened again and again, until I decided to ask for a replacement to the seller. The seller refunded the money instead of providing a new unit.

Then I decided to buy a new i7 NUC. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so much, the unit started to behave exactly like the i5, it shutdown from time to time for no apparent reason. When this happened I was unable to restart the machine until the power cord was removed. Same thing happened with both i5 and i7.

This time I contacted Intel support. They tried several things like memory and harddisk replacements, bios upgrade, etc. to no avail. So Intel decided to replace my i7 with a new one.

This third unit was working very well for about four months and then it refused to start, no matter I removed the power cord or not. New support ticket with intel who, again, decided to replace the unit.

Now I am on my fourth Intel NUC.

To be honest I am not very confident on this unit either. I have to admit the Intel support is great, but perhaps intel NUC is no so great? I would like to hear about your experiences using Intel NUC as Roon Core. Was it all right?

Over the years, I’ve bought 3 Intel NUC kits; two 6th generation (both i3) and one 7th generation (i5). The latter was transplanted into a fanless case, and is being used as my Roon Core.

All three systems have been running since they were bought, and have performed without any hardware issues.

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Sorry for your troubles! Just by contrast I have had a nuc 8i3 running pretty much non stop for two years and it hasn’t missed a beat. Let’s hope I have not put a hex on it now….

Forgot to say all the units were 10thGen, FNH Nuc series.

I have 2 of the 8i7’s here I use as desktops for myself and kids. I abuse hardware to put it lightly, it handles me fine.

Recently bought a used 5i5($200 16GbRAM/256SSD) and use it as a roonserver, it has been putting in the work too, runs great.

Is your system well ventilated? Is the power supply line clean power?

This is a good question. If you live in the sticks, or in a place with dirty, imperfect power, it can eat hard drives and other components.

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Hi did you try to upgrade the DRAM and the HDD for a SSD ?
I´m using as Asus mipc i5 (guess 8gen) with 32GB DRAM and a PCIe SSD.

got a lot of experience with Intel Nucs, Asus or Gigabyte mini pc and all worked perfect. the key is the balance, for example do not trust just in the cpu the ssd is much important as the cpu

A post was split to a new topic: Roon Server Support on NUCs

Did you buy new RAM and new drives every time? If yes, did you choose the same brand of RAM and SSD every time?

If not (i.e. reused some components), you need to suspect something is killing your NUC.

Are you using fanless chassis?

Is the NUC placed inside a shelf with no ventilation?

Do you live in an area with unstable power fluctuations?

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I’m going to echo the same things other posters are saying. Whenever we’ve found a trend of recurring failure its always environment. Mostly a lack of ventilation (device cooks itself) or faulty power. Once customer had Installed in a wood shop and case was full of sawdust (yes, it happened). Faulty power or killing power repeatedly without proper shutdown (one customer accidentally had a device on a switchable outlet so they effectively had a “power outage” every day when they left the office). I’ve seen people install things in windows (direct sunlight is bad, mkay?). I’ve seen condensation on equipment from super high humidity. I’ve seen equipment placed sideways on its exhaust slots. And, once, we had a guy who lived across the street from the highest power FM transmitter in town. That caused for some interesting failures.

It’s time to evaluate if the NuC is truly operating in an environment suitable for the device. Where is this installed? Is it on a UPS? What’s different than your PC (which I assume is / was stable?)

The NUC is installed on a clean environment. No sun, heat, humidity, vibrations,…and has plenty of space. It is placed over a sheet of glass. I never noticed it specially hot. It runs rather warm but nothing unusual.
Please note that intel is able to reproduce the same problem i describe when i send the unit to them. So unless i have been able to kill the unit i a matter of days i would bet on the two former nucs it was a factory fault. The last one has endured a larger period so is possible something has killed it.
Also the problem with the i5 and the first i7 was intermitent, while the last one had a more definitive problem. The same problem was reproduced at the seller home as well with a brand new unit, which was the reason they refunded money instead of replacing the unit. It was interesting that, in all cases, when the unit fails it shuts down with the power button led still on and there is no way to restart the Nuc unless power cord is removed. This behavior was consistently reproduced by the intel technician as well.
On the same power line i own other two pcs that run 24h a day without any problem.

Anecdotal but I’ve run three machines as Roon cores. Two NUCs and an M-ITX build. The ITX build suffered an M.2 drive failure (Intel 600). My original 5i5 purchased in 2017 is running ROCK in a new home. It was replaced with a 7i7 (same board as a rev A Nucleus). It’s owner posted here that it was becoming noisy before selling it elsewhere quite cheaply with memory and M.2. The noise was down to a fine layer of dust gathered in the interface between board and fan assembly. That did not matter to me because all of my machines are in passive cases. My i7 NUC has been up for 82 days since it’s last hard reboot. I use Roon several times a week and couldn’t be happier with NUCs as the core. One thing I’ll say is mine run cool but my library is only 800 CD’s.
My guess in your case would be environmental as suggested earlier. It would be interesting to know how hard you work them and if they are always on.

Thanks for your valuable reporting here. I’d like to ask you for some more details as your experience raises some concerns in me.
I’m running a i7 ( BXNUC10I7FNH2) NUC using ROCK for more than 8 months now without any issues so far. Also in my case the NUC runs rather cold, without fan noise. The fan only goes loud for about 30s when I add a new purchased album to my library. This is mainly because in my Roon settings I have selected to use 6cores for audio analysis (at least one use case justifying the i7 :blush: ). The local library has about 12k albums (more than 180k tracks) and is located on an externally plugged USB HDrive. Here my question: Do you use an internal drive that brings temperature high or is it an anomaly of a specific batch of 10gen NUCs? Did you get any insights from Intel? My NUC runs 24/7 and I use Roon daily. So far my NUC is ‘rock’ solid.

[Off Topic]
This reminds me of our repair staff discovering cockroaches inside a set top box.

For your next Roon Core I suggest using Windows, so that you can check the CPU temperature.

There are a number of threads about NUC overheating in other forums. Solutions typically include completely disassembling the thing and cleaning it, disable Turbo Boost, use a fanless chassis, etc.

By the way I never trusted thermal pad that came with a CPU. I always build my own desktop for use at home, and the first thing I do when I receive the CPU is to remove the thermal pad from the CPU, and use something more appropriate.

[Off topic] People also discover many graphics card manufacturers use really poor thermal pad even on really expensive graphic cards. If you replace the thermal pad by aftermarket $20 ones (but the procedure is very difficult to do right), the temperature can drop 10 degrees when pushed to the ultimate stress 7x24. This is a huge thing because over 100 degree is really not good for GPU.

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FWIW. I have a NUC10i3FNK buried in cupboard full of electrical stuff. It’s only ever stopped if I’ve asked it to

I was running ROCK on a NUC and it was totally unstable. It would lock up and I would have to cycle power to get it back up. I got Roon support involved and we could not figure anything out. Eventually I just went back to using my original windows PC. I got another nuc a year or so later and installed ROCK on it. It has been flawless for about a year.

The original nuc was just lying around. I put windows on it and attached to a TV as my internet portal. It was really unstable and frequently locked up. But it was used for watching Youtube and browsing the internet so stability was not a concern. Strangely, it gradually became more stable. After around 6 or 8 months, it became completely stable and now never locks up. I’ve never had a PC heal itself like that NUC (i7-7567U).

Is there a difference in ambient temperature between now and 6 to 8 months ago? Is the placement different?

Lock up (instead of crash) tends to be a hardware fault (or driver bug, but since this is NUC we’re talking about we can rule this out). CPU clock being too high (turbo boost) for a given voltage, power supply instability, RAM instability, drive instability, etc. With NUC, the first thing to do with lock up is to disable Turbo Boost.

I would also check the fan for dust clogging and perhaps the thermal compound on the cpu if you have the skills to disassemble. YouTube is your friend here.

I have the same Nuc board (7i7BNH?) running roon rock for many years in a Fanless case. NUCs are badly cooled and not exactly the best at high temp dissipation if things like dust block the fan or thermal compound is dried up or badly applied disputing manufacturing.

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Yes, that’s a common issue.