NAS, NUC, dedicated server or CPU Tower to run Core

Hi all

Please go easy with me as I am new to all this and to be honest I am finding it all quite difficult to understand. I am sure I will be asking some really silly questions so apologies in advance :grinning:

I have just bought the Arcam SA30 and use it solely for streaming with Tidal. I do not have any music stored anywhere. IMO, sonically the amp is excellent, however, Arcams Musiclife app is absolutely dreadful. So I signed up for the Roon trial and I really like it. Currently I am using an old laptop for the Core which on the whole has been working ok but a little buggy at times.

So I figure that I will need a dedicated device to run the Core - this is where I am getting a bit confused.

  • Do I need a NUC, NAS or can I simply build a new tower?

  • From what I can tell it would be far cheaper to buy a new tower. Are they inferior to other options and if not, why doesn’t everyone else use this cheaper method?

  • I intend to use Roons DSP. Does this mean that I will need i7 or would i5 be sufficient?

  • The SA30 uses Dirac rew. Will this affect performance?

  • (this bit really confuses me) Am I right in saying that ROCK is an operating system. So if I was to use a pc/laptop for the Core I would be using the Windows OS. But if I used a device which did not have an OS installed then I would use ROCK?

I am looking for the cheapest option and my budget is up to £500.

Again, I appreciate that to the vast majority of you this is all fairly simple stuff so I apologise for my silly questions. I’ll get there in the end!!


Hi Craig.

I personally use a tower, but you can use more or less whatever suits you regarding NUC, NAS or tower.

How do you plan on using Roon? If you only plan to use content from Tidal, a NUC will suffice. If you have a collection you want to listen to as well as Tidal content, a NAS or tower is probably a better solution, depending on you library size.

I guess most people use NUCs or NASs because they are a lot smaller and easier to deal with than a complete tower, where you would need to assemble the motherboard, cpu, ram, psu, harddrives etc. My preference of a tower is due to that I run alot of other services on the machine, and not just Roon.

I’ve only played around a little with the DSP in Roon but use volume leveling on all the music I listen to. My tower uses an i5-6500 and I’ve had no performance issues related to the cpu.

You are correct regarding ROCK. If you installed ROCK on a NUC, its OS would be ROCK.


Thanks for your input.

As it stands I do not have a music library on file and I can’t see that changing. I never buy CD’s anymore so don’t envisage me ever ripping cd’s to make a collection. I am very happy with Tidal, their service, library and formats so will continue to listen to all my music through them.

Whichever device I purchase it’s sole purpose will be to run Roon Core. So to keep costs down, I could leave it without an OS and just use ROCK?

With regard to DSP I am trying to get my head around what all of it does and impliment it the best I can. It may be that eventually I decide it is not for me but initially I would want soemthing that can run it with no issues.

You mentioned you use your laptop atm. What sort of device do you plan on using as a “remote” in the long run? Tablet, cellphone, laptop or something else?

You could definitely get a device without an OS and just use ROCK.

Initially I was using my Samsung S10 but yesterday I bought an Amazon Fire 8 which is solely to be used as the controller. A lot of people were advising on an iPad but it just seemed far too much money just to be used as a controller. For the little money that the Fire 8 cost, I think it is ideal for what I need.

So a NUC is looking like it could be the way to go. I have just been looking at the 8i5BEK with the following:

  • 8GB DDR4 memory
  • 128GB M.2 Sata SSD

Do you think that this would be sufficient for my needs. Or would you be going for the i7?

Actually, ROCK (Roon Optimized Core Kit) is a specific build using a ‘closed unit’ Roon-supported NUC which runs RoonOS as the operating system. Builds using the RoonOS on other non-supported PCs are referred to as MOCKs.

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The NUCs can also run Roon with Windows installed. If you are very comfortable with Windows you can start there and switch over to ROCK later on. If you read the forum you’ll see a bias to running ROCK. But that does not mean Roon won’t run great on a NUC with Windows. It does, and there are certain advantages to doing it that way.

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Hello Craig, welcome to the community. It looks like the BEK is the slim version and that would be fine if you have no intentions of adding an internal Sata drive for music storage. 8GB should be plenty of Ram. I would go with the m.2 NVMe over Sata because the interface is much faster.

With Rock running on the NUC Roon will provide all the OS and Software updates so no concerns with windows updates getting in the way.

I have the NUC8I7BEH with 16gb ram, M.2 NVMe 250GB, Sata 1TB for internal storage. It’s tucked away in my media closet out of site and out of mind. Overkill for my needs but always available.

Yes, an i3 or i5 is plenty for what you describe. You’ll find the heaviest CPU use in two instances. First, when you first set Roon up and it scans your library and does audio analysis. Since your library is so small. That’s not an issue.
Doing DSP and upsampling to DSD would likely be the most CPU intensive thing you could do. If you are just doing this to one endpoint at a time, even an i3 will handle it. Prioritize single core speed against multicore processing in this instance. In these situations the i3 and the i7 give almost identical performance.

Thanks for your input. So the i3 would be fine, that’s good to know because they are cheaper. I will take a look now.

Hi Mike

As it is purely to be used for Roon and I am going to install ROCK I probably won’t bother getting Windows installed. This is simply to save on cost - do you think that this would be a mistake?

@Mike_LC @grossmsj @Espen

Maybe something like this i3:


  • 8GB DDR4 Memory
  • 128GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD

Or this i5:


  • 8GB DDR4 Memory
  • 128GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD

So either of the above would do what I need with no issues. Simply stream music using Tidal and using DSP?

Hi Mike

I have just seen this on another post: “Beware that you cannot use NVMe to boot ROCK on NUC5. You’ll have to use SATA.”

Yes, that’s fine. For your peace of mind, check out this comparison @simon_pepper did, older i3 against my 8th generation i7.

I just got the plain old M.2 SATA. Get a good one like the Samsung 860 EVO M.2 series.

I personnel think Rock is the way to go for the music server, no windows updates or issues. Others want windows or whatever usually so they can use the device for more than just Roon. The i3 or i5 would be all you need.

I think the post you mentioned about problems with NVMe and Rock is old. I’ve been using a NVMe drive from the start and have not had any issues related to hardware in over a year of use. Just seems right to me to have the Roon OS and Database available on the faster interface.

I would suggest going with Samsung m.2 drive if at all possible. There were some issues with the last OS update and as I recall it was only a problem with lower quality drives. There are other quality drives but I use Samsung for peace of mind.

@grossmsj @Mike_LC

So this is what I am going to buy. Is this ok?



  • 8GB DDR4 Memory

M.2 Storage:

  • 128GB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD

2.5" Secondary Storage:

  • 1TB 2.5" HDD (I know it’s a bit dated but they throw this in for free)

Operating System:

  • No OS

If that NUC is in the Roon recommended list then it will be fine.

The HDD will be fine for music storage.

Rock includes the Roon configured Linux OS with the software. No other OS will be needed.


The 1 TB HDD is strictly not necessary if you are dead set on not having a local library, but fine if it adds no additional cost.

@Espen @Mike_LC @grossmsj

Thanks for all your help guys.

I have just ordered the NUC7i3DNHE so hopefully that will work fine.

I’m sure that I’ll have many more questions as soon as it arrives :grinning:

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