ROCK - which NUC

I know loads of you use Roon, on various systems.

In case people are thinking about changing/upgrading, I’ve just spent a long time working out what makes a sensible upgrade from my i3 16GB iMac running Roon Server.

Obviously you can max out the spend and get a NUC10i7 with loads of RAM and SSD space, but since it can run on a NUC5i3, then value for money also comes into it…

Long story short - a good level system which should offer decent UI power (for slick browsing) and rapid database access, and yet still be somewhat futureproof, at a decent price: 10i5.

The series 10 generation is not much more than the earlier series. The i3 is adequately powerful but many people report fast GUI responses with an i5 and above - but the i7 is not going to be necessary. Above generation 8 you can modify the bios to turn off the fan so have a quiet PC.

16GB RAM - 8 GB is probably enough but it’s not too much more for 16GB. 256GB Samsung m.2 SSD drive - the 256 is slight faster than the 128 because the chips are laid out slightly differently.

So, I’ve ordered the bits.

Now, I’ve been browsing eBay for similar machines, and pretty much all the 10i5’s (and generation 8’s too) are going for about 20% less than the new price, but there aren’t too many cheap ones around. I went to eBuyer but other vendors are available (Amazon is expensive for the NUC itself).

If you want to spend less, then a generation 5i3 will run it ok. If you want to spend all your money go for a gen 10 i7 - but that processor will spend most of its time idling.

I thing the 10i5 is pretty much the current sweet spot. Of course, YMMV, but if you’re thinking of doing the same, this may save you a lot of time…

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Interesting post.

I did have a Nucleus but sold it on as in my situation now living in a smaller property felt it was over the top!. At the moment using an iMac 2019 as the core but thinking of a project during the long dark nights of winter. I have a spare 2tb ssd drive and an Apple bluetooth keyboard and mouse that I used with a MacBook that I sold on ( Not sure wether they could be paired with a Nuc, but perhaps someone could let me know? ). I also have a spare HDMI lead on my tv so that could be used as a monitor during setup. Also have a TP Link ethernet switch/hub splitter that I use for the tv and other electronics so would a NUC be accessible connected to this?. So for about £350 could buy a NUC3i5 and 8gb and without sounding flippant if it does not work out for whatever reason, is not a lot of money in real terms.

If your library worked well on a Nucleus, then it will on a NUC5i3 with 8GB and a m.SATA SSD & have plenty of saving over a later Gen NUC or an overspec’ed version for your usage (and that of 99% of users)

16GB RAM is unnecessary except in the most extreme circumstances e.g. 1 million tracks. I doubt Roon will use extra RAM just because it’s present. The current 10th gen chips in NUCs seem to be predominantly differentiated by number of cores, not single core performance (but, “pick your benchmark”). So unless you’re doing some heavyweight filtering/DSP concurrent with multiple endpoints, a current i3 is likely to suffice in the majority of cases.

I suggest a different approach…Buy the fastest you can afford.

The price difference in NUC models isn’t significant (in the overall picture of a system’s cost), so why box yourself into a corner down the road for $100-200? It would cost more to replace it later on.

possibly - but my post was an attempt to balance the different demands of future-proofing, heat generation and hence fan noise, necessary progessing power, RAM etc.

I think my perspective gives the best bang for the buck, doesn’t give to too much of what you don’t need (unused power and heat) but is futureproof (16gb, etc.).

There is n0 doubt that as an embedded lightweight OS, ROCK will run fine on an i3 with 8GB. A bit more money gets you my suggestion which will be fine for years and years with no downsides now. Any more is, IMHO, really not worth it - having a noisy fan to manage the heat from an only idling i7 is a pain.

This is not my experience with a NUC10i7. In normal play mode with 2 zones, 24/192k hires streaming including DSP room correction and volume leveling does not start the fans to be noisy. The NUC stays silent. My local library consists of around 15k albums, more than 180k tracks. So when a rescan for rebuilding the database is necessary as it can occur on larger Roon updates/upgrades, the higher number of available cores helps. Of course during these hours the fans are noisy. No problem for me as the NUC with Rock installation is not in the listening rooms. Also, we do not know what will be the requirements of future Roon.