Roon Server on low power CPU + ASRock Deskmini 110

Didn’t even know about Roon until very recently – just signed up for the trial. So far I’m liking what I see.

I have a small library consisting of 300 albums (ripped from CD to .wav files & cataloged with bliss) and about 4500 loosey goosey MP3 files.

Music will be streamed to my LS50W speakers (end-point) over the LAN.

I am looking at building a low power usage system based on the ASRock Deskmini 110, 16GB rammage, 128GB NVME drive for Linux OS + Roon Server, and a 1TB 2.5" SSD (internal) for music storage. However, I’m not sure about the processor and cooling.

Would any of the below chips work plenty good for me? I’m thinking the i3-7700T but I don’t see it for sale anywhere.

Also, can someone suggest a heatsink that would do the trick?

Personally I would suggest you go the Intel NUC7i3 and ROCK. should be fine with your small library and is easy to setup. Files could reside on external USB or internal SATA drive on the NUC…ROCK would boot of an NVMe SSD in the NUC

An i3 will be sufficient for your needs. However gen 6 and 7 chips are thin on the ground in some places. You’d be better getting the newer Deskmini 310 which takes the later generation chips. 8gb is more than enough memory and if you one this only to run Roon consider Roon OS (ROCK) which will make the device a dedicated Roon appliance. A NUC is also a great idea but if you wanted to do more you would need to replace the whole device where as the Deskmini would just need a bios update and a faster chip.

Thanks for the info @Henry_McLeod and @wizardofoz.

I’m not up to date with current CPU architectures & performance, but I noticed there are NUC’s that have i3, i5, and i7 CPU’s that share the same TDP. How is this possible? Why would I choose an i3 if the i7 uses the same power? Or, am I totally missing something here?

Also, are there any advantages of using two internal drives – one for the OS and one for music) instead of just putting everything on one drive?

Lastly, I see on these forums that many people use linear power supplies to reduce noise. Is this necessary if the NUC is streaming to my LS50’s via the network (wired or wireless)?

You can control TDP by employing fewer cores and clocking the device to keep processor TDP down. So a NUC processor can be manipulated to remain within the ability of its cooling hardware to do its job. When you produce desktop processors you free yourself of those constraints. That is the potential benefit of going with a Deskmini. Although it has to be said that Roon will argue that a gen 8 NUC will do everything you might ever need it to do in Roon.

I am happily using the following:

  • ASRock Deskmini 310
  • Pentium G5600

It works like a breeze and converts DSD256 to DSD128 (about the most challenging conversion task) at 2x realtime.
The current ROCK has all the drivers, incl the i219 NIC.

Depends on what you are after:

  • Cheapest with grunt: Deskmini 310 with G5600 (Geekbench Single Core=4503)
  • Most quiet: NUC8i3BEK (Geekbench Single Core=4027)
  • Most powerful: Deskmini 110 with i3-7350k (Geekbench Singe Core=5662)

Happy choosing.

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Sorry, I didn’t realize that you are specifically looking for 35W TPD CPUs.
For Roon best get the 2 core i3 with the highest clock frequency, so that would be i3-7300T with a Single Core Geekbench score of around 4300.
More than two cores don’t really bring a lot to the Roon Core Server party.

Yeah, 35W or even lower if that’s possible because I’m living off-grid at the moment & need to minimize the hit on our batteries considering the machine will be on 24/7.

That is very well possible. In my second setup I am using a NUC7PJYH with a TPD of 10W. The NUC7PJYH uses a Pentium J5005 and has a Single Core Geekbench score of 2127. It just manages the DSD256 to DSD128 conversion at 1.2x realtime (which works reliably for me). For basic Roon Core Server duty it should have plenty of power. I have not had any problems with it.
It does NOT run ROCK, as ROCK does not (yet? @danny ) support UEFI boot. You put dietpi on it and then add Roon Bridge from dietpi’s list of optimized software.
Roon Bridge updates itself automatically through the Roon user interface. Dietpi needs to be updated (once in a blue moon is enough) by SSHing into the device. From there its one click.
Hope this helps.

If you can get ROCK on the very latest i3/5/7 models then why not on their Celeron or Pentium models?

I think it’s because you can’t switch the BIOS into legacy mode on the Celeron and Pentium models, and ROCK needs legacy mode to install…


I hope my request gets considered.

If you have to get the lowest power consumption then i3 nuc is by far the best solution for you.
Atom style celeron and pentium have significantly less performance but use equal or more battery depending on scenario. Desktop chips with Deskmini can have low idle, but they will hit your batteries harder if you actually stress them a lot, and generally using desktop chips is not a good idea with batteries.
If you wonder about i3 and i7 having the same tdp, you should know that tdp has been intended as manufacturer guidance for thermal design power with regard to cooling system. Some review argued that a recent 54w dual Core coffee Lake chip consumed less than 20w on load, and with special loads 35w i5 or i7 coffee lake chips have proven to consume as much as 120w.

Regarding uefi problems with booting legacy systems like rock, you could install refind on some usb stick, configure it on first boot after rock install and be done with your boot problems as long as that refind stick remains connected.