Roon Hardware Platform Suggestions


I’m a very new Roon subscriber and am having so much fun with this! I’m currently running my Roon Core on a desktop i5 Win10 pro unit which is also my living room general purpose PC for browsing, streaming Netflix etc. I understand from the info on the site and forum that this is not the optimum solution due to background processes etc. I am a single room user currently and the Core will be in the same living room room, 3m from my listening position.

I’m thinking about putting my Roon Core on a new separate machine. Nucleus is out of my budget. I have a small library of 5k tracks and am trialling Tidal & Qobuz. I intend to use room correction like HAF or REW via Roon if possible and maybe try upsampling as well.

My rig will be new Roon machine ->ethernet cable to Orbi mesh router, -> streamer (TBD) -> wired USB or SPIF ->DAC (likely Yggdrasil or Gugnir currently Chifi SMSL M8A) -> Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum 2 -> KEF LS50 & dual REL T9i subs. Control via iPad.

Should I go for ROCK on an i7 NUC? (Issues with fan noise? Fanless i7 NUC cooling issues? Convolution filters?)

Should I use instead a small form factor i7 pc (fanless? quiet fan?)

My son will build whatever I need for me. I won’t use a 2nd hand old Mac mini as I don’t want lack of software support issues down the road. I have average mac/pc software abilities. Zero Linux skills.

Whatever I choose needs to have high WAF as my rig is pretty much in the focal point of my living room and I don’t want to be unfair to my very supportive Mrs.

If anything is unclear please let me know and thank you for having such an amazingly vibrant and supportive community.



I would stretch the budget for a Nucleus or Nucleus+

If your son can build it for you, I’d go with a nuc with ROCK on it. That’s what I did, and i’m quite pleased.


But you want a fanless case with it being so close.

How does your current setup sound?

At low listening volumes and not running upsampling or any room correction you can hear the fans of the pc quite audibly. This is because the pc was built with a low cost fan/cooler unit. My son says its a small job for him to replace the fan with a quiet one and better cooling but I’ve read in the ROON guidance notes that it isn’t a good idea to have a general purpose pc running ROON CORE due to electrical noise etc. I can’t say I have highly sensitive hearing but the whole reason I got into ROON was to try to get more out of my rig. I don’t chase the best and greatest and don’t have the deep pockets that entails in any case. I consider my amp/speaker/subs my end game. I’m looking to improve my digital source (ROON machine/streamer and DAC) and when that’s done, I will quit buying and enjoy listening and tweaking with the help of this forum.

I’d suggest a NUC running ROCK located next to your router. It could be i5 or i7, if you locate it away from the sound system you won’t have to worry about fan noise.

Then you can use a silent Roon Ready streamer to interface with your DAC. You can get good results from a Pi with a Digi-One board or a Sonore ultra-Rendu.

I recently switched my Roon core from a Dell XPS 15 laptop to a Roon Nucleus and could not be happier. My Dell has an i7 6 core processor with 32 GB ram and 1 TB SSD. It is way more than enough power to run Roon, but I still had delays in loading some albums, especially 24/192 Qobuz files.

My Nucleus has, so far, been flawless. It runs 24/7 and is totally silent and cool to the touch. I installed a 1 TB SSD for music storage, but I have very few albums of my own. The Nucleus loads albums almost instantaneously, has no skips or blips or problems of any kind.

I strongly recommend you get a Nucleus or have your son build a NUC with no spinning drives and with a fanless case. You will be able to control it with your computer, an iPad, iPhone, or Android device or all of the above.

A Nucleus is out of my budget. I love the look for a living room and no doubt it has been optimised by the wonderful ROON team to showcase their software but I’ve got to be realistic about the cost. My son can build the NUC with whatever RAM and storage needed. He questioned the need for a fanless build as he says the case is very expensive and might not handle the heat from an i7 under load. I have to locate the unit on the bench in the photo for various reasons and this is also where the router is located. Are the fans on an i7 NUC noisy under load? I do like the NUC/ROCK approach but I live in Singapore and it gets hot here with pretty much 32C room temperatures year round so I worry about cooling.

You should do some searches on this site regarding fan noise. I’ve never heard one, but I think it can be noisy unless located in another room.

Thanks so much @Jim_F, this is what I was hoping current users would be able to tell me. I have looked through this forum but it’s not conclusive. I was wondering whether a pc with a quieter fan or passive cooling would suffice. Thank you in any case and I’m so glad you’re enjoying your Nucleus.

First prize would be to locate the core somewhere out of your listening area and run an Ethernet cable

That way any old pc , noisy or otherwise

I use a tower desktop, i7, 16 gb ram and hoards of HDD but in a room far away …

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Exactly, and precisely what Roon suggests doing.

@Roy_Gaggino If you haven’t done so, read through Roon’s recommendations here:

@Rugby @Mike_O_Neill, yes I realise thats the gold standard but I only have a direct wired connection to the router in the living room. All other rooms use mesh wifi via my ORBI mesh network. Individual ORBI stations do have the possibility to have a wired connection to them which are then wifi linked to the router but I understand that this is not recommended by ROON. Maybe I need to give up upsampling and just use room correction. Would this then put much less demand on the pc? Seems a shame not to be able to use the full capabilities of the software though.

Where is your router in relation to your music system? If it’s right next to it, the answer is obvious. Have your son build you a totally silent, fanless NUC. Connect the NUC to your router using ethernet. Fanless cases look to be around $100 +/- on Amazon.

Since it will be connected via ethernet, there’s no reason for your Roon Core machine to be in the same room. Stick it in some other room of the house, and you won’t have to worry about fan noise. That’ll give you much greater latitude in deciding what hardware to buy (and greater WAF — which you say is an issue).

With a small library of 5k tracks, an i5 might suffice. But, if you are going to do significant DSP (on an i5 or an i7), you definitely want good heat dissipation. Hence the fan and the more sensible placement of the machine.

Yes, it might be easy to run an ethernet cable from the router location through a wall to an adjacent room. I did that when I was running Roon core on my laptop and wanted a wired connection.

For the time being stick with what you have, but change Roon to the server version so it runs in the background on your PC. Then do everything you want on it and see how it manages. We are right on the cusp of the emergence of rev10 NUCs. Right now they are too new but in 6 months we will have a better idea of how they will fit in with Roon, and stuff like silent cases will be out there. Also a M-ITX build with ROCK gives you options like a built in optical drive.

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I see the Orbi next to your stereo rig. Is that the router or the Satellite? If it’s the Satellite, where is the router located? That’s presumably where you want the Roon Core machine.