Roon Nucleus verses Apple Mac Mini M1

As a Mac only guy (I don’t even remember how to setup Windows computers anymore) I was going the Mac mini M1 route for a Room Server until I found yesterday the Lenovo ThinkCentre M90n with Intel i5 8265, 8GB RAM + 512GB M.2 Drive + Windows 10 Pro and 3 years warranty for $399 at Focus Camera. You can use the M90n as a Windows Roon Server or install ROCK in the second M.2 SSD (yes, the M90n supports dual M.2 SSDs). The same configuration is at Lenovo for almost $800.

I have to say, I don’t remember! Symmetric Multivariate Bombast? Something Microsoft Built? Synthetic Multicast Broadband?

It’s an opinion! It is startling to see opinions stated as if they were universal truth… but what you are gonna do… nature of forums! :smiley:

Lemme tell you my opinion/preference - I had a i5 Mac Mini lying around - can’t remember the generation… 2015? maybe even 2013… anyways… Stuck Ubuntu 20.04 on it, no problem , Roon Core - working well. Now I regret not having tried to install Roon ROCK - just laziness, I guess, I am sure even if the appropriate drivers were not there, I could get them in there… ah well - not inclined to tinker as the system is going now and rather listen to music - though the itch to try is great…

So - no need for VMs on Intel Mac Minis - Oh man - like I said in a previous post, I know is a pipe dream but hoping for 1) Native Linux on the Mac Mini M1 2) A Native Roon Core ! :smiley:

But well, I can do that. I understand that it is a big task for many people. I do admit I cannot grok that - IMHO, not rocket surgery… but well, that’s me…

YMMV - just my experience/opinion

1 Like

I chose an M1 Mac Mini as installing Roon on a fully built computer seemed easier (to me) than assembling a NUC. The Nucleus was more than I wanted to spend, but is an attractive option. In addition I have a monitor, keyboard and mouse hooked up in the office for occasional desktop navigation.

My first computer audio system was built around a Core 2 Duo Mac Mini with iTunes (I broke the Superdrive ripping my CDs) so there’s a little nostalgia for me too when it comes to the Mini.

1 Like

Hi GKern

That’s really interesting - lots of forum posts about older Mac mini’s being underpowered. Are you getting good performance on it - I jus5 so happen to have an old Mac mini but am currently running on a Synology918+ - does anyone think there would be any benefit to moving to the Mac?


Check this thread. It’s basically silent when used as ROCK.

I have a M1 Mac mini, 2017 27" 5K iMac and a 2014 13" MacBook Pro Retina so I can definitely compare them with the M90n but to me it’s just a waste of $$$ having a M1 Mac mini as Roon Server unless you use it for something else, which is not my case as I have already enough Mac at home. I just want a dedicated Roon Core, that’s all. If you plan to use the M1 Mac mini for other tasks, then that’s a no brainer.

1 Like

You’d have to go to a pretty old Mac Mini to hit the underpowered stage. People use the 2012s all the time. I think as long as you’ve got an i5 and 8gb of RAM you should be ok. My 2014 with 16GB runs Roon Core flawlessly.

Oh, cool !

Agreed entirely.

I can’t tell you about moving from a Synology, but I have no issues with my 2009 Mac Mini, and I run a not insignificant amount of DSP when using Roon.

1 Like

Oh it’s older than that :wink: I’ve got a 2008 Mac mini (just checked) and a 2009 MacBook Pro…

Well - know nothing about the Synology, (guess CBFed to web search) BUT - even if very powerful, I would say if I was using a NAS the main worry would be upgrade-ability - well, agreed, a bit more limited on an apple than on other boxes, but well, in theory still applies - theoretically possible to add more memory, tweak the internal hard drive (where the OS resides) etc. Also is the ability to tweak and optimize… at least, if you run Linux on the Mac Mini like I do…

Again, not sure how powerful is a Synology - is it possible to do DSP on them? ( I assume the DSP happens on the Core ) Maybe that would be a good reason…

All in all I will be captain obvious and say - if it works fine, you are fine… :smiley: Once I get a system working I only change it if:

  1. It stops working OR
  2. I am unable to fight the urge to tweak - fortunately doesn’t happen that often…


I was responding to the question I was asked about the performance of my old Mac Mini running Roon. I am not looking to change my system.

Ha ha - thanks for all the quick posts. I have to confess it’s a desire to tweak! Should put my effort and money into endpoints rather than servers - but that stuff is even harder!!

Great community spirit thank you!

One of the beauties about running an older MAC Mini is that they can be run on 12VDC and be totally silent!

Endpoints - INDEED !

I have only been running Roon for 3 days - like I mentioned in other posts, once I found out about the monthly plan, I went for it…


I am already thinking of

  1. Upgrading storage - currently running in a rust drive, as it was what I had available - SSD is the next step, obviously. Not that I am complaining - it does work well… but well, BETTER IS ALWAYS BETTER! :smiley:

  2. Decoupling my main system’s DAC from the Core - right now, my Schiit is attached to the Roon Core - thinking of this:

Ah - it never ends…


I agree! I’ve had more fun building my server and getting it setup. With storage cheap I’ll have to find other creative ways to use it. 24TB of usable space with 16GB MEM and Ryzen 3400g. I even have it in a low airflow cabinet and it still doesn’t seem to get hot. Want wait for the library to finish importing and getting its data sorted then running SongKong to clean it up.

I recommend building your own Allo DigiOne Signature streamer (not the normal one they use in that) and springing for the Shanti Dual Linear PSU.

That sounds like a good option, and a bit more flexible - could use the Pi 4 - love the Audiophonic case though! :smiley:

Historically NAS’s had crap cpus, maybe to save power or save cost.

Internet says yours has a Intel Celeron J3455.

So even an older mini will likely have more grunt than that. Though wouldn’t switch unless you actually have an issue and or already have a mini lying around collecting dust.

Yeah, that case is nicer, but just tuck it away behind stuff.