Roon server headless on a NUC: CPU/RAM needed for best performance?

I’m on the way to buy a dedicated NUC to run Roon server 24/7 headless (in a closet).
My library is near 10.000 albums (100.000 tracks, on a dedicated quite powerfull NAS)

NUC6I5SYH (new Intel Skylake architecture) is available and permits to use as much as 32 GB RAM.

From a Roon performances point of view:

  1. 32 GB RAM usefull (vs a 16GB setup) ?
  2. OS WIN 10 pro (64bits) OK ? Alternatives ?
  3. Is it worth to wait availability for a more powerfull I7 Skylake setup ? (more heat, but fan noise is not an issue)


  1. 16GB is plenty
  2. Win10 x64 is good. There are performance benefits with each version transition between 7->10. No reason to be behind.
  3. I don’t think you need to. The current i7, or even i5, will probably more than do what you need.

10k albums is big, but we have users in the 25-30k (maybe even more) range. I am a big believer in “faster is better”, but you’ve got some wiggle room here.

Take care to equip it with an HDD capable of continuous operation - those are not that common in the 2,5" form factor required for the NUC and quite expensive. Since the Roon server does not yet seem to support standby/wakeup cycles cleanly, you might have to keep the NUC always on - real 24/7.

I run Roon with Win10 64 on a NUC2820FYKH with 4 GB, clearlymuch less powerful than your configuration. Mostly it runs fine, but occasionally I get bursts of dropouts. I have yet to investigate, might be caused by Windows update installations running in parallel to Roon.

Thank you @brian and @Georg_Niedrist.
I was planning to buy a M2 SSD drive (128 or 256 GB only) , audio files are on a NAS.
Hope this is suitable for a 24/7 always on setup ?

SSD on NUC and audio files on a NAS should be fine IMO. I am thinking about changing to an SSD and an external HDD too - to hopefully solve both the continuous operation and the dropout issue.

Yeah, that should be fine.

Personally, I like keeping audio files on a direct-connected drive. Scanning directories and real-time watching are faster/better locally. I periodically back up music to a NAS, but keeping a copy of the music locally isn’t too huge a burden, given the availability of 4-6TB hard drives. Roon will work fine either way, but I thought I’d mention it in case you haven’t considered that configuration yet.

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One possible caveat. If you are also running HQ Player, would the core i7 have additional benefits. Also, would there be benefits for dual core vs. quad core?


Absolutely. HQPlayer wants as much CPU as you can throw at it, and more cores are a great idea if that’s part of the plan.

Unfortunately, NUC computers are only dual core.

I am aware that Skull Canyon will be out 2nd quarter, which is i7, but not sure if any NUCs are quad core.

Don’t know about NUCs but there are plenty of quad core BRIX

My setup is very similar to yours. I have a Synology 1815+ NAS and I just purchased a NUC 5i5 instead of waiting for the version 6 to show up on shelves. I put in 16gb RAM and used a specific M.2 that has a faster data path, 128gb (or 256gb) Samsung SM951 nVME type. All network connections are ethernet to a switch. While I don’t use HQPlayer it seems very snappy and I’ve had zero issues with dropouts so far. Good luck.

I have almost the same setup. Works extremely well for me.

Thank’s all for the insights.

I think i’m going to buy NUC6ISYH now available in Europe (16GB and fast M2 SSD).
Win Pro (64b) to start and then I will upgrade to Linux if and when Roon available with good performances on such OS.

M2 SSD in the NUC is astonishingly quick. Complete shut down and restart of win10 is about 15s. I’m very pleased I went with that.

[quote=“andybob, post:10, topic:7210, full:true”]
Don’t know about NUCs but there are plenty of quad core BRIX[/quote]
How are these BRIX performing. I see more negative reviews of them than positive.

I have a few NUC’s but recently have been trying out the J1900 and N3700 based motherboards. The J1900 is about equal speed wise to my 5i5RYH, and the N3700 (only had it a few days) seems better performance and both have better sound with no tweaking, etc. And improved more with a PPA v2 USB card.

The downside of these other MB’s is they have only a 1x PCIe slot and a soldered CPU. And those wanting to use add-on cards are very limited but a PPAv2 USB card will work.

Found a nice small case for the m-ITX MB’s at Case Logic who also has a flexible riser for the PCIe slot. Running all from HD-Plex LPS.

I can’t say Dan and it is probably wrong of me to refer to them without knowing. In a form factor that size I would expect a quad i7 to at least turn on it’s fan when operating at any kind of stress.

My Brix S has a dual core i7 and an mSata slot (for the OS) and a Sata slot (1TB SSD for my library). There are four core i5s available in a similar configuration which look pretty interesting (plus they’re red).

My dual core i7 can run everything in Roon and all the HQP filters, but the fan turns on with closed and at the start of poly-sinc-short-mp (which is my go to filter). I’m not sure how a quad-core i5 would compare.

How are these BRIX performing. I see more negative reviews of them than positive.

I’ve got a 5th gen i5-5200 dual core Brix that replaced the comparable NUC model i was having all sorts of BIOS issues with. Absolutely no issues with the Brix at this point.

Watch for the Intel NUC Skull Canyon. Quad core i7 with the option to add an external graphics card. The size will be a bit bigger, but this looks to be a big improvement.

Just for a bit of perspective, my J1800 Celeron based NAS can decode 4k video on the fly.

Decoding 4k is pretty easy: it’s a constrained problem, the data rate and decoding techniques are well known, and everyone + their mother optimizes against that use case when designing chips, since it’s a common litmus test today.

Roon’s workload is very much unlike decoding 4k video. It’s much more like running a DBMS.

The performance of your I/O, memory, and cache subsystems is what most directly impacts user experience. Most NAS’s are architected badly for this. And other music software tracks an order of magnitude fewer objects in their database than we do–which is why UPnP servers are not making the same performance demands.

We are very bursty. Roon is pretty quiet at idle, and then you click something and suddenly we’re performing bursts of a few dozen database queries and trying to give you a response in 50ms or less to get the data on the screen–when faced with latency-sensitive, bursty workloads (the exact opposite of video streaming), single core CPU/cache performance is the most important factor.

Celeron/Atom CPUs have less (sometimes drastically less) cache compared to i5/i7 CPUs. NAS’s tend not to have modern SSDs (meaning 500mb/s read+write and 30/80k IOPS, not a dinky eMMC/DOM or a bank of spinning disks) to house the database.

We don’t intend to stop people from running Roon wherever they want to–but if you choose hardware appropriate to the workload, the experience will be better.