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

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.


Another happy BRIX owner here, with a Core i5 & 16GB of RAM running Windows 10 on a small (80GB) SSD. Totally quiet and very small power footprint as well. Mine runs wired, so no comments about Wi-Fi performance, although it is reported to be spotty by others.

I’ve been toying with the idea of putting a large SSD in the BRIX for local storage of my music files. It will handle both an M2 SSD and a 2.5" form factor simultaneously. My Roon performance has been excellent on this box, with my music on a QNAP TS-251 network attached storage. Currently my database of digital music is about 3,000 albums, although I have another 2,000 or so analog LP’s – classical music – that are mostly not available in digital form.

The only small gotcha on the BRIX is the need to attach an HDMI emulator to run it headless. I got a 4k emulator, which makes the Remote Desktop connection prettier/higher resolution.

I greatly appreciate the ability to keep computers out of my music room. Currently using a Squeezebox Transporter, which of course is a computer, but a specialized one. In another room I have a Squeezebox Touch connected to a headphone amp. The Roon experience with the Touch is a bit better in terms of the front panel interface.

Anyway, I recommend the BRIX Pro Core i5 based on my experience so far.

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Running i3 NUC, with 8GB RAM, Windows 10 64-bit, AC wireless connection (just moved in - will install ethernet), to crappy Synology NAS (211j, connected via ethernet). 40K tracks. No problems at all on main rig. Streaming wirelessly from NUC to Squeezebox Touch in basement home theater has problems playing files of greater resolution than 24-bit/96kHz (my guess is that the wireless connection is the problem there). Headless NUC, but Roon installed normally (with GUI, I mean).

I’ve never seen the Squeezebox Touch handle 176.4/192k over WiFi here either, even with <10ft line of sight to a top-end router. With an ethernet cable, it’s fine.

When I looked at it, my analysis pointed to the WiFi infrastructure in the SBT as the bottleneck. They just didn’t engineer the device to handle those data rates.

LMS streams to the SBT using FLAC, we stream PCM. It’s a side effect of how our respective audio systems work. PCM is a little bit heavier on the wire (but lighter on the CPU on both ends). It’s a tradeoff either way, but it might be working against you with a configuration like that.

That brings up another issue. The Enhanced Digital Output plugin for the Touch, as I recall, requires that the Touch be fed a FLAC stream. It sounds like you guys got around that. After the EDO plugin was first issued, the developers were supposed to later make it so you could feed a PCM stream, but I never saw it get to that point. I would have pointed to that limitation as the explanation for the Touch’s inability to play above 96kHz (in my current wireless setup), had you not mentioned that Roon feeds the Touch a PCM stream.

Anyway, thank you for supporting Squeezebox devices! I thought I was going to have to abandon the Touch when I adopted Roon, and that I was going to have to build another PC to stream Roon to the home theater. Double bonus!!!

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I just received a nice offer for a NUC with 16GB DDR3 RAM and with a decent 320 Intel SSD. However, it is powered by an Intel Rock Canyon Core i3-5010U running at 2.1ghz CPU.

Will this setup suffice for a decent/good headless roon experience with 15k tracks? or will there be performance issues, also with regard to high res/ DSD content?

I’m running an i3 NUC (NUC5i3RYK) with 8GB of ram, with 40K tracks stored on NAS. I experience no problems, unless a weird shuffle-all-tracks problem I described in the Support forum counts (keeps favoring the same albums and tracks, especially when I skip through a lot of songs in a row). And the NUC is even connected via WiFi…

However, I have been reading about that HQPlayer software that upsamples and converts your tracks on the fly to DSD or other hi-rez, and it seems that the level of resolution available to the system is limited by the processing power of the PC. If you want to go in that direction, you might consider a stronger CPU.

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Stupid question, but how do you hook up your NUC to your external DAC? I notice they mostly come with USB, HDMI and Display.


You can hook up to a USB DAC directly or via an Ethernet device running Roon Bridge ( microRendu, SOSE, Raspberry Pi, Cubox etc).

We are talking at “Dummies” level here: Do you mean a USB cable from a NUC socket to the USB input on the DAC? No refinements, no extra bits, just a straightforward USB cable between the two units?

Yes, you can do that.

Thanks very much. That’s the last piece of the jigsaw. I’m going to do a
NUC6i5SYH with 8GB RAM
2.5 inch internal 2TB HDD
External DVD/CD writer
McIntosh C50 preamp
McIntosh MC402 power
Wilson Benesch ACT speakers
Elo touchscreen.

There was a time when getting good music involved only the simple use of over-priced consumer devices. All this talk of NUCs and SSDs and Roon bridges etc. just makes it a completely different ball game. If my solution above works, that will be it for life. Don’t care what new enhancements they do on Roon, its fantastic enough for me already!

Thinking about a QNAP HS-453DX with 8 RAM, with m.2 SSD to run Roon Core / Cache. Would that be fine?