Roon Core on NUC w/ Windows 11 Pro vs ROCK


I got a pretty good deal on a second hand NUC8i5BEH including a 8Go RAM and a 256Go SSD. I was considering installing ROCK on the SSD but Win 11 Pro is already installed on it.
So my question is: is it best to keep Win 11 and move my existing Roon Core on it (on a macbook pro at the moment), or should I format the SSD and install ROCK, as I’d rather like to use my NUC headless?


ROCK all the way.

No fuss, no maintenance server with max performance from the NUC, as RoonOS is stripped down optimised just to run the Roon Core and minimum Comms.

If you need a NUC for another task, get another NUC.


The advantage with Windows is that you can use the machine for other things besides Roon. You never know.


I would take out the SSD that’s in there, and put it to one side; if it’s SATA, you can’t use it for Rock anyway. To install Rock, you’ll need an M2 drive (smallest you can find is fine) for the OS, and an optional, but separate, big SATA drive for your music files. If down the road you want to try Windows, just put the original drive back in. Note, Windows won’t recognize the Rock music SSD without additional software as it’s EXT4.

Thanks for your input! SSD is M.2. I already got an external SATA drive storing all my music files.
So let’s say I want to get rid of Win11, can I format the SSD with exFAT and install ROCK?

You just need to boot the rock install from a USB, the install process will take care of formatting the drive etc.

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I think 256GB is the smallest NVMe SSD you can get now.

I had to use one for my latest ROCK build, a NUC7i7DNKE with 16GB and a Samsung 970 Evo Plus 250GB - so the same board as a Nucleus+ but with additional memory and a faster NVMe SSD.

Thought that after years on an ex-work NUC5i3 with 8GB and 240GB SATA SSD, I should bump myself up a bit and add some future protection, as my library approaches the 100k track point.
Plus have a couple of the NUC5i3 as backup spares.

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Just to add my thoughts to @simon_pepper. I ran my core on a Mac Mini 2014 i5 for a year - and it was pretty good (very occasional ethernet disconnects that needed a reboot - and a little work maintaining the OS).

As an experiment I switched to a ROCK - and it’s much quicker - 100% reliable - and no hassle at all.

Mine is an 8i7 - which I’m sure is mostly idle (it certainly stays very cool in it’s fanless case).

I recently built another for my studio and ended up briefly trying an 8i3 with a 250G SSD and spinning disk I had sitting around for media… It was also very quick (I guess because the user experience depends on the SSD not the spinning disk).

So I’m sure you’ll be delighted with the ROCK, and if you don’t need it to be silent don’t rule out using a spinning drive (I think the NUC case limits you to a 2TB spinning drive).


I suggest you make a USB backup of your Windows 11 installation in case you ever want to go back easily. IMO ROCK on your NUC is the best way to go, I have tried both and the dedicated ROCK NUC has all the performance without the Windows intrusions and notifications, updates, etc.


If you want to install ROCK to get an improvement in SQ, don’t bother. If spite of what some people might imagine, there is no difference between a WIN Core and a ROCK Core in that regard.

The Roon principals have never advertised ROCK as supplying improved SQ.

ROCK lets one escape the relentless cycle of WIN updates and therefore presents a more stable environment to run Roon.

Over the years I’ve run Core on a Mac Mini, a WIN10 NUC and a ROCK NUC.
ROCK is the only way to go.


Yes that’s what I imagined about SQ. My main purpose here is to have the simplest solution, that I can leave next to my router and never touch again! :slight_smile:

You can use Windows headless as well. Just install RoonServer, set it to auto start, and set Windows to auto login.

If you don’t want to use RDP, you can use the free version of teamviewer or splashtop for remote control.

With Windows, you can use the OS drive to hold music and backups. With ROCK you need to get a smaller drive for the OS as it is unusable for anything else. And even if you install a 2nd drive for music storage, it can’t be used for backups so you would need USB storage for the backups (or a network location).

The other thing to keep in mind, is that you cannot run any diagnostics on ROCK. So, there is no way of knowing the thermals while running, potential hard drive issues, RAM issues, etc. To run diagnostics you will have to boot into a different OS.

Personally, I’d just replace the hard drive. Pull and store the Win 11 drive. Pop in a new drive and then install. That way, returning to Win 11 is just a drive change, in case you wanted to sell it. M.2 drives are cheap.


I’ve been using headless Windows machines for core for years now and background updates never got in my way.


Great, but that is not the experience of many people, especially concerning video drivers or inappropriate changes to Windows security options.

Really, what’s the point other than just to disagree?

Video drivers are not relevant in a headless system. I just disagree “ROCK is the only way to go”.

The OP was referring to running ROCK headless, not Windows, so (for Windows’ Core) video drivers are a consideration.

Doesn’t matter. Run Windows or ROCK. Don’t care.

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Yeah, it seems such a simple question. Perhaps if the forum had a linear power supply, there’s be less noise :rofl:


This gets a like, because I also suggested it, lol.