List Your NUC Capabilities Here

People are often asking for NUC suggestions without knowing how much capability they need, and Roon Guidelines are limited. Please list your NUC setup, how it’s being used, and some indication of performance (for example, Signal Path Processing Speed) during intensive use. Here is an example from @ged_hickman1

I bought a second hand NUC 7i5 and it handles my 40k library and does DSP to multiple zones fine. Currently showing 60x processing speed streaming to 5 zones doing DSP on 3 of them.

Please try to keep side discussions minimal so ROCK shoppers can easily find the information they need to spec their NUC to their needs.


Full details
Intel NUC 7th Gen Mini PC, NUC7i5DNKE, 2.6GHz, i5, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 120GB M2 SSD

@ged_hickman1 is that 40k albums or 40k tracks? Makes quite a difference regarding requirements, I guess :slight_smile:

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NUC8i7BEH 2.7 GHz CPU, 8GB RAM, 250GB M2 SSD

24K Track Library w/ Tidal, Qobuz

Play to 3 zones, 24bit file Convolution Filter shows 54X processing speed. With Sample Rate Conversion to DSD256 and Convolution Filter, drops to 2.4X processing speed.

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NUC5i3 2GHz 15W CPU, 8GB, 240GB SATA SSD

Running networked only (not plugged into a DAC or local USB disks, library is on NAS)
2 main zones used

  • ‘Chromecast Group’ for Chromecast Audio and Bathroom Speaker (Chromecast based)

  • RoonReady UltraRendu running SonoreUPnP Bridge & XMOS based USB->S/PDIF into Naim NDS network player (Ethernet input preferred)

Hardly ever see a processing metric in the playback path as only DSP requirement is for down-converting the small number of DSD128, DSD256 and 24/384 files I have back to 24/192 or DSD64.

ROCK solid, if you excuse the pun, with uptime between reboots or server restarts being weeks.


NUC 7i5BNH with 8gb RAM, 256gb M.2 and 1tb internal SSD. 51k tracks, no DSP used (I think native sounds best).

I did recently go from an external OWC 2.5" external USB 3.0 HD to an internal WD Blue SSD HD, and the internal SSD sounds better and is snappier in performance, imo.

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May be you need to establish a benchmark, re relative processing speed, to understand what the CPU power of a NUC does for a ROCK based Roon server.

So take a 16/44.1 redbook file (FLAC with level 5 compression) and convert to:

  1. 24/96
  2. 24/192 (if endpoint supports)
  3. 24/384 (if endpoint supports)
  4. DSD64 (if endpoint supports)
  5. DSD128 (if endpoint supports)
  6. DSD256 (if endpoint supports)
  7. DSD512 ((if endpoint supports)
  8. REW file processing for room correction (but this is not a straight forward processing as file format conversion)

Then for someone wanting to select the NUC hardware to run ROCK can, determine what level of DSP they require, and then what hardware platform suffices.

As far as I understand RAM doesn’t make a difference until a certain library size, and then the advice is to run a i7 NUC with 16/32GB on Windows.
Same with the SSD for OS and Roon DB re its size or type
So the only other factor that will need to be declared is library location (NAS or local USB) and if local connection type and type of disk (SSD or HDD).
However with enough data, you could have enough permutations and combinations to get some meaningful analysis.

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That’s a good idea Simon. I’ll do that later.
Hard to know what people will really want. I just about never do DSD conversion but always do Convolution. Hoping the diversity of postings can help any individual user’s needs.

Maybe also throw some MQA processing in there - however I don’t ever see any processing speed indicator, when unfolding any MQA, even on the MQA 352.8KHz files I have locally stored.

On the room correction processing - maybe someone could offer their file as example reference, or a basic, medium or complex version (don’t understand enough about the processing of determining room correction measurement here, as I have never wanted additional processing on the music)

Tracks!! Apologies.

Only time I see the processing speed displayed is when DSP is being used. I have the same basic setup as @grossmsj but with 16gb ram. I’m only familiar with Windows OS and was told the more memory the less paging out to virtual memory on your primary ssd/hdd. May not be a factor with Linux or Rock but that is why I went with 16gb ram.

With DSP engaged I have noticed the processing speed start at 90x on a track and drop as more complex material is processed. The lowest I’ve detected is 10x.

No problem Ged, thanks! :smiley:

NUC5i3 2GHz 15W CPU, 8GB, 240GB SATA SSD

Running networked only (not plugged into a DAC or local USB disks, library is on NAS)

So playback of a 16/44.1 Redbook file, to 'Max PCM (Power of 2) is 21.1x

Playback to Max PCM which is 24/192 is 15.3x

Playback of DSD64 with PCM conversion to Max PCM rate is 7.4x

Playback of DSD128 with PCM conversion to Max PCM rate is 4.1x

Playback of DSD256 with PCM conversion to Max PCM rate is 2.9x

Playback of MQA 352.8KHz to Max PCM rate is 8.6x

Playback of 24/352.8 to Max PCM rate is 9x

However everything plays.
BTW only have 4 DSD256, 9 DSD128, 4 24/352.8 and 2 MQA 352.8KHz albums in the library of nearly 6,500, where only 50% are 24-bit HiRes.
Plus no-one has ever given a good answer on why would you want to upsample Redbook formats, nevermind to DSD256 (remember if the information isn’t there to begin with, you can’t add it in through post recording processing).

Further measurements

Ok, since much of the discussion on DSP is ‘upsampling’ to DSD, this is 16/44.1 to DSD64, which is 7.3x

Going from a HiRes PCM to DSD64 is 6.6x

Parallelize Sigma-Delta Modulator had a predictable effect, using both cores to ‘upsample’ 24/192 to DSD64 was 7.2x, unsettling it and one using one core, processing speed was 3.6x

‘Upsampling’ 24/192 PCM to DSD128 was 4.3x (both cores)
I had to change the capabilities of the Endpoint to raise it to DSD128

However this was still being converted on the NUC5i3


Most DACS oversample so the theory is it takes that out of the equation so DAC does less work and may improve SQ as a result of you upsample to the DACs internal rate. PS Audio DACs upsample massively. Chords Mscaler is essentially a hardware upscaler and it’s supposed to sound awesome, so there must be some advantages in certain situations. I found Upsampling to DSD can sometimes make the source sound much more analogue in nature and it’s easier to listen to. I found I liked it more for some music where others it had the opposite. So I gave up in the end.

As much as I tried to compare measurements to @simon_pepper’s post above, I couldn’t get a good head to head comparison for various reasons. So here are some cases where performance was tested on a NUC8i7 running ROCK:
(All comparisons done with 24/88 Daft Punk Random Access Memories)
Convolution Filter running on one Zone 60X
Convolution Filter running on two Zones 54X
Convolution Filter running on three Zones 43X
(This was a real surprise to me. I haven’t done this before but I found it odd that running convolution filter DSP on three zones ran almost as fast as 1 zone. I guess that is a benefit of a quad core processor on the i7?)
Playing DSD64 file (Santana Abraxas), no convolution > 100
Playing DSD64 file with convolution to one zone 3X
Upsampling to DSD with no Convolution DSP
DSD64 3.8X
DSD128 2.8X
DSD256 2.1X
Convolution Filter, upsampling to DSD256 1.9X

For the record, I don’t prefer DSD upsampling. I like the way my DAC does things itself.

It would be very helpful for this thread if someone could post conditions that either an i3 or i7 processor choked on.

How about this?

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That’s very interesting as I have just ran some measurements on ‘upsampling’ to DSD64 & then DSD128

The NUC5i3 measured 7x for DSD64 and 4.3x for DSD128
These seem to be higher than your NUC8i7

That’s a treasure chest Mikael!

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Not sure what that is due to. I was using a 24 bit file. But it could be something about my DAC (native DSD processing in 32 bit path) too.
@Mikael_Ollars spreadsheet is instructive. Certainly under some circumstances performance from i3 and i7 are similar. And actually, it almost doesn’t matter what the ‘speed’ rating is as long as it is manageable (>2). What’s really important is what one CPU is able to do when another CPU can’t do it. I’d love to see that.
I couldn’t come up with a scenario where the NUC8i7 couldn’t handle it. But I’ve seen a thread where upsampling to 5.1 signal path couldn’t be done.

Just added my NUC5i3 to the sheet, and with my library and the measurements taken last night, is giving as good equivalent results as the NUC8i3 (240Gb Kingston m.2 PCI) and NUC7i3 (with Samsung 970 Evo NVMe 250Gb m.2) listed, and just as good as the NUC7i5 (with Samsung 960 M2 SSD).

So it looks like, based on these measurements and statistics that ROCK doesn’t need the additional CPU performance of later NUC generations or faster i5 or i7 processors, or NVMe based SSDs - it is holding its own on a 15W 5th Gen NUC i3 CPU from 2015.

Plus I have still have a NUC5i3 for sale here (a spare, all built with the same components as measured here), advert updated to include these results see FS: NUC5i3 ROCK server

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