NUC Generational Differences?

Fernando - It’s pretty amazing how you keep misconstruing my original question to fit your own preconstrued answer. My original question, once again, was on the generational differences among Intel chips. It’s easy enough to research i3 vs. i5 vs. i7, but 7i3 vs 8i5, vs 10i7? (This new thread is asking the same basic question about gen10

Intel NUC 10th gen - what to expect? )

Chip benchmarks based on computations and graphics rendering don’t necessarily translate into benchmarks for Roon. Likewise, some of the chip generations appear to be feature packages like wifi and Bluetooth that aren’t really useful for Roon.

Simon_pepper’s answer that Roon basically uses a core per endpoint is useful. I currently never have more than two endpoints running at a time. Do I really need a hex core? By your logic I do. Do I need Bluetooth/wifi/heavy graphics capability in the nuc chip? Not for Roon. Your answer, “Need to do heavy stuff. Get a heavy CPU”, answers the wrong question.

I see the nuc for Roon as an appliance that has a limited lifespan, like other electronics these days. Roon will probably develop further (I hope - I’m in it for lifetime), my library may grow to multi-terabytes, I may win the lottery and move into a 10,000 square foot house with a dozen endpoints. Somewhere in the future I’ll probably need to replace the entire Room nuc. But there’s no way to buy today based on some distant future’s requirements.

My question is the basic economic one of “maximizing utility”. That doesn’t mean cheap to anyone apparently but you. I’m willing to spend however much it takes to get a chip that does what I need. But I don’t want to spend a penny more.


Hey by all means, You do as you please, nobody is twisting your arm :slight_smile: To me cheap means the minimum specs, not that you are been cheap… This thread died right when @OneEyedHito posted his point, Also please note that you never specified requirements you did ask why one lower end model vs the other and that pass me, I focus on the requirements. I guess I failed to see that from the get go you were focused on the lower end model based on what you needed.

Good luck.

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Robert, your original inquiry is one of great value to those considering a dedicated Roon server (a VERY good idea, BTW). I worked at Intel for 12 years ending in 2010, though not in engineering. Perhaps I can shed some light on the improvements among NUC generations without getting too technical. But let’s start with the “answer” and then give supporting details.

  1. No, you don’t need the latest generation NUC because Roon ROCK is small and very efficient.
  2. The NUC Gen 7 i3 with 4GB RAM will work great for most (UP TO 10,000 albums/100,000 tracks, UP TO 6 simultaneous zones, moderate* DSP functionality); If your needs are extreme, go with a Gen 7 i7 with 8GB RAM (OVER 10,000 albums/100,000 tracks, OVER 6 simultaneous zones, advanced** DSP functionality). In all instances, opt for the “tall” NUC denoted by BNH in the model number.

OK, so as to the generations of NUC. In general, each generation makes incremental (but meaningful) improvements in performance value (MIPS per $) and thermal dissipation (often measured in MIPS per watt). In the 90s, new generations of processors were eagerly awaited because there were notable improvements in PC functionality that users could see and feel. In the 2010s, the base systems are more than powerful enough to meet basic Windows PC needs and users (gamers/graphics/CAD users excluded) don’t feel compelled to upgrade every few years. (I personally buy and recommend notebook users purchase last year’s Thinkpad refurbs from Lenovo directly, keep it five years and then rinse an repeat).

Here’s the thing: Roon ROCK servers are NOT PCs and they DON’T run Windows. Understanding requirements for them requires a different mindset. The Roon software architecture is super clean, efficient, and reliable. Other than “heavy duty users” it works great on i3 based systems.

Here’s what I did last year when looking for huge bang-for-the buck ROCK server for my tiny 500 album, 8,000 track library that uses a max 2 simultaneous endpoints: I purchased a NUC7i3BNH (open box and blemished) on Amazon for $125, added a 128GB M.2 SSD for $20 (open box), added as single 4GB RAM stick that I bought used on Craigslist for $15 and re-purposed a 500GB 2.5in SSD. Grand total: $160. The NUC7 had one feature that (I think) was new: it offered a fanless mode in the BIOS. In addition, I lowered the processing speed to make sure it runs nice and cool. I figured I could increase the processor speed later or add extra RAM. Neither proved necessary so I have a fanless appliance should easily meet my needs for 8+ years!

It took a bit of work to get the software installed and my library moved, but I ended up with a system that is ROCK SOLID (pun intended). I was upgrading from a non-dedicated Win10 HTPC that was nothing but trouble with endless OS/Security/Application updates that would break Roon every few weeks.

Lastly, are you wondering how I knew that the Gen7 i3 and i7 specs would work? I copied them directly from the Nucleus product page. I figured Roon engineers know how best to align hardware specs with ROCK performance so as to maximize user enjoyment. Don’t tell them that I paid $160 for performance and reliability that mirrors their $1,400 offering (though the Nucleus is quite a bit better looking :sunglasses:).

*Moderate DSP functionality, as defined in Nucleus specs = All DSP functions available in the PCM domain. Certain combinations of functions using DSD source or destination formats, upsampling, or multichannel processing may not be possible.

** Advanced DSP functionality, as defined in Nucleus specs = All DSP functions available

Roon Nucleus product page:


Thanks for taking the time to put down a well-considered answer. It helps a lot when weighing all the choices. A purpose-built specialist machine rather than a heavyweight generalist seems to be the way to go (for me, at least).

This may be the first mention I’ve ever seen of someone “under-clocking” their chip!

Like an earlier poster, my first Roon Server was a i3-3217U NUC. I did not have any issues, would still be using it but for ending up with some extra gear as result of a job change. Now Roon runs on a i7-6700 DeskMini H110. Anywhere else but here, I’d have what is considered a large collection (~9000 albums). It was a surprise to find out how much better (smoother UI, faster file processing) Roon runs on the i7 vs. i3. I suspect for Roon, the i5 and i7 are pretty comparable.

Personally, I wouldn’t hesitate to use an older model. Any type of SSD should perform fine, no need for the latest and greatest. And don’t bother maxing RAM, the recommended 8 GB is all that is needed.

If you are open to non-NUC hardware, the DeskMini is highly recommended. A bit larger, and a bit cheaper, but still tiny. For the extra space, you get a full desktop CPU and room for 3 SSD’s.


I recall there were a few threads in which people reported faster UI from faster CPU. I don’t find that surprising, since I suspect many track-related UI actually involve database operations in the Roon Core.

Greg, are you using ROCK or a Win10/MacOS server?

First iteration was ROCK. I was looking for a little more flexibility than ROCK allows, so ended up installing Roon Server on Debian. Fast and stable.

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Question… have the recent core updates (eg, search architecture, valence, etc) made any difference to the sufficiency / benchmarking of any cores? I run a NUC8i5 and it’s mostly snappy but not always (eg home page loading can take several seconds) and given hardware / process performance is invisible I never know if my machine is struggling or if it’s networking etc.

BTW, my assumption is that load has not changed appreciably and I’m still well within requirements, but this group knows far more than I do. Thanks.

Art Director made the Roon database size has shrunk quite a bit as because don’t store Roon provided artist images as part of the database anymore.

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