New Mac mini vs Nuc

I need help I’m really computer dumb. My 2008 iMac has run Roon flawlessly for years wirelessly. I then hard wire from my Telus router to my Moon 390 zero issues until this week. I think the computer is on its way out.
I was thinking of putting a stock Mac mini in the cabinet below only running Roon. I have a hard drive external that all my music is on. What is the best and somewhat economical way to go and sound quality is champ here. The Roon nuc or a Mac mini. The Mac is cheaper. Thanks, Mike

SQ should not differ if hardware meets the requirements. Wondering if a decent NUC running ROCK wasn’t way cheaper than a Mini. Also you’d be fully compliant, almost a self-made Nucleus.

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A NUC with ROCK will boot much faster than even the newest M1 Mac. The Nucleus shouldn’t be any different in this case.

With macOS and an M1 you’ll have more advanced power management features but I don’t know, if Roon Server will prevent macOS from saving power.

In a NUC it’s much easier to replace the storage if you reach the limits, but I don’t know how easy it is with the Nucleus from Roon. For an M1 Mac it’s nearly impossible as there is no standard SSD built in and the controller which usually is shipped with a SSD is inside the M1 chip, so you have to replace the soldered memory chips.

In my case power consumption was the main reason to choose an i3 NUC from Intel instead of an Intel Mac with more TDP. Well, at that point only Intel Macs where available. Today I would choose a M1 Mac as it is more efficient (Performance per Watt) than any Intel CPU today.

If you have time, you should wait what Apple will present this year. Maybe they will redesign the Mac mini to be smaller or the coming M1X oder M2 CPUs are even more effective. Apple has just begun the switch to ARM so I’m sure there’s much more in their pipeline.

Thanks for the info so far. This Mac mini would only be used for Roon. The intel Nucs are hard to find in Canada now and computer shops claim they can’t build one right or understand why I only want this for audio. I would use my external hard drive as the library and wouldn’t use the internal SSD. I really appreciate this help thus far. I’m so far from a computer guy but here Iam streaming!

I’m running Roon on a 2014 headless Mac mini. Once setup up you don’t need a screen, it’s very quiet (even though it does have a fan), and if you want to you can install a large drive (SSD in my case) internally for music. Mine is probably over spec with 16g ram an i5 (and two SSDs internally - one for OS (250G) and DB, one for music(4Tb)).

The main advantage (at least for me) is the apple infra-structure - so I have time machine backups of my music (roon backs-up to a local drive, and then time machine copies these files somewhere safe over the network along with everything else). And screen sharing makes it easily to maintain from another Mac.

I just bought another Mac mini of the same spec on eBay and it was a lot less then the current models.

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Got Amazon in Canada? They got NUCs :wink:

Costco Canada sells NUCs as well.

Don’t laugh but all my ripped cds are AIFF does it matter if I buy the intel over Mac mini. Probably a lot cheaper isn’t it. I’d just use my tv as the monitor when I needed it.

Should be fine!

How do I plug a Mac mini to my moon 390? Do I still go wireless or hard wire with Ethernet. If so how? I’m guessing Ethernet to both separately?

You have some flexibility in terms of how you set it up, In my case, my Mac Mini, which is my Roon core, sits in my cellar connected via ethernet cable to my router. It then streams to my various zones around the house via wifi.

Whatever you do, keep your Mac mini or NUC as far away from your playback equipment as possible. The switching power supplies and electronics will radiate all kinds of noise. You will be surprised at the sonic improvement.

My hi fi, router, tv are in one place but I’m out of hard wired spots on my router. If I don’t have a issue wirelessly streaming now, far away from where my system is now, I’m thinking I should be okay wirelessly.

ROCK does not really support wireless. So if you need it to be wireless think again about using ROCK and a NUC. Running any core on wireless isn’t the best idea but if it works for you then I would go with a Mac mini.

Don’t put the Core on wireless not mater if you go with a NUC or Mac mini. But a $20 1Gb switch. Plug that into your Telus router and then plug your Core (NUC or Mac mini), Moon 390 and your TV into the switch.

I have several Macs including a new M1 MacBook Pro but I run Roon on a NUC. No need for all the macOS overhead just to run Roon. A purpose built computer is much better. My ROCK has been running constantly for 256 days without a reboot.

I think I’ll definitely go the Mac mini route I just can’t justify a Roon Nuc at almost double the price for all what it does. Having a mini if I need a full on computer that I can download 24bit files, rip cds still and other things from time to time. I think this is a better way and cheaper. Especially with zero difference in sound quality


I’ve been using an M1 Mac Mini (16GB, 1TB SSD) since November last year and it’s been great. It replaced a 2011 Mac Mini. In both cases the machines were/are dedicated to Roon.


A tip for anyone running a headless M1 Mac Mini and I guess future Apple Silicon Macs. M1 and Big Sur bring additional security around the boot process. In practice this means you need to be in front of the machine with a connected keyboard to log in after a reboot/software update. If this is inconvenient there are two options I know of:

  • Disable Filevault
  • Reboot the machine using the following terminal command sudo fdesetup authrestart It requires being an admin or your user account being in the sudoers file.
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Really? My 2012 MAC Mini sits right below my Pre-Pro and above my 5 channel amp…and yet nothing but 100% quiet between the notes! I think it’s all in the set up as I run my MAC Mini on 12VDC!

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