Roon Core Build

I am completely new to Roon and am in the process of deciding on where I want to host the Core. I initially considered updating my old QNAP NAS server to one that is Roon Core compatible but have read that the NAS drives greatly underperforms compared to a dedicated Core running Rock.

So, I think that I want to completely redo my old HTPC which I having used in over a decade. The case is a Thermaltake LUXA2 LM300 PRO which accept up to ATX size MBs. I’d like to make it as fanless as possible for noise and dust mitigation.

Here is the list of components that I am considering right now:

-Intel Core i9-12900 2.4 GHz 16-Core Processor with Noctua NH-P1 Fanless CPU Cooler

-ASUS ROG Strix Z790-A Gaming WiFi D4 LGA1700 (not for the gaming but for the ALC4080 codec for high-resolution playback up to 32-bit/384 kHz and integrated Savitech amplifier)

-TEAMGROUP T-Force Vulcan Z 256GB for Linux and Roon Rock

-G.Skill Ripjaws S5 64 GB (2 x 32 GB) DDR5-5600 CL28 Memory

-SK hynix Platinum P41 2TB PCIe NVMe Gen4 M.2 x 2 for media storage

-SeaSonic Prime Fanless PX-500 500 W 80+ Platinum Fanless ATX Power Supply

I image that much of this is overkill. Here are my questions for you who are seasoned Roon veterans.
Does the community have any recommendations/modifications?
Is the Asus ROG SupremeFX compatible with Linux i.e. Roon?
Does the quality of the on board sound even matter? (The Core will be accessed over the ethernet but I may plug the Core directly into my Trinnov Alt16 via HDMI)
I’d like to include a CD-R to burn more CD’s directly into the library. Does Roon Rock support this or do I need a separate Linux program and if so which one?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Any NUC that is on the approved list will be more than enough. Get fast memory.

1 Like

Rock is built to run on the list of specified hardware. Running it on anything else is not a supported environment.

If you want to use the parts you listed you are better off using linux or windows, imho.


Forst question is what is my use case? This determines the choice of the core setup.
No heavy DSP work with medium sized library (100.000 tracks) any i3 or 5 NUC would do.
I run a Synology 720+ with extended memories and SSDs for cache and Roon database and runs very well on 6 endpoints with some DSP work.

1 Like

My goal is to use my existing HTPC case which is sitting on my HT rack unused for over a decade. I would hate to just trash this otherwise nice HTPC case. Additionally, I’ll be tempted to purchase something very expensive to fill the space. :wink:

I’m I going about this all wrong? It seems like just buying an Intel NUC would be easier but would it be necessarily better?

I have built many of my own high-end gaming PC’s but have no experience with Linux let alone Roon.

Rock can be installed on none NuC hardware it seems to run pretty much on any intel based board I have had, but your mileage may vary. Whilst it’s not officially supported it won’t stop you getting support for Roon just not if it’s core related they may ask for you to change that if it’s an issue. I’ve been using a none NuC for 4 years no issues core side and I get support for Roon from the team just the same.

If it were me, I’d buy a high-spec NUC and put it behind that case (or inside if air flow was good). Unless you get real enjoyment out of building a PC and would do it in any case, it’s overkill and will net you zero upside in system performance, plus (assuming you install MOCK) being relegated to “tinkering” instead of support in the situation where something goes awry with your core. But I’m a KISS person in terms of upstream digital, and others have very different opinions.

Three years ago, when subscribing for the first time to Roon, I decided to build a dedicated fanless PC for running Roon server on Linux, not ROCK. I didn’t have a case and decided on a HDPlex case with passive cooling and HDPlex 200W power supply.

I decided on an Asus Prime H310I-Plus R2.0/CSM mini-ITX motherboard, an Intel Core i5 8600K processor, 16 GB RAM, a small Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 drive for OS/Roon and a Samsung 860 EVO SATA SSD for music file storage. This has been running 24/7, with ample resources for a 250.000 tracks database.

If I now had to build a new PC for the same purpose, I would go with an Asus Prime H610I-Plus D4-CSM mini-ITX board with an Intel Core i5 12600 processor (3.3 GHz base, 4.8 GHz turbo). Six cores are more than enough for running Roon, taking into account that the single core performance is more important than total core count. This processor has a base power of 65W, and this is what my case can easily cool.

The reliability and performance of the NVMe M.2 drive are important, so I would consider a Samsung 980 Pro with heatsink.

Only the largest databases on Roon really will benefit of more than 16 GB RAM, so 64 GB is clearly overkill. The same can be said for the processor. You don’t need an i9 with 16 cores.

Not at all. Roon will output a digital stream over the network or local interfaces, so no need to go for fancy on-board sound systems.


I used to build my own machines, so I understand the attraction with shopping for and assembling all the bling.

A $700 NUC running ROCK will probably give you all the compute power you need and be completely maintenance free, but whatever floats your boat.

Thank you everyone for all the information. This is exactly the feedback that I need to make an informed decision.

You haven’t said yet what your usage will be

  • How many tracks/albums in the library?
  • DSP?
  • How many zones simultaneously?

Without this info, all recommendations are limited. An 11th gen i7 NUC with ROCK is enough for 99% of people, but not if you are going to have 1 million tracks or convolution filters to 5 simultaneous zones

I haven’t ripped many of my CDs yet but all together equal to about 300 discs. I plan on also ripping and including about 20 SACDs. There will be at most 3 active zones at one time but typically only one zone most of the time.

And streaming? Albums on streaming count just as much in the database. We just need to know the ballpark of what you expect - 300 albums, 10,000, 50,000, 100,000

I can see wanting to reuse parts you have, but all you’re really saving is the case. I have a Nucleus now, but my next core will be a home built PC or a NUC running Rock. If a PC, I’ll probably use a Streacom. My desktop is in a Streacom FC8 and is dead quiet (no fans). It’s got an I7 and has been running for about five years now with an ASUS MB. That’s what I’ll probably use for my next core. If I go NUC, I’ll get an Akasa Turing fanless case for it. Bottom line, if your’re just trying to save a ten year old case, it’s probably not worth it.

And yet, the most common argument you can read on this forum with regard to high prices of Nucleus/Nucleus Plus is their nice-looking cases… other than that, it’s more or less a vanilla NUC. So, if you already own a good and nice-looking case, why not do a custom build and reuse it?

I recently subcribed to TIDAL HIFI so my streaming will be through it. As far as albums through streaming, it’s difficult to say. Most will be through playlists and I currently have about 20 with 50-100 tracks in each.

It sounds like you would be fine with a NUC. Some people know from the start that they are going to load hundreds of thousands of tracks into Roon (we had one guy who tried with 2+ million), and in that case you wouldn’t

I am a Roon newbie. Like 5 hours as I type this. However I have put together many computers, (workstations and servers) personally and for work. To the point that it is not really fun for me to do that any more.

I bought a NUC to compare to a streaming device I have on loan now. The NUC is relatively cheap, especially relative to the device I’m auditioning. Installation of ROCK was trivial, after installation I moved it near my system, plugged it in, connected ethernet and USB to my Topping D90 DAC.

I am delighted. It probably sounds identical to the streamer. My ears can’t tell a difference. (admittedly I am not doing critical A/B tests, it’s good enough my first impression was “no need to spend more money or time on this”).

My conclusion: Assuming an otherwise quality system and a quality DAC that works well with USB, there is no reason to do anything special. The NUC works. An added bonus for me is that the NUC is small enough I can keep it (relatively) distant from the analog portion of my setup.

Best of luck to you.


Welcome Kelly! Thanks for posting here 5 hours in.

Glad you found the NUC/ROCK works well, a lot of people take more than 5 hours to get there.

A note- when you do move your core far from your analog section, as you should / might as well do for numerous reasons (separation of concerns means DAC doesn’t have to deal with data stream that might in rare cases be compromised by heavy computational load on the ROCK, isolation of electrical noise/RF from noisy computer)… then you will still need a streamer. You can do just fine, and perfectly from an audio perspective, again building your own RPi using a freeware device image called RoPieee (search around here). So ROCK in your server track connected to your core switch, RoPieee sitting next to your analog section connected to the topping via USB, and streaming ideally via Ethernet but many are fine with WiFI. Long USB runs, and direct ROCk/DAC usb runs are both possible but I don’t love them for a number of reasons if you can avoid.

Good luck and enjoy!

1 Like

I read about RoPieee yesterday, yes it sounds perfect for me. Thanks!

1 Like