Hi I’m trying to figure out the tradeoffs between roon core on a NUC vs QNAP with raid 5. My library is medium sized—about 1500 albums of DSD and FLAC, takes about 3.5 TB right now.
So my understanding is that with a NUC you’d have a giant USB drive attached to it for the music and the database on the internal SSD. Similarly with the QNAP. And with both you’d need a mirroring backup, which means another giant hard drive attached to them with USB 3. Correct?
What are the tradeoffs regarding expansion, performance, easy of maintenance, reliability and noise?
I’m a computer scientist who isn’t unwilling to tinker, but not have to deal with maintenance/upgrading/etc issues constantly. I want it to just work for the most part. (I spend enough time with technology 10 hours a day for work already anyway.)
Currently I’m running a lifetime roon core on an i5 Mac with a NAS. There’s stuttering. Probably because I have the database on the NAS.
With a NUC/Rock the Roon software and database should be on the internal M.2 drive for best performance. You can add an internal SATA SSD for your music library, or a USB attached SSD/HDD, or point the software to network connected NAS. Your choice. My preference is the internal SATA drive.
In my experience the NUC i7/ROCK server is the least maintenance and best performance. All updates to OS and software come from Roon, no windows, mac or NAS software involved. Availability is 24/7.
My NUC is in a media closet with the entertainment system and network components. My only concern with noise comes from the active cooling for the media closet. I’ve not heard the fan from the nuc. It that is a concern you can install it in a fanless enclosure.
The Roon database backup can be to USB attached SSD/HDD, not internal.
For Music library backups use your preferred method.
The trade off’s are entirely in the direction of Qnap in every respect except library size and any considered benefits of RAID. An i5 or i7 NUC will hold a 4TB drive internally, can be made silent and with no moving parts and will run Roon pretty much maintenance free. I would consider backing up to the Qnap and maybe expanding into it if your collection grows significantly.
Like Mike says, a NUC running ROCK is a Roon music appliance, in the same way a microwave is a cooking appliance. I started out with Roon running on a NUC running Windows 10 five years ago, but soon moved to ROCK, and have never looked back.
Hey, I made some experiences with NAS and dedicated servers and frankly speaking I have no doubts: let the NAS be a NAS and use a dedicated server (NUC or similars) to run Roon. The server is way faster than any NAS (at similar price) and it is virtually silent.
Today I have a dedicated (old) MacBook Air as a media server (Roon for music, Plex for movies), connected to an external driver where my music is saved which works perfectly.
It comes down to manageability for me. Maintaining raids is something I just don’t like doing. The NAS solutions offer the point and drool interface I’m looking for. That said, I have nuc and rpi endpoints everywhere. I just prefer to spend my time listening over maintaining. Rebuilding arrays is always nerve wracking manually. I fat finger way too much stuff.
My $0.02 and worth just a bit less than that.
Okay I come at this from the QNAP side of this. I have been running Roon on a QNAP TVS-471 since November 2016. It has performed flawlessly for me in all this time. The only time I have ever had an issue with the QNAP was due to a fault in the third party memory upgrade I did. That memory failed and was replaced by new memory and all has been good since then. I don’t need to leave a NUC on all the time but I do run my QNAP 24/7/365. It’s really set and forget. My QNAP has an i3 with 16GB of RAM. My library is 4000 albums and 48,000 tracks. YMMV.
Tradeoffs? That depends on your preferences and needs!
I have a few Cores, both Windows, ROCK on NUC and MOCK on rather more powerful software. But i have been running Roon Server on my QNAP the last 5 years. I use it regularly, and have never had issues with it (besides a regretful episode with failing Seagate drives).
The NAS also does Plex Server, Minim Server and to top things up a littel, also Twonky.
I bought my QNAP TS-470 Pro used, with 16Gb RAM and has got a quad core Intel Core i5 3470T CPU. Today three 6Tb WD REDs in Raid5 store the files and the apps and Roon DB runs from a 120Gb SSD in the fourth slot.
I don’t like the limitations of the NUC’s but still use acouple of them. My main server is a MOCK buillt on an Asus ROG MiniITX mb in a Streacom FC5 Evo chassi. Intel Core i3 8100 and 16Gb RAM and a Samsung 970 Pro Plus m.2 for Roon OS. Storage on a 8Tb Samsung QVO SSD and a slot in SATA DVD-ROM dor ripping the occasional disc.
Having run on both (QNAP NAS originally and now NUC):
Setup - different, but similar effort from rough memory (was a long time ago now and have no memory of either being fiddly in any way).
Performance - depends on which NAS and which NUC, but at a price point, (I think) massively favours a NUC.
Storage: basic NUC will just have an M2 SSD in it. I also have a fast 1TB SATA SSD in it as well. While obviously you can put a lot of drives in some NAS, given the sizes you can get these days in SATA SSD (4TB quite reasonable now), I dont think that matters any more. Many NAS also M2 SSD as well, but the point is i can see no benefit for a NAS for Roon.
Resiliance (perceived advantages of NAS RAID): You will (should) be doing backups anyway, so this becomes moot I think. Recovering a RAID instance can be really painful anyway. I don’t suppose anyone feels the need to use RAID for pure performance setup any more.
Always on Appliance: Both the same (I leave my NAS and NUC on all the time).
Listening room friendly: There are passive cooling cases for a NUC making it silent (no fans).
Physical size: NUC much smaller. In facts NUCs are tiny.
Even if you have lots of compelling reasons to have a NAS that have nothing to do with Roon, that are pushing you heavily in the direction of a NAS, I would consider running Roon on the NAS as a stop gap (unless it is a really fast NAS).
I would like to add to the conversation with a question: at one time NAS’s were slow to recognize newly added albums to one’s watch folder. One had to rely on Roon’s internal timer to query every X minutes.
Ok! I guess you’ve convinced me to go with the NUC.
Next question. There was a roon web page where they had recommendations for choosing the NUC. But now I can find it! Would someone be kind enough to tell me where it is? Thank you.
Just adding my 2cents (even though I’m a happy Synology NAS user): If you already have a NAS for one of the many good reasons of having one you should just install Roon core and give it a try. My model is supposedly on the slow slide but to be honest it’s doing everything I need so I’m happy.
I wouldn’t recommend to only purchase a NAS to have it running Roon core as for this use case a NUC would be preferable because of the many advantages listed here before
I moved from desktop Win10 PC running Roon core to QNAP NAS last December. I bought one of the cheaper models TS-253D which runs Intel Celeron J4125 Quad Core CPU @ 2.0ghz. It’s underspecced if you look what Roon recommends but has worked flawlessly for me. Only thing I did was upgrading the stock 4gb of memory to 8gb since 4gb ran out immediately. 8gb has been plenty enough. I have Roon core installed on 256gb SSD and storage is on 4tb WD Red, around 3500 albums in FLAC format which of 100-200 is hi-res. Most of the time I don’t use DSP functions but with headphones on my computer I run Roon crossfeed.
As I wrote… zero problems or hiccups. It has worked even better than my Win10 gaming PC which I used earlier. I’ve also thought about separate NUC + Rock in passive Akasa casing to put on my equipment stand closer to rest of the system but I see no reason for this since things work so well already. With QNAP I also run Plex server simultaneously for movies and streaming my music library on the go. I have one backup syncing to my desktop PC which also runs one WD Red storage drive and other backup to external USB storage every ~1 month when I remember to plug it in.
I run Roon with a + 1000 24bit albums on my ageing 7-8 year old QNAP TS-670pro running 16GB ram, I5 3570S CPU and two M2 drives on a QM2 card, main drives are 6 x 4TB in raid 6.
My network is 1Gb ethernet utilising Cat7 cabling an unfortunately only 100Mb internet. My NAS is located in another room away from my HiFi and I utilise an Electric English network switch at the HiFi end/room to feed my Roon endpoint, Apple TV, TV etc
My album art refreshes instantly and I can stream to multiple devices at once with some transcoding (24 bit album to my iPhone for example).
I already had the QNAP NAS running Plex (which it does very well) and I use it as file & archive server, so it was an easy decision to add-on Roon.
I have found the update process a little clunky initially but consistent nor technically difficult (I’m not in IT), for example, having to disconnect the server and instantly reconnecting on my iPhone.
On the whole living with Roon via NAS has been a pleasant and pleasing uneventful experience. I’ve been very happy with my QNAP NAS its been very stable and reliable and I concurrently run Roon and Plex flawlessly.
If I was starting fresh and all I needed was Roon a beefed up NUC with solid state storage would be attractive.
What is notable there is your NAS is an i5 processor and has more than enough RAM, probably twice what it needs. As such I would fully expect the experience to be as close to flawless as possible. It demonstrates that it isn’t necessarily the type of hardware, it is the specs.
It’s the M2 drives that speed up the response. As far as music quality goes I see no reason for a dedicated server unless you’re constrained to having it in the listening room and need something silent. After a chat with Bryston the music player/Roon endpoint and DAC are critical. Prior to the endpoint files are streamed with normal computer protocols.