Most energy efficient way/machine to serve Roon Core

I’m still evaluating Roon on my old iMac 27" and I like how it improves music discovery inside my huge library. But the iMac has horrible energy efficiency. When using it for Roon Core it always has to be on to get instant access to the music in the house. The iMac burns lots of watts when doing just nothing but waiting.

The best computer for efficiency would be a Raspi Zero, but as I read it correctly, it is impossible to run the core. So next idea would be my iPad Pro which ist powerful and very energy efficient. It’s also very portable, has enough space but the iOS App does not come with the core.

So what about the NUCs? I read that the i7 consumes 15 watts on idle. That’s far too much in my opinion for just waiting 80% of the day. So could an old MacBook or a Mac mini (6 watts idle) be an better option?

Also I don’t know how efficient the core is. Does it deal with standby? Is it always calculating in background so that I won’t benefit from idle? Does Roon OS/ROCK support power management? On my iMac I often hear the fans, when Roon is launched.

My library has 50k songs and is constantly growing. I read, an i7 would be better in this case. I don’t understand in which case it’s better. Only for importing new stuff, or also for browsing and playback? I only need the DSP for volume normalization. I’m not an audiophile. I don’t hear differences between an 256kbit AAC or a 96/24 Flac file. :wink:

Thanks in advance for helping out.

I think an i3 nuc would handle what you do but you could always get an i5 if you are worried. I have had over 60000 tracks and an i3 handled it fine. I have pruned out some of the rubbish I collected over the years and don’t listen to (and have no desire to listen to) over the years :grinning:


Thanks, I’ll take a look on the i3 NUC. Do you know if the device will go in standby when no one is connected to it? Does the NUC support wake on lan when running ROCK?

According to the following guy’s home measurement (not scientific) it consumes 13.7W running Win 10 idle, with a display connected.

Running Roon OS only with no display and no USB drive attached I wouldn’t be surprised if the NUC7i7 consumes under 10W in idle mode - my unscientific guess. I saw Danny mention there were power management optimisations done with the Intel team when designing ROCK/Roon OS.

Maybe @danny can share the idle power consumptions (no music playing, no background audio analysis, no metedata fetching, no display connected, no USB drive attached) of the ROCK NUC7i3, i5 and i7? If he has them.

Thanks for the interesting link. Btw. can I install ROCK onto a NUC completely headless? I don’t have a display or TV.

Yep headless is the preferred way to use it. You do need a screen (via HDMI) and USB keyboard just for the initial setup though- but after that, headless operation.

Install instructions here:

Okay, there’s no way to use vnc or something similar?

Good question - I don’t know. Hopefully @danny can clarify this also.

The NUC7I5DNHE supports AMT/vPro. That could be an option if I can use it from Macs.

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The most energy efficient way to run Roon Core is to run ROCK on your chosen NUC. As ROCK boots up quite literally in a few seconds access will be near instant rather than instant but having the machine off when not in use is the right approach. It will power up using WOL and can be powered down using the admin webpage if you cannot get to the on-off switch easily.

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Hi @Henry_McLeod, thanks for the details. Good to know that ROCK is far more optimized then Roon/Core for macOS.

One more question: The Knowledge Base says:

Internal storage (for music content) WILL be reformatted, so don’t put your music on it and expect it to work… you will need to copy your music to it via the network share exposed, or via Roon drag/drop import

Does the reformatting happen only once on setup or also with updates?

Only on setup or if you select format from the settings tab on the Roon app, by the way I used my tv as a monitor when setting up Rock as I don’t have a pc monitor.

Okay, thanks. Btw. I even don’t have a TV, just an iMac. :wink: I’ll take the NUC to work for the first setup.

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Ok, no friends or neighbors? The setup takes about 10 minutes.
A really detailed install guide with download links here.

Today’s equivalent of showing up at the neighbor with a cup asking to borrow some sugar: show up with an HDMI cable, could I borrow a monitor?


That’s progress.

I just went to a very cheap and energy efficient MOCK server which performs really well. It is built around an Asus Prime J3355I-C barebone motherboard and an SSD for RoonDB and a 4Tb spinning 3.5” for music storage.
It is housed in a fanless Streacom chassi with the NanoPSU.
Since Roon does not spin down the drives as much as i’d like i doubt you will ever see below 10W idle, perhaps with solid state or a really efficient 2.5” drive?
Anyways this unit pulls 11-12W idle and up to 18W when maxing out its CPU upsampling RedBook to DSD256

11 Watt is too much for me. It should be at least as efficient as a Mac mini. The 2014 model already has 6 W in idle. I thought it could be better these days. Fascinating that Apple did so many things well four years ago. Maybe I should wait what Apple will show this year. The NUC is very pricey for just being an audio server. And it’s too ugly to place it in sight. :wink:

In addition I haven’t found a reasonable statement about its audio quality and how loud it gets when the CPU usage is at 100%.

I don’t understand what makes the Roon core such a ressource hog that it can’t run on a very powerful iPad Pro which can handle complex high res 3D graphics and Desktop class image editing.

Sorry for reviving this old thread, but I have had a similar question and considering that more than two years have passed, perhaps there are new developments.

I would like to create a fanless NUC running Rock and was wondering which of the supported NUC models are the most energy efficient (for saving energy and staying cool). I would assume that newer models may consume less power in actual use because of optimizations, but I saw that some 7th generation NUCs (e.g. NUC7i5DNHE) have a TDP of only 15W compared to 25W TDP of 8th and 10th generation models. Does anyone have some insight on this?

Hi there. I’ve bought the 15 TDP NUC with SSD only Storage. With ROCK the power consumption is okay, but it has now power saving features. I also don’t use Upsampling or Room Correction. Performance is not super fast with 50.000 songs but much better than iTunes/Music. When adding new files the Fan goes crazy for some time.

Today I would compare the NUC with an M1 Mac mini or maybe a new Apple Silicon Mac coming this fall. I haven’t found exact TDP values but I’ve read about 20 TDP. But the M1 is much more effective at doing nothing as Intel CPUs. I don’t know how good Roon will perform, but I’ll get a Test-Mac in some weeks.

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