Sorry if this sounds pedantic, but as far as I can tell, @ddean was already running Roon Core on his current machine. As you know, Core may be implemented a number of ways, but the most common is simply running the desktop UI and clicking button below the “Set up a Roon Core on this Computer” message.
This is Roon’s famous “great first run experience”, but, IMHO, it’s the worst way to operate a Roon system long-term. Sound quality may be somewhat compromised vs separating Core from Output, but what’s worse is the tendency for new Roonies to settle-in to this comfortable default installation while failing to explore Roon’s amazing multi-zone/multi-remote functionality.
Unfortunately, our community is not always helpful at getting new Roon users to move past the default install. As you say, most folks suggest assembling a NUC to run ROCK or spending for a Nucleus. These are great solutions, but their relatively high cost in time and/or effort creates a barrier which stops new users from ever moving beyond the default all-in-one installation.
I encourage everyone who finishes their Roon trial to at least go through the exercise of separating Core from Control. This is most easily accomplished by installing Roon Server on an existing computer as I’ve described. They can always “upgrade” to dedicated hardware for Core later by building ROCK from a NUC or buying an appliance like Nucleus, but achieving this separation is the first step to truly understanding Roon’s distributed architecture. That first moment when they exit the desktop UI while music continues to play in all zones is usually when the light bulb goes off. It’s a beautiful thing!
Next step is installing the free Roon Remote app on each family member’s smartphone and tablet. Everyone joins in on the fun and the listening parties begin. Setting up an Output zone in every room usually follows. Roon can be so much fun once folks realize that it’s not just another media player app like Audirvana or JRiver.