I’m considering a subscription to Roon and I’m wondering where my best option would be to install Roon Core.
My options are:
- iMac 5K Retina late 2015, 3.2 GHz i5, 32 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SS drive.
- Mac Mini late 2014, 2.6 GHz core i5, 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SATA drive
- Synology NAS DS218+, INTEL Celeron J3355, 2 GB of RAM
- MacBook Pro, Earlt 2013, 2.4GHz i7, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SS drive
Obviously the iMac is the best option, but this is my main graphic design workstation and I’d rather not use it if I don’t have to. The NAS would need an external SSD drive since there is not a spare bay for an internal one. And the Mac Mini would run “headless” if that helps.
My library is roughly 20,000 tracks and I would only be streaming to one device at a time.
All good apart from the NAS which is underpowered.
Of those, I’d go with the MacBook Pro, provided you are doing it via ethernet.
Even though it’s old-ish, it’s at least an i7. I’d choose it mostly because it has the SS drive and options 2 and 3 don’t.
I suspect the NAS would be fairly dreadful with the Celeron and no SSD. The Mini would likely be good too if you had an SSD drive in it.
I would say, something that can be dedicated to Roon only.
Mac Mini, particularly if you can dedicate it to Roon.
And if you do, scout around on the web for all the things you can turn off or adjust in order to boost performance and decrease the system load. I’ve stripped mine down to the bare essentials.Oh, and see about replacing the noisy SMPS with a quality LPS.
You can add a SATA SSD to the Mac Mini. You’d need to check the exact model to see whether you can add an even faster PCIe SSD.
Since you’re starting a trial go with the MacBook Pro as this will give the best performance while you’re deciding on a subscription. If you sign up for ROON, consider using the Mini as a dedicated Roon Core but add a PCIe SSD–this isn’t straightforward though so you may need to take it to a computer repair shop.
How do things work on a stock Mac Mini as far as Roon DataBase? The several versions of Roon I’ve had were always on SSD drives (ROCK now, CAPS server previous, and a MacBook Pro on SSD). Does a ‘stock’ Mini have any SSD, is that a mod, or hasn’t been an issue for the stock Minis?
My understanding is the SSD is critical for Roon Database. ROCK is fairly obsessive about this. But my experience is limited and don’t know how the Mini works.
AFAIK the late 2014 mini has space for a PCIe SSD and a SATA drive. The PCIe drive is optional (according to the tare-down I checked) and the OP states a 1TB SATA (fusion drive.) The database needs to be on an SSD.
Thanks Rob. The Mac Mini would be dedicated to running Roon only. What did you do to yours to strip it down to boost performance? Does your Mini have an SSD boot drive?
Thanks for the info Scott. Dumb question here… does the MBP need to open/awake for Roon to do it’s thing, or can it be closed/sleeping?
That’s a Mac thing. I’m certain it needs to be awake, and if you close the cover it would normally go ‘to sleep’. I don’t know if there are programs to over ride that. Probably are.
Just know that when Roon does certain things (like initially setting up the database) it is working like a dog and it will put a hurtin’ on your CPU. So it might be best to keep it open then just for cooling. That is the reason behind keeping the lid open, I believe.
I have a late 2012 Mac Mini with max memory and an internal SSD. Mojo Audio pulled out the SMPS and replaced it with a Joule 5 LPS, which was a huge improvement. I think Uptone Audio can also do this.
It used to sit on the rack, feeding first USB to a PS Audio DirectStream, later USB to the Matrix for I2S to the DSD. Recently, though, I put an ultraRendu endpoint on the rack and moved the Mac Mini to another room.
The Mini is set to start up with a minimal configuration, fire up Roon Core, and it just sits there, lonely and headless, until I play something on Roon, sending output over Ethernet to the ultraRendu. Pretty nifty, and each step was an improvement (especially the Matrix).
Optimizing the Mini for Audio is just taking steps to eliminate processes that a general-use computer normally runs, but are either useless for audio, or particularly damaging to the mission at hand. Some steps are easy, others require potentially dangerous command entries on Terminal.
Check the for Mac Mini Server FAQs at Mojo Audio
This looks good, too.
I second Scott’s recommendation that you keep the MBP open. I believe everything would come to a screeching halt if it’s closed.
I had considered running on our MBP, but then thought the Mini would be a better approach.
Do you have to add the SSD? What exactly is ‘stock’ and what does one need to modify (if anything?)
I guess that ‘stock’ is whatever your purchased Mini comes with.
In my case, I specifically looked for an older 2012 based on Steve Nugent’s (Emperical Audio) recommendations. From there, I had Ben Zwickel from Mojo Audio upgrade the power supply, install an SSD, and quiet down an external FireWire drive holding my library.
That was a number of years ago. I’ve since replaced the FireWire disk with a small external SSD. Fanless and silent.
I haven’t kept up, but I believe the more current models of the Mini are harder to modify, but Mojo Audio and Uptone Audio seem to still be modding. It seems that Mojo also offers a DIY kit, and suggests a difference between older and more current models.
All in all, the modded Mini runs like a champ.
Hope this helps.
Thanks everyone for all the advice. I’m going to try Roon on my iMac since that has all the needed specs. If I decide to buy a Roon subscription I will look into adding a SSD to my Mac Mini and run it there. The NAS is not powerful enough and the MBP needs to be open active and hard wired to ethernet so that is not an option either.
If the Mini has a fusion drive you can split it to SSD and SATA and use the much smaller SSD for boot drive and Roon Server and then the 1TB SATA drive for music.
Fusion drive IMHO were a disaster waiting to happen anyway.
if its a SATA only mini then just replace it with an SSD - plenty of how too on the web to do this Macsales.com fixit.com etc
I went for a refurbished Windows 10 Pro PC based on the i5 3470, with a 240GB SSD and 8GB memory - my collection is around 80k tracks and I stream to upto 3 devices at any one time. The PC is not the fastest in the world but seems sufficient for running roon including upsampling to my streaming devices. I use the PC purely as a rooncore device - all in the PC cost under £200 so not too expensive.
Mac mini would be a good choice if it’s not needed for anything else.