Roon core and ALAC archive together on NUC8i5BEH?

Recently I bought a NUC8i5BEH with 500 GB SSD and 16 GB RAM and am interested in using it to host a Roon core as well as my collection of about 240 GB of ALAC files. Right now the SSD has Windows 10 Pro on it.

Can/should the core and music files be on the same box? Does it seem like the NUC8i5BEH would be up to this?

Can/should the OS, Roon software and ALAC files all reside on the same 500 GB SSD? If not, what would be the best option for the ALAC files? Offhand I don’t recall if the NUC8i5BEH supports a second internal drive. Would a USB external drive probably be okay speedwise?

Would an OS other than Windows 10 Pro be a better choice?

Do you know if the 500 GB SSD is on an M.2 drive, or is a SATA drive? That NUC will hold both.
How you might proceed from there depends on what is in there now. For what you want to do, you’ll be okay. That is a very capable NUC for Roon.

Thanks. The existing SSD is a Samsung EVO 970 M.2.

If a separate drive is desirable for the ALAC files, I have an EVO 960 SATA SSD I could try to install, if there aren’t any size etc issues.

Okay. Then you could add another, larger SATA SSD at some point in the future and store your music there.
You can run everything all on the same disk now, and it should work fine. Another option is a USB drive.
Many of us run ROCK (a custom Roon build for NUCs) on our NUCs. If you did that the M.2 drive would have to be dedicated to the ROCK database and could not hold music. Then you’d need to put the music on another internal SATA SSD or a USB drive.
There are upsides and downsides to any of these choices, but you are in a good place with what you are doing now.

Great. So the quickest way to do a trial sounds like it would be to put Roon and the ALAC files on the M.2 drive currently in the NUC and demo it under Windows 10. Or, put Roon on the M.2, and put the ALAC files on the other mentioned SSD set up as either an internal SATA or as a USB drive.

One other question for now: In brief, what would be the primary benefits in running ROCK on the M.2 vs going with Windows (or Linux?)?

ROCK is just Roon, nothing else. Built to work as an appliance. There are no Microsoft updates or other extraneous processes running not needed by Roon. It is very sleek and stable. ROCK is free.
If you know Windows, you’ll be familiar with it. It may have some features you’d like to have. Windows license cost $$.
Linux is Linux. For me, the downsides of Windows but I’m always uncomfortable with it.

Thanks. Assuming everything goes well, it sounds like I’m going to want to use ROCK. The Windows updates can be a hassle, and I can certainly save that license for another box.

My only concern about ROCK was if it might require a fair amount of Jedi-level fiddling, but from what you say it sounds pretty straightforward.

Actually one hopefully final question. If I’m going to swap out the M.2 and get a new one to dedicate to ROCK, what would be the optimal size for that? Looks like 250 GB, 500 GB and 1 TB are reasonably affordable.

Just to be clear. Rock is a linux based closed OS. You cannot install anything else onto it, nor can you access the file system. It becomes an appliance as Scott mentioned.

More importantly, the OS drive CANNOT be used for anything else, including music storage. Since the OS and Roon will probably take up less than 40 gb on the OS drive, that is a whole lot of storage hardware to be wasting. You would be better served by getting a smaller drive to function as the OS drive.

Personally, I like using Windows and have done so for 5 years as my main core, so, give it a shot now with Windows. You can always move over to ROCK later.

Thanks, Daniel. My going-in assumption was that ROCK was probably built on Linux. I’m an occasional Linux user, have Raspbian on a couple of RPi’s, etc. Generally I’ve found that it tends to require more tinkering.

So I’ll try out Roon with my existing Win 10 installation on the NUC, and then make further decisions from there.

Hmm, another couple of questions. If I install Roon on my existing M.2 with Win 10, my options for my ALAC collection are, in order of easy-to-more-involved: (1) put it on the same M.2 drive as the OS and Roon; (2) put it on an external SSD plugged into USB; or (3) install a SATA SSD in the NUC and put it on that.

The first question is, any suggestion on which of those would be best overall, at least for demo purposes?

Second question is, if I put the music files on the same M.2 SSD as the OS and Roon, is the usual thing just to create a new directory under C:\ in Windows and place the music files there? If not, what would be the best config?

Thanks again.

It depends.

If you are going to stay with Windows then, just create a folder on the drive and point Roon to the folder in Settings/Storage. ( or you can just dump everything in Music, but, I don’t like to do that).

If you might switch to ROCK later, than having it on an external USB would mean that you could just blow away Windows to install Rock without having to worry about copying off the music first.

NAS has its own issues. Roon works better, imho, if the music is local and you use the NAS as a backup. Roon works by pulling the music from storage to the server, processing it and then sending it back out. If it is local then no lag. If it is over the network then you have to stream the music from the NAS to the PC and network issues can result in playback issues depending upon the quality of your home network. Best not to add potential pitfalls into the mix, again imho.

Thanks, that should get me started.

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Regardless of if you use ROCK or Windows, I would just put the ALAC files on the secondary SATA SSD that you have. That way, you don’t have to worry about transferring them from the M.2 drive to the SATA drive.
I recently set up my NUC8i7BEH with ROCK on the M.2 SSD and all my ALAC files on a 2TB SATA SSD (a Samsung 860evo), and it was really easy. It has worked flawlessly ever since. I also would not worry about getting a new M.2 drive. Although according to ROON you only need 128 GB M.2 SSD for ROCK OS, why waste the money on buying a new, smaller SSD? Unless you have a better use for the 500GB M.2 SSD somewhere else, it won’t hurt anything be being larger than you need.

It took me a while to decide if I was going to use Roon ROCK or if I was going to use a Mac mini with Roon Server installed. Basically all of the music servers out there run a modified and stripped down Linux OS. The purpose is so that there is nothing else running on the computer in the background while playing music. That allows all of the NUC’s resources to focus on providing the best experience and sound quality. Switching from using Roon on my iMAC, which functioned as the core and the control, I immediately noticed improved sound quality when I switched to my NUC running Roon ROCK.

Thanks, good background and interesting to know.

I actually have some other uses for a NUC running Windows, so what I might end up doing is just getting a new NUC and M.2 for the ROCK setup. If I go that route, is there a good case to be made for a NUC8i7BEH instead of the i5 I currently have? I see people here mention the i7 version a lot. If I were starting from scratch that way, any thoughts on an optimal size for the M.2 SSD? I wouldn’t want to go too small to save a few bucks in case the software needs (or can benefit from) more disk storage at any point in the future.

As things stand now, I got Roon set up on the existing NUC a couple of hours ago, and have been running it remotely from a MacBook. I have a few odds and ends to figure out, such as how to power down the NUC if needed without causing problems for Windows or the Roon system.

In terms of performance, I’ve noticed two things so far. On the one hand streaming seems smooth to an amp/speakers system through a Bluesound Node 2i, but on the other hand I get regular glitches (sound dropout for a half second or so) when I try to stream to a pair of Sonos 5:Gen2 speakers in one room. Wifi issue somewhere along the way?

The other issue I’ve noticed is that, when clicking on a new song in my ALAC library within the Roon app, I fairly frequently get the error “An audio file is loading slowly …”. It then skips over to the next song and plays that smoothly. The ALAC files are on an SSD connected to the NUC by USB. Maybe that and/or the NUC’s CPU speed?

It really depends on the size of your library and your intended uses. If you look at Roon’s standard Nucleus, it uses an i3 and is recommended for libraries up to 10,000 albums and it will do most DSP processing and upscaling, except for some of the highest DSD settings. Their Nucleus+ is for libraries over 10,000 albums and will do all DSP functions and uses the i7. When I was looking for my NUC, I could find the i7 model for the same price as the i5, so there was no reason not to get the i7. Plus, a little future proofing never hurt.
In regards to the M2 SSD, Roon recommends nothing smaller than 64GB and nothing larger than 128 GB. I went with the 128GB M2 SSD.
My first guess for the dropouts would be a wifi or network issue, but it could be a number of things. I have my NUC connected using the LAN port. I don’t really know enough about the Bluesound or Sonos systems to give an opinion on if the issue is on the NUC, with your WIFI or those products. Hopefully someone else can chime in, or you can go to the support section and Roon people Weill help you out with that and the issue of your files loading too slowly and then getting skipped.
The i5 with 4-8gb of ram is plenty fast if you are running Roon ROCK, but maybe its not enough to run Roon Core and Windows? I really don’t know. But you are starting to see the appeal of just running Ronn Rock on a NUC. Nothing else gets in the way or takes up system resources.

Here is the Roon page about their recommended NUC models and configurations

Thanks! That link to the page about NUC models is a great help. It looks like Amazon is showing the i3 NUC as unavailable right now, but another i5 might be good to have anyway.

sure. Heck, i do it on an old macbook pro that’s about 5 generations behind. The only issues potentially arise if you use DSP heavily.

You might also want to look through this thread.
@simon_pepper did a comparison of an older i3 NUC against my 8i7. Basically we could not find the place where the i7 does things the i3 does not. Surely they exist, but they aren’t obvious. So a difference between an i5 and i7 will not be significant in the Roon scheme of things, I would think.

Thanks, interesting information there.

For me there may be some benefit in having an i7 NUC with Windows for other purposes. So what I might do is buy an i7, move the existing M.2 SSD with Windows onto it, and then get a new M.2 SSD for my existing i5 NUC to run ROCK on. I assume (hope?) the i7 vs i5 hardware is close enough that Windows won’t have an issue being moved from one NUC to another.