Repurposing a 2011 Mac Mini as a Roon Core

Initially I installed Roon on a 2017 iMac with an i5 processor, 16GB RAM and a 2GB fusion HDD/SSD and designated it as the Core while trialling Roon with my stored music (on a Synology NAS) and Qobuz account. This worked quite well although I had to tweak the Power settings to stop the iMac going to sleep and the Core disappearing.

Having extended the trial with a monthly subscription, I decided to try out a 2011 Mac Mini as the Core machine so as not to have the iMac running 24/7. The Mac Mini is a basic model with an i5 processor, 8GB RAM and a 500GB HDD. I removed all unnecessary applications and data from the machine and set it up for headless use by switching on Screen Sharing. With Roon 1.8 installed, it is now located next to my router and NAS and connected to the former by Ethernet cable.
Despite warnings from Roon Labs that a Core should really have access to an SSD on which to store the database for speed of access, this setup is working very well and has no difficulty delivering 192/24 flac files to any of my audio devices. My library is of a modest size (940 albums and approx 15,000 tracks).

The bonus is that I have been able to repurpose a perfectly good Mac that was shoved in a cupboard doing nothing and relocated it out of the way in the cupboard under the stairs where it does its one job 24/7 at no additional cost. I hope that Roon users who are tempted by dedicated ROCK devices or the Nucleus can be reassured that repurposing an old computer or acquiring an inexpensive used one might be all that’s needed, especially if your requirements are modest.


Which OS are you running?

Works fine at my house! I had problems with running a Nucleus successfully with a hardwire from a mesh node. I originally used an Apple AirPort Extreme to extend the wi-fi, dropping a hardwired signal from it to the Nucleus. When the Apple router failed (and Apple got out of that business) I switched to an Eero mesh system. The Nucleus didn’t care for mesh at all. Sold the Nucleus, went back to a Mac mini for my core. No problems. I stripped virtually everything off the mini save the core.

1 Like

Sierra 10.12.6. No further updates are available for this model of Mac.

1 Like


Before relocating it to the router cupboard, the Mac Mini was connected to the network via an Ethernet cable to a BT Home mesh node and worked just as well there.

1 Like

I put Ubuntu on an old Mac Mini (Core 2 Duo), no SSD, and used it for the Core for a year. Worked great for all Redbook with no DSP and no streaming.

1 Like

My 2012 Mini (i7 16MB RAM) works great with RoonServer. I put in a 1TB SSD and another one for backup and it works great! My Roon Core is a the M1 MAC Mini with 16GB Unified Memory and it also works great. Though I do not use my network to store my music on a NAS.

1 Like

Thank you for the great post @Miles_Mandelson, welcome. We are in the process of obtaining a Mac Mini and moving my Roon core from my Windows PC (Adobe Cloud pre- 2021 photo work) to the Mac Mini in my Audio/Video listening room. I will post about my setup as we get farther along. Second Mac Mini post in 2 days. Thanks Again

1 Like

Thank you @George_Burrows. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Although the Mac Mini is unlikely to be noisy in operation I hope it doesn’t detract from your listening experience being situated in the same room.

I shall be interested to hear more of your setup as it gets installed.

1 Like

My rack/McIntosh amps are in an adjacent room away from 5.1 room. Won’t be an issue.

I found a 2014 build with i7 processor/16GB/1TB SSD. Looking into difference between loading Roon Server and Roon Core. Newer processor needed for core?

I think a way to get excellent performance from your older MAC Mini is to run it on 12VDC. can show you how …it’s easy and seems to let the mini run cooler…no fans…in fact my Mini sits right under my Pre-Pro and right above my Amp…you can view my primary system here. Showing (off) your Roon setup - description and photos [2021-04] - #167 by RBM

Nope…I don’t think so…I just was using my 2012 iMAC for my Core but wanted to replace the aging machine as they stop letting me update my MAC OS.

So I got the new MI Mini…but that unit cannot be messed with at all…SoC and all. I’m a little nervous about how long that set up will last…when the SSD craps out do you just toss the whole Mini in the trash? :flushed:

1 Like

Was running mac mini 2011 (i7, 16Gb, 512SSD) headless. Stripped all other software (reformatted and fresh install). No real problems except maybe once every two to three months it wouldn’t work, so then I would have to borrow a monitor, keyboard and mouse from another pc and see what the problem was. Sometimes just an update, even though it was supposed to update automatically. That was 4 years ago.

Since then have been running a NUC. Has worked faultlessly. The Mac mini is there as a backup should the Nuc fail… :slight_smile:

1 Like

I shall have to watch out for the Roon Core falling over on the Mac Mini. If you have another Mac it is possible to switch on screen sharing in the Mac Mini and display its screen on the other Mac - no need to connect a monitor, keyboard and mouse to the Mini. Sharing is done over your domestic network but of course setting it up has be done using those physical items initially.

Do you use the M1 Mac mini as an endpoint, and if so have you been able to run it in exclusive mode?


My Server is a 2012 MAC Mini where all my files are stored. I have the Mi Mini in my Office as the Roon Core and my Office computer. I also do play Roon from there…but playing in “exclusive mode” escapes me? Not sure what you’re looking for…sorry for my complete lack of knowledge on that feature. :thinking:

No problem. I bought a MI mini this week, and have been unable to run it in exclusive mode (seems to be a problem relating to the MI’s hdmi output). Just wanted to see if you had the same problem.


I will check into what you were nice enough to send me. I know Roon runs on the Rosetta Translation software and I have had no problems with mine…But I want to discover what you are referring to so I’ll read up and give it a try and then let you know my results.

I am excited to get a M1 iPad Pro that is scheduled to show up this Friday.


After reading what exclusive mode is…that’s what my 2012 MAC Mini running Roon Server is using when I play my main system for Music there.

I use my M1 for my Office computing needs so I don’t think that setting will work for me there. Where is it turned On and Off…maybe I can just try it temporarily??

Exclusive mode runs fine on my old macbook air running roon bridge. I think the problem is peculiar to the M1.

Could you try switching it on on your M1 and playing a track? When I do e.g do this, I receive the error message “audio device in use”.

Enjoy the ipad!