NUC with Windows 10, ROCK or MOCK installation

After learning about Roon for some time, I have decided to take the plunge to install Roon. I am therefore a complete newbie.

So I started by buying a brand new NUC. A NUC8i5BEH already configured with 256GB NVMe SSD + 16GB RAM and pre-installed with Windows 10.

So this seems to be a complete mini PC. From what I read, Roon Core is best installed on Roon OS (ROCK) in a barebone NUC. But now that I already have Windows, what is best?
I do not have any particular expectations of what Windows can do for me soundwise, nor do I need to have a Windows installation. I should be happy to uninstall Windows and install ROCK or just install Roon onto this mini PC (which may be simpler).
I shall be connecting with a USB cable directly with my DAC, a SMSL 500 and have my NAS with 16,000 tracks connected to my router or directly as well.
My only concern is sound quality, is there any advantage in having Windows or should I just dispense with it? Your advice would be most helpful.
I prefer my installation and subsequent maintenance to be hassle-free, as I am not by any means, a technical geek. Originally I had wanted to buy the Nucleus, but found the NUC to be so much cheaper.

Thanks, Douglas

You might as well install ROCK on your NUC, that will serve as the least maintenance demanding solution, and arguably the highest possible audio quality.
If the shoe don’t fit, just reinstall Windows and thread that path instead! :slight_smile:

And, there’s the option of installing a internal hard drive in the NUC if you prefer local storage also.

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Hi Douglas, if you’re familiar with Windows, keep it as it is and install Roon Server on this NUC and start listening to music. For Windows exist abundant drivers, and there are enough Windows users out there to support you with problems, should need arise.

Only if you don’t like meddling with Windows should you wipe out your disk and try to install ROCK. And only so would you be able to compare for yourself if there is any difference in sound quality. My take is that there is none whatsoever… but only trust your own ears.

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Well, once a NUC has ROCK installed and is up and running, it becomes much more of an appliance than a computer running Windows will ever be… So to my mind it depends on whether you think you can follow the instructions and install ROCK on the NUC.

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If you are a Newbie, then just use Windows and install Roonserver. Run the software for awhile and get to know it and your use cases; and then if you are bothered by Windows, you can always wipe it and install ROCK later on.


How computer literate are you and are you comfortable building a machine from scratch. MOCK is best only tackled by someone who is happy getting right down into a machine, fiddling with bios settings and understands the likely reason(s) it’s not working. It is largely unsupported by Roon so if things go wrong you are on your own or at most in the hands of fellow tinkerers. I did go the MOCK route with a Ryzen 3 3200G and an ASRock mini PC case and it was very straightforward for me but I’ve been messing with PC’s since the mid 90’s. It’s been utterly reliable and only reboots when I tell it to.

A NUC, assuming it’s on the supported list, gives a nice easy route to ROCK-ness and there’s always the Nucleus for really easy going.

All that said there’s absolutely nothing wrong just with W10 and Roon Server. It works very well. Just ROCK is so lightweight and so nicely coded for the task at hand if you’re going to run a dedicated Roon server that’s the route I’d go.

Thanks for all the contribution. You guys are helpful. I will most likely take the path of least resistance and install RoonServer directly onto it. That would have been my preference.

I had been scouting around and there’s no complete instructions for this, I supposed this is straightforward, I would need advice on 2 issues though.

  1. Would I need to update the BIOS just as ROCK installation demands it, and
  2. do I need to install the various Codecs,

If the answer to the above 2 questions are “Yes”, where do I find the instructions.
and Yes, I shall be slotting a 1 TB SSD just in case. I will continue to use my NAS as there is an early warning system should the HDD/SSD within it crashes.

Thanks again, Douglas

You do not need to update the bios unless the latest bios appears to fix something specific. You just need to change the bios so the machine boots in legacy mode for ROCK.

You do need to add the codecs.

You are talking about Roonserver on a Windows10 installation, correct?

All you need to do is download the Roonserver executable from Roon. It will install itself. You do not need to update the BIOS. The Codecs should also be fine with Windows. You will need a keyboard and a screen to do the installation. While you are doing the RoonServer installation you’ll also want to make some other changes in Windows to allow autologin and startup on boot.


Thanks Scott, the tip is most useful.

I suppose I will leave the BIOS and the Codecs alone until I wish to switch to using ROCK.


One more detail I need to clarify:

When installing Roon onto Windows (in my NUC), do I need to download Roon into a Flash Drive first then installing it from there, or I can download straight into my NUC and install it there.


You can download it straight to the NUC.
Basically, the NUC is just another PC, and Roon is just another program.
Very simple this way.

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Wow, that’s easy. I shall proceed with that. Thanks again

@Douglas_Kong One issue with installing ROCK is that it will wipe out the windows installation and unless you have a way to get back from preinstalled Windows license then I would stay with Windows until you are well versed in Roon.

Personally I run a system with Windows 10, but the hardware can also run ROCK (I have tried it both ways), and to be brutally honest I dont really hear any difference. ROCK does have less updates and other issues associated with Windows updates and general windows admin etc, but nothing most people won’t sail through.

Some DACs (often higher end models) might only work at their full feature set with a windows installed driver too.

My advice - I’ll repeat it - Stay with windows for now if you are OK with windows admin and updates…ROCK might be a one way ticket if you have no way to reinstall windows on the NUC easily.

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You’re right, Fixit, that’s exactly my thinking. I have absolutely zilch experience with Linux and won’t touch it unless I am forced to. So I am sticking with Windows for as long as I can.

Thanks, chum

well ROCK is pretty much locked down so even a linux master has no access even if they wanted it - its a total appliance type install with a simple web interface to do some basic things and the rest is all in roon remote as it is for any other OS so its not that daunting if you follow the install steps - for others following along here :wink:

And MOCK is just ROCK on other than recommended NUC options listed by Roon

The only reason I would chose the windows istallation over ROCK is if I were using a Chord DAC attached directly to the NUC via USB. ROCK only does DoP to Chord DACs, so you are limited to DSD256.
With the Windows ASIO drivers, Roon Server can send DSD512 native to Chord DACs.
Windows is NOT self updating and it will give you a headache every six months with its major upgrades. Turning off Windows Updates is not recommended and will probably make your system unstable at some point.
So I would definitely recommend to go the ROCK route with the caveat I mentioned before.

Really, in the overall scheme of things, a major software update twice a year isn’t horrible.
Most software does this, even Roon.
I like how easy ROCK is to keep. But a Windows installation is a perfectly acceptable choice.

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Roon platform flexibility is nice, but I wonder how many people are put off and look somewhere else when they are steered away from just doing a simple Windows or Mac install like every other software they are familiar with v. buying a NUC and installing ROCK?

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Where are they steered away?
There is no mention of preferred hardware on the roon site. If users come on the forum and ask a question then other users give their opinions that happens whether you are talking about hifi or buying a car.

The core manages your music collection from many sources, and builds an interconnected digital library using enhanced information from Roon.

The core can be your Mac or Windows PC, or a server from one of our hardware partners.