I’m starting to add Naim Muso speakers in a couple of rooms in the house and plan to use Roon to control them, along with a Mac Mini which is connected to my DAC in my main system.
All of my music & movies are stored on a NAS with 4 drives (Qnap TS410).
The Mac Mini connected to my DAC is a 2010 model with 8GB RAM and a 128GB SSD which I recently fitted.
My question is - I’m ready to add a 2nd computer to use as a Roon Core. I know ROCK isn’t ready yet, but just wondered which way to go. Do I buy a Mac Mini or an NUC with Linux ?? Both are a similar price by the time RAM and SSD are added to a NUC.
I am an Apple fan and use Macs, iPhones and iPads on a daily basis. Are there advantages of using an NUC over a Mac Mini ?
I don’t have experience with a Mac Mini but I have been using a NUC i7 with 16GB RAM running Windows 10 as my Roon server for about 2 years now. It performs very well, even with HQPlayer upsampling to DSD 5.6. On occasion the fan will speed up when upsampling to high rates but normally it is silent. It has a 256 GB M2 SSD that I use for the OS and for Roon and its database. I added a 2.5" 2TB drive that I initially used to store music but it ran out of space. Now my music is on a 4 drive QNAP NAS. The Mac Mini is definitely a better looking device, but either one can be stashed away, out of sight.
Some of our members use an i5 with good results but I went with the i7 for a bit of future proofing, which of course is a joke when discussing computers:-).
My 2012 Mac Mini works great with RoonServer. I installed a 1TB SSD for music only and a 1TB HDD for backup. I also run the mini straight to my MAC but I am getting a DDC Hydra Z that will between the two. It’s nice tidy setup that with a few tweaks have got to work quite well using my iPad to control everything on my Mini.
Just another option you can use with your Mini if you do not want to go the NUC/ROCK route…
I have used a Mac Mini (2014 version with Hybrid 1Tb drive), a MacbookPro (OSX and also via Bootcamp windows). Also tried an old NUC. The problem with the latter was fan noise but granted this may have been due to the age of the NUC (3 years old and borrowed from a friend). The MacMini is super quiet, very reliable and has no power brick. Looks great too. If you plan to use it as a Home Theater PC as well then keep in mind that OSX does not offer the same scaling options as Win10 does. I find windows better for that role.
Assuming price is the same, I cannot think of an advantage in using a NUC. If you are used to Macs and you plan on using the Mini as a dedicated Roon Core then I would stick to the Mac Mini
Assuming you mean a mid 2010 Mac Mini, which uses a Intel Core 2 Duo processor, you might be better of with a NUC or a newer Mac Mini. any of those will for certain use less power.
So unless power usage is a concern and/or you don’t have performance issues, why change?
Having said that, the whole idea for ROCK is more or less to be an appliance where there’s no need for the user to be freed from OS interaction. So if you you still need or just simply want to go ahead and get some HW, it’s up to you to decide.
I was in your situation few weeks ago but I am not an Apple fan so I went with the NUC, replace the case with fanless, and installed Arch Linux. It was an easy install and you are ready for ROCK when it comes out.
I am familiar with both Mac and Linux among other things. I assume you want small form factor, otherwise you could do it cheaper than both those options. Also think about NAS, which if you’re willing to spend the money would give you some other advantages than a stand alone computer.
Other thoughts, if you’re not sure if you’ll want it forever, a MAC will at least add something as a general computer elsewhere. Mac is certainly at least as capable as a NUC.
Other things that spring to mind - Mac resale is far better and probably has better software oriented support in the longer term - free OS / firmware etc. My uncle can still put the latest OS on his 2008 imac (or thereabouts).
Linux will likely get you more power, but you don’t need it for Roon, you can basically run it off a $40 raspberry pi as a cheap linux alternate.