June 2022 - Inexpensive Core Device Recommendations?

I’m very low-tech and don’t understand most of what I’ve seen in the other core device recommendation threads.

Is there a general recommendation for:

  1. An inexpensive, always-on, device to house my Roon core (like a rasberry pi, or similar?)
  2. It would need to throw the desktop app to an iPad, TV, or computer monitor (or can I have the desktop software installed on my laptop and link it… to the core device?)
  3. My local library is 800 tracks, and I stream it and TIDAL to a Sonos Arc “5.1.2” home theater endpoint (think I’m using the correct terminology, here?) - that’s it; very minimal needs.

Thanks, good people!

Have you read this?

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The Roon core runs on a computer device, not a Raspberry Pi, or iPhone, or iPad, or tablet, etc.

You can run the Roon core on a laptop, desktop, Mac, Mac Mini, etc. if it is powerful enough and meets the Roon minimum specs. Or you can purchase a Roon Nucleus or build a NUC. There are some other computer devices you can purchase also.

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  1. You need an Intel x86 device to run the Core on, so no Pi (which is an ARM device). A small normal PC will do, it doesn’t take much horsepower. Like an Intel i3. Or a Mac Mini. Go to Best Buy or Amazon or eBay and pick out something. I’d get 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of disk, more if you want to keep the tracks on that machine, too. To begin with, you could just install on the machine you are already using. Just to try it out.

  2. The UI app can be installed on a tablet, phone, or PC, any or all of them.

  3. Sonos is supported by Roon, should work fine.

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Hi Joshua,

A lot of Roon users run the core on an Intel NUC. You can install ROCK on it which is a dedicated operation system with Roon Core on it. You can manage it in a webbrowser. It functions more like an appliance after installing. See https://help.roonlabs.com/portal/en/kb/articles/roon-optimized-core-kit for more info
If you have a hdmi port on the Nuc you can connect it directly to your Sonos.

You can have Roon (Remote) on your laptop and/or on your phone to control the playback.

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  • I have Roon on my laptop, currently, and love it!
  • Want to move the core to a dedicated device
  • Was hoping for something less expensive than a multi-hundred dollar computer.
  • Right - I can use the remote app UI that I have on my iPhone
  • Indeed, Sonos works great in my current Roon setup.

Thanks, @Bill_Janssen

Ah, I will check this out @Joost_Hoogland ! I’ve seen a NUC mentioned alot and have not run down what it is, but will now do so with your link. Thank you!

I have not, this is great. Thanks @BCBC

When I was first evaluating Roon I installed ROCK (or MOCK as it’s not a NUC) on an old i5 PC I had lying around with 8GB of RAM and a 120 GB SSD. An old computer like this can be found for under $100 just need to add the SSD for about $30. It ran well with my library of 35,000 local tracks and about 10,000 Tidal.

Wanting to use more DSP and run multiple endpoints I bought a used 2012 Mac Mini 16GB, 500GB SSD, 1TB HDD for $350 Canadian and am running Roon Server now to 8 endpoints, often 3 at the same time. Depending on your budget there are many inexpensive options for the Core. If support for the Mac Mini is dropped I can always install Linux on it and continue with Roon. I’ve had no issues with the Mini at all.


Indeed, @BCBC I found two minis locally, for under $200 that meet the Roon specs. Probably going to go for one of them

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That’s great. Make sure they have an SSD and a minimum of 8 GB of RAM and can run a minimum of Catalina. Mine is an i7 but an i5 will work just as well. The Core Mini runs Roon Server which consumes fewer resources than Roon.

Scroll down on this page to locate it. All management is then done by Roon on your other devices.

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Yep, think the below will fit the bill. $250 including the key/mouse, 2014 model. Thanks @BCBC

What does your below mean?

No SSD startup drive just a 1TB HDD. Roon will not work well without SSD as startup drive.
Possible to boot from an SSD in an external case though.

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Ooh; great catch @BCBC . I would have bought this. Don’t want to mess with , yet another gizmo for correct start up drive- grateful thank you!

Often the older Mini servers have both SSD and HDD installed or the previous owner had the HDD replaced with an SSD. Still, nothing older than a 2012 Mini.

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Sure it will. Lots of folks are running on even older Mac Minis. in 2018, I was running on a 2010 Mac Mini with no SSD whatever. Heck, right now I run my Core on an underpowered NAS with no SSD drives in it. Roon recommends having an SSD drive for the database, but it’s not a requirement, and even that can be satisfied with a thumb drive in one of the USB slots.

Where do these mythologies come from?

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From the Roon Labs website.


It’s not a mythology it’s the recommended specification it’s not good to recommend a system that is knowingly under the minimum.


What is the real-world downside to the above mini as seen in my snips, with HDD only (if I don’t want to mess with a side-boot SSD)? I really like this guy’s deal, because he throws in a key/mouse. It’s a 2014 model.

Personally, I haven’t seen a downside. “Recommended” is not the same as “required”. I don’t do a lot of fancy upscaling or DSP, and I don’t play much that isn’t standard CD format, so there’s not that much going on on my Core.

If I do see a downside, I’ll add an SSD. But so far that hasn’t been necessary.

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So not the same as my use with DSP and multiple endpoints. I agree with ged, why invest in a system that doesn’t meet minimum requirements.


Appreciate the dialectic, Gentlemen!