Mac Mini Spec for Roon

Hi looking at setting up a room core I don’t see a thread for this. I am in Qatar just now so options are limited, standard Mac Mini specs. are available. Will the fusion 1TB HD do the job or would I need to try to get an additional SDD added.

the min specs are no different for windows or mac … but if its just for roon maybe you get a NUC and use with ROCK…whatever option an SSD is best for the boot drive. Music can be stored on either external USB or NAS, or other drives.

I would suggest an i5 16GB ram and SSD 128GB minimum size for Roon alone but it will depend on how big your library is and if you plan to use DSP functions, but if you need it for other things too then spec the disk space according tour other needs. Even a large library will only a modest amount of SSD space for the Roon databases.

I agree with the Wizard, definitely spec an SSD, max the RAM, and get the most processor you can afford. What else you do depends on how you are connecting to your DAC. If that Mac Mini is just going to be the core and stream from another room to your DAC, then you might consider a network link upgrade between your switch and the DAC using fiber optic connectors to to remove any noise from your network connection. If the Mac Mini will sit in your rack and be connected via USB, then you may want to consider some of the DIY upgrades from Mojo Audio

I assume that you are asking about the mac mini route as you are familiar with it as a platform or that of OSX/MACOS.

The macs these days are basically non upgradable for RAM, CPU and disk (SSD) once you buy them…so max what you can especially if it will be used for other things. but just for Roon, the minimum SSD and RAM will suffice, but 16GB will be better. SSD is a MUST HAVE.

Thanks the fusion drive for the core i5 mac mini now has only 24 G the rest of the 1 TB is regular HDD. Not sure what spec I can get in Qatar but I think you have to go for the i7 to get the 2 TB fusion which has 128 GB SDD i’ll check. I have a NAS which currently has my music library in Flac and Apple lossless.

Sounds like the NUC would be a more cost effective solution but not sure if I can source it in Qatar.

I was thinking of going for a Naim Uniti Atom or a Meridian 251 zone player in the long term. The Naim looks nice but the Meridian gives the option of a sub out with a high pass filter to the sat. speakers. Any other advice on good quality network player.


We don’t recommend the use of Fusion drives. The SSD component is basically a cache sitting on top of a much slower spinning HDD. I’ve read somewhere that it is possible to split the two into different partitions at the outset, but obviously this is an advanced option and you would need to reinstall the OS.

In short, unless you know what you are doing, get a dedicated SSD for holding the Roon library data. (Note that a Fusion drive is fine for storing music.)

Thanks looks like the Mac Mini option will be expensive 860 GBP for i5 8GB SDD 256. There are many small form factor PCs available on Amazon at reasonable price for equivalent spec are there any potential issues with these below is one example

Mine is a 2014 MacMini with MMK (external power supply upgrade), i5 2.6Ghz, 8GB RAM, 1 TB internal SSD.

I am booting MacOS High Sierra from a 128GB SD Card and use the internal drive for music storage. I know people say to keep discs out of the MacMini but I do not hear a difference and I tried.

Going out of the MacMini I am using iFi micro iUSB3.0 and so on.

With this setup I can run Roon or Roon core w/o HQ Player, or I can run Audirvana and any other OSX streaming client. Even upsampling with HQ Player to DSD128 - which is what my DAC can read at max - is no issue and flawless.

However, I have decided for Roon Core only and run Roon GUI from my Ipad or Macbook and I do not do any upsampling because my Digital Amp does the rest for me.

I cannot see any limitation to this MacMini setup and I know I would have to invest a few thousands to top this chain with regards to sound quality and then still my Digital Amp would do Clipping Control and resampling to 24/96 regardless.


Hi Christian,

I have a '14 Mac Mini w/ a 1 TB internal SSD as well and am interested in your implementation of the SD card. I’m extremely happy with how the Mini setup works as is, running straight into my Ayre QB-9 DSD via USB, but I wouldn’t mind re-aquiring the space taken up by system software on the internal drive.

Is your use of the SD card primarily for space saving on the internal, or is it a performance enhancement issue in other ways?

Anything special about the card you’re using…brand, transfer speed rating, etc? I assume it’s an SDXC card. And how do you have your internal drive formatted? No system software on it at all anymore?

Thanks in advance…

Hi Jonathan, I am using the SD card because I believe in keeping OS and tools/software separate from data/music back. When I started off with computer audio there has been a long thread about increasing mac mini sound quality on the Computeraudiophile-Forum including the so called “SD card trick”. That’s when I purchased a high quality / high speed SD card for testing and kept it this way.

The internal drive also has OSX installed so I could switch would I “loose” the SD-card.

Thank you for the further explanation, Chris. I’ve now got a 128GB 95MB/s SDXC card on order. Seems like a relatively inexpensive experiment & tweak.

I’m also going to look at potential power supply upgrade. Mojo Audio has (fairly) pricey DYI solution, but it seems that the Uptone MMK solution that you have may be much more affordable. You didn’t mention the actual power supply that you use for the MMK in your first post. May I ask, is it Uptone’s JS-2 as well? And do you know of any more cost effective options for the MMK?
Much appreciated…

I was using a similar setup as you guys 10 years ago running pure music, amarra, and then audirvana 2, using the best usb cable (audioquest diamond) to my external w4s dac2dsd. A few years ago, I was tired using my Mac mini in my dedicated audio room and the GUI apps for the Mac audio apps sucked. So I ditched the Mac setup and turned that Mac mini into a dedicated OS X server running roon, minimserver, and bubbleupnp. I switched to an auralic Aries streamer and it was much,better than the previous Mac setup. The Mac mini is 100 far away from my room and hooked to my 1G switched network. With the Aries, I was still using usb into the dac. Since usb is a terrible interface compared to say i2s, I decided to get rid of the auralic Aries and get the PS Audio directstream with bridge. Performance skyrocketed. Running roon with either my ripped music on the Mac or from tidal with MQA, things run smoothly with no gotchas.

Thanks for all the input. I haven’t bought anything yet but my options are limited for purchase in Qatar. I can only get Mac Mini with the Fusion drive or regular drive. So if I go for Mac then ill need to go the boot from SDD option. Alternatively wait till Feb and buy a NUC PC when I am in the USA. Also can anyone explain how the Core-server/NAS/end-point set up works does the server stream the data from the NAS then decode (add room correction if applied etc.) then pass to the end-point or does the NAS do some of the work. So, is there the potential for the NAS to degrade the quality of the audio stream. I have a basic NAS (WD MyBook) with my ripped CDs ( less than 1000). I could use this to store the music or use the regular HDD on Mac Mini to store the music and the NAS to back up the collection in case of disaster. If I get the NUC PC I could store all on SDD. Which component would be the limiting factor in the quality of the audio stream. I am planning to use a Naim Atom or Meridian 251 as the end point, again not yet purchased. Any views?


Hi Jonathan, I am using a Teddy Pardo PSU which is not as good as the JS-2 but a lot cheaper. i have just this weekend disconnected my internal MacMini SSD and moved the library to a NAS, which is the only client on a netgear switch together besides my MacMini. Sounds even better to my ears and Rick is right, this is all together quite an aged setup. I am looking at the other options mentioned on forums as money does not play a role for this (my only hobby;-) and I am waiting for what Apple is gonna do to the MacMini this year if anything…

FYI: there is no need to go to an ssd for storing there music, what a waste of money. Also, when you see vendors touting ssd for caching music, like the aurrender servers, IMO, that’s a gimmick.
I worked for a company that sells ssd to large corporations and ssd are great at doing certain things, playing music isn’t 1 of them.
The best server is 1 used out of the audio room. Never place a server in the room, that’s why you see people selling bridges which allow you to put a server in a different room/floor of your house.
Back to ssd, music files are so small, a good hard disk will read the full music file in 1/2 disk rotation. Also, when a server plays the file, it stores the file in real memory and it is played from real memory. So why would you want to use an expensive ssd to cache music? With ssd, you have so much overhead for writes called write am-lificarion, you also have to do system trims to clean up the ssd in the background, and the ssd is only good for X number of accesses then it’s useless, all this is determined on how good the ssd is. The cheap ssd that are used in pc’s/macs and in music servers, are the cheaper 1’s that don’t have the overprovisioning that your commercial ssd have.

I’m new to all of this and looking at trying Roon, but can I ask when people talk about Roon having a SSD drive and required for the Roon databases, with such a ssd as a minimum requirement, are you talking about conventional ssd drives in PCs. Eg Samsung evo.

I only ask as looking at the options on the Apple website, you can only spec a fusion drive which I note is not recommended and ssd drives of the ilk of the evo aren’t offered.

Does this mean you have to buy an off the shelf non Apple offered ssd drive. If so what type /make should you get for Roon to work to everything it should do. A 128 drive or double?

Many thanks for any help. Cheers Simon

you have options for Flash PCIe drives on both the 2.6 and 2.8GHz models, not on the basic one

Installing a third party SSD requires taking completely apart the Mac mini, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you know what you are doing plus… I’m not 100% sure you can (but can’t see why one could not) replace the stock HD in newer Minis (mine is the 2012 i7 quad-core model)

Hi first post looking to buy a late 2012 mac mini, two have popped up at the same price Apple Mac Mini 6,1/i5-3210/8GB Ram/256GB SSD+500GB HDD or i5-3210/16GB ram 256GB SDD
Would there be much difference in the two and which one would be the better buy,


On it’s face, it really seems a ‘horse a piece’ and dependent largely on your current needs for storage space and future plans for expansion. You don’t mention whether the 500Gb drive is internal or external. Internal mechanical drives are less ideal than SSD in this type of application due to more ‘noise’ from the drive potentially affecting sound quality. If it were me, I’d be more comfortable w the 16GB RAM version

Thanks yes it is internal so will go for ssd only due to noise issues.