Replacing Dell i5 laptop running Win10 and Roon core only with Roon Nucleus, good move?

At present being new to Roon I went the cheaper route to see how I liked it and how things progressed.
Simple clean slate start Dell i5 laptop running Win10 and Roon Core only connected directly to my router by short cat8 cable.
Picks up both my Chromecast units and microrendu bridge feeding mhdt dac.
Pretty happy with the whole experience tbh.
I have approx. 7000 albums on a 4tb USB hard drive connected directly to the Dell laptop.

My question is would a Roon Nucleus be a step upwards or just sideways as far as SQ, speed etc.
If I went this route I would likely place the Nucleus directly in my main system rack right next to the DAC, connected to ethernet from the switch in there so dispensing with the microrendu and feeding the DAC direct from its usb output. Also connect the 4tb USB hdd direct to the Nucleus.
So see any flaws in my thinking or better advice?
Many thanks to a newbie so be gentle!

Hello Kevin. It sounds like a good plan. I don’t know if there would be any SQ or speed related improvement but having a dedicated music server is a definite improvement in my book. Getting away from the possibility of windows updates causing issues is a plus and it just seems to simplify things, smooth upgrades, etc…

I started out with Roon running on my desktop and have since upgraded to a NUC/Rock. Its out of sight in my media closet with HDMI to my receiver for multi-channel files, usb and Ethernet connections to my OPPO player and Ethernet to the other endpoints. My favorite expression is “it just works”.

Hey Mike
thanks for the response.
I am also thinking that the base Nucleus would be more than adequate for my needs.
7000 albums, not likely to be increasing by many as I mostly stream Qobuz or listen to records.
I only have 3 zones and only ONE at a time will ever play so not taxing any system imho.
Also helps that I can pick up a b stock Nucleus at a very good price… lol

I personaly think you have the better setup now.

The nucleus is an Intel Nuc, same motherboard inside, and the base Nucleus is an i3, so slower than your Dell. I also am a big fan of NOT connecting the computer straight into a DAC, like you would be doing with the Nucleus.

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Go for it. If the budget is not an issue you can follow along the migration steps when it arrives. Plug the USB external drive into the Nucleus and you good to go.

Let’s see.

On the minus side:

  1. Downgrading from an i5 to an i3.
  2. Going from having Roon Core running on a machine in another room to running on a computer in your system rack.
  3. Putting an external USB hard drive (those always make some amount of noise) on your system rack.

On the plus side:

  1. Linux (Roon OS) versus Windows.
  2. Dispense with the MicroRendu.

I don’t see how that can possibly be a net win.

I would keep the microRendu in play

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Is this the Nucleus Rev B you are referring to? The change to the Rev B model, as I understand it, is basically a larger housing with more space inside for the internal Sata drive and a second HDMI port. It does have an i3 vs your i5 but that probably won’t be something you will notice with your current setup.

I built my NUC/Rock using the NUC8I7BEH, 16GB Ram, 250GB m.2 for OS and Database and 1GB Sata SSD for my music. It’s total overkill for my needs, 6000 + tracks in my library, Tidal and Qobuz, 3 main zones in the house and my phone with a powered speaker for outside use. The individual parts were not expensive but I needed to spread the cost over several months to stay out of trouble with my better half.

If I had to do it over again I would go for the Nucleus or the Plus vs building the NUC myself. But I would use the internal Sata drive to stay with the one device solution. Good luck and do let us know how it turns out.

I think that moving Roon to an appliance type machine+OS a win for overall usability (always on, hassle free no platform admin etc), that is regardless of whether it be a nucleus or other appropriate hardware.

Other changes like how the DAC is connected to the host are surely independent and should be considered as such.

As for nucleus, well that depends on what you need in terms of pre/post purchase support or you just like the case or whatever. If you are happy to assemble a kit, then maybe go with a NUC + recommended bits, else pay the extra for the nucleus.

The win is overall usability and turning Roon into a standalone appliance - ie like other hifi. SQ is unlikely to change unless something is wrong.

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A right mix of opinions on display but to be expected.
I do have to say right now I am pretty happy with the sq and usability of my current setup but always aware of windows updates and issues etc.
This was a thought process of maybe pre empting a nuclear strike before it might ever ( never) occur.
More food for thought now!

I disagree.

The i3 in the Nucleus is more than ‘fast’ enough for dealing with Roon (apart from those with absolutely massive libraries, and heavy DSP requirements), and because the Nucleus is dedicated to running (a modified version of) Roon ROCK, it’s probably even more efficient of CPU useage.

IMO the Nucleus is a no-brainier, if you’re serious about Roon.


But the better value is to do the NUC instead of a Nucleus and apply the $700 you save for a lifetime Roon membership!
I get it though, sometimes one just wants it the easy way. And that’s cool too.


I have to agree that in pure monetary terms building a Roon Rock NUC is best.
But for the mentally challenged amongst us going with a Nucleus and plugging in power and two cables is the cats whiskers…

And I can get a b stock unit very fairly priced free shipping so there also is that.

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Don’t sell yourself short, it’s really pretty easy.
But the Nucleus is really nice. It’s a nice little luxury. You won’t regret it if you go that way.

  • I don’t subscribe to, or believe, that the core impacts sound quality (don’t overrun the CPU with DSP operations).
  • I do believe that some DACs will sound better if you use something other than their USB input.
  • I do subscribe to the theory that you will get better sound quality hiding your core in a deep dark closet as far away from your listening environment as possible.
  • I do prefer the one click smplicity of keeping ROCK up to date.
  • I don’t like windows and especially trying to keep up with patches for it.

Nucleus is an easy way to get ROCK. That’s the only advantage I can see Nucleus giving you in your environment. You could try getting ROCK running on the Dell. If that doesn’t work you could get Roon server running on Linux. That combo is easier to maintain and a much smaller “resource” footprint than Windows 10. Otherwise, I’d keep the Core in the dark closet it is already in and keep using the Rendu no matter what direction you go.

I run ROCK in a VM from an ESXi server in my MB closet which is directly connected to a switch which feeds the rest of the house. I’ve not tried another combination as this sounds just the very smidgen different than Audirvania (best sounding in my system) and has been rock (pun intended) solid of a setup.

Nucleus is a heck of a nice looking case though.

I began on a laptop. I moved to what was the OEM NUC board Intel produced back then. It is a 5th generation i5 but is the exact same spec as the i3 board in the Nucleus. I have around 8000 tracks and I stream Tidal. It can upsample to DSD512 if required, (I don’t as a rule) but I haven’t tried convolution yet. My collection may grow by another couple of thousand as I complete my ripping and buy new but it is perfect for my needs. The i3 Nucleus would be too. It sits there and works. Updates work without interruption to service and issues are fixed pretty quickly. I never had that confidence with Windows, even on the same NUC. If my experience is anything to go by, your thinking is spot on.

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If I went with the Nucleus which is USB out only do you think the output is sufficiently isolated enough to be really good audio feed direct into a dac?
Or might it benefit from some form of reclocking?

Hey Jim
Unfortunately my dac has neither hdmi or ethernet input.
Toslink, usb, coax is it.

Keep your microRendu to connect the dac via the Ethernet to the nucleus.

If that is the best option, which it may well be ,then there is little point having the Nucleus in my rack as I may as well locate it upstairs next to my router in the same place as my present Dell laptop.
Then just plug the microRendu into the downstairs switch as I do presently.