Roon Core on a Dedicated Mac Mini or Shared Mac Pro?

I would suggest upgrading the HDD to an SSD for all the reasons above…this SSD can be added to the Second internal bay within the Mac Mini

However, an even quicker and easier solution would be to add an External Thunderbolt connected drive and make it the Boot Drive, e.g.

It would also be worth upgrading the existing RAM from 4Gb to 16Gb as Roon does benefit from more RAM as well

I’d like to thank everyone for their input. It’s very helpful.

Both machines are currently running 24/7. The Mac Mini, running Audirvana and the Mac Pro for everything else. The switches are back hauled with 10 Gigabit fibre so, I’m fine for bandwidth.

Right now the Mini has enough storage, so I’ll probably hang on until Samsung release an 8TB SSD. By the time that happens the 4TB will be able to demonstrate reliability and be a lot cheaper! In general I’ve done pretty well over the years by being one step behind the HDD and SSD capacity curve.

Thanks again for the insight.

@rbienstock I would highly recommend either swapping out or replacing the internal spinning disk with an SSD. Not only will it transform the Mini’s performance, it will extend its life even further. Both OWC and iFixit have excellent guides.

Is that because a ‘quieter’ dedicated machine may yield better audio quality? That was the logic behind the Audirvana setup on the Mac Mini because it was directly connected to my DAC over USB.

Now my Sonore microRendu is on the way I’ve moved the Mini into the rack in the basement away from my hifi. If Roon could support Deezer Elite, I’d be able to get rid of the Sonos Connect as well :wink:

I was thinking about reliability and operational simplicity–a dedicated machine that isn’t being mucked with for other reasons is going to feel more like an always on appliance and less like an app running on a computer.

Deezer and Sonos have an exclusivity agreement–hence all of the “available only on Sonos” language in their marketing materials. Not much we can do about that on our end, unfortunately.

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Thanks @brian. Regarding Deezer. I was aware of the exclusivity deal with Sonos, so just wishful thinking on my part. Hopefully things will change in the future.

I have a Mac Mini (Mid 2011) 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5, 16GB Ram, 120GB SSD. 2TB External Hard Drive connected via FireWire 800. I have the Schiit Gungnir connected via USB. Mac OS X 10.9.5 is installed on the SSD along with my applications. Roon Server, Plex and that Popcorn thing (hehehe) All my music & 1:1 BluRays are stored on the 2 TB FireWire external. Currently I am using 996GB and this handles all my media just fine. I have access to all things Thunderbolt since I sell OWC products and I can tell you that the added cost of external thunderbolt isn’t worth the performance increase. Sure thunderbolt is great for copying 10 TB of Data , and editing 4K film, MacPro is best to keep using for your 4K rendering in my opinion. Cheers.

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I just wanted to say a final thank you. All set up and running now on the Mac Mini. It turns out I had some extra RAM hanging around so it’s up to 16GB now.

I’m new to ROON, and have been playing with it on my surface Pro4.
I want to get Roon server set up properly, and I’m primarily a Mac user.
I started looking at running Roon on a NUC with Windows or Linux, building the hardware and installing the OS. But having investigated, it seems that by the time I’ve bought a NUC/RAM/SSD and OS (if windows), I’m getting to a similar price to a recent secondhand Mac Mini. Wouldn’t it just make sense for me to buy a MM i5 and add RAM (if required), and fit an SSD I have here already?
Or am I missing something here?
Sorry it’s a bit of a noob question.

I’ve gone Linux in a headless NUC. Main contributing factors for me were wanting a dedicated machine, speed (M.2 SSD) and less OS overhead, but I’ve probably overspecced it.

Do be aware that more recent Mac Minis do not have upgradable RAM.

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No, you’re not missing anything, in my opinion. My MacMini (2011 w/ 8 gig memory) runs Roon great. It runs headless most of the time though I like to turn the monitor on when other people are listening. Apple’s screen sharing and remote apps work like a charm.

Mine doesn’t have an SSD. And due to my library size, I have an external HD connected via firewire.

Works great. Sounds great. And no USB drivers needed for hi-res listening on my DAC.

Plus, it has everything you need (including HDMI) to surf, stream, and sync to iOS devices. You know, for when you’re not listening to music via Roon.


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I’m beginning to think that a Mac Mini (Late 2012) in i5 and with whatever RAM and drive happen to be installed might be the cheapest way to go. It’ll be headless, unless I want to access it remotely. I don’t intend using it for anything else, but a smooth and snappy experience is important to me.
I have around 130k tracks/13k albums, with about an 80/20 split of 16/44.1 and Hi-Res music.
It looks like your’e right, dpstjp. The late 2012 was the last 'Mini to allow the ram to be upgraded. Thanks for the heads-up.

Woah! (This is me walkng back my recommendation)

Not with 130K tracks!

Go with a NUC.

Apologies if I failed to see that library size before I opened my trap. There’s been discussion here about Apple’s performance with yuge libraries like yours.

Research on!

It will work but not as snappy as you like.

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If you want something simple to set up consider the sonictransporter. You will need the i5 at least.

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Not even with the i7 mini?

At those prices, I’ll have a stab at setting one up myself. I just thought that a MAC would be a no-brainier.
TBH my i5 Surface Pro 4 seems to handle the library ok, but as mentioned, I know the Core needs to run on its own machine.

I’m wondering about the i7 Mini now. It’ll be dedicated and headless.

I cant find the thread and posting where this discussion took place. It was the last month or so.

A Roon Developer wrote how Apple’s OS isn’t as efficient reading/writing large libraries as a NUC would be. (I am paraphrasing.)

Hoping @support will notice this and point to the discuusion. Thanks in advance guys.

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The Mac Mini hardware is pretty good and the 2011 / 2012 models are easily upgraded with more RAM / storage. If you already have the hardware then I see no reason to go with something else. MacOS appears to have some issues (especially when connected to a NAS), but Windows and Linux are both excellent platforms on which to run Roon. Might be worth doing a native Windows or Linux install on the box… Personally I’m loving RoonServer on Linux and that’s the route I would take.

Ubuntu Server 16.04.1 loads perfectly well and with a little tweaking you can get a pure UEFI boot.

Also, be sure to load macfanctld and update the config file to ignore all of the sensors that are kicking out screwy values.

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Try this link and read thread:

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Thank you so much, Tom and Andrew, your advice and the link explain everything. Now I understand why people could be experiencing issues with OS-X and large libraries.

Although my library is far smaller than the ones cited in the thread, and I doubt I’d run into quite the same issues, it IS a concern that the issue could arise.

Regarding the hardware. No, I haven’t bought anything yet, so the world is my oyster. Of course, I’d simply assumed I’d either buy a MM if planning to run OS-X, or NUC if running Windows. I’d never considered buying a MM and running Windows on it, but why not? I’ve had and used Windows on my MacBook for years, when required. It’s very stable.
But I’ve never thought I could successfully run Linux on a MM!
Or all three! (Not at the same time, of course!) :relaxed:

My listening room is about to have a makeover, and the Hi-Fi is currently functional but not in its full state of setup, so I’m not in a huge rush, and that gives me choices as far as choosing hardware is concerned.
A S/H MM is about £500 for a 2012 i7/8gb. Factor-in £100 for 16gb ram at some stage. (Those 2012 MMS are sought after, it seems).
Then possibly add Windows for another £100.
A current new NUC i7 seems to be about the same sort of price (albeit with later generation of i7 processor and everything else, for that matter). But of course limits the ability to run OS-X if I wanted to.

One other area of interest is that, because I’m an AV installer, I want to install Roon for a couple of my clients. I don’t think their collections are huge, but to have a one-stop HW solution would be very cool. Having said that, I’m not hell-bent on installing Apple HW. If a NUC provides a robust platform, with the minimum of recurring maintenance, I’m more than happy to go with that.

I know nothing about Linux, Andrew, but I’m consistently reading that it’s a sonically better option for players/end points, so it does interest me.
Again, in the name of experimentation, is it about the same difficulty to install onto either MM or NUC?

Thanks again folks.