I know the question has probably been asked before. Heck, I might’ve asked it myself.
I’m trying to decide whether to replace a modded Mac Mini with a Nucleus+, and whether the difference would be worth the expense?
It should be noted: The Mac Mini has a Mojo Audio Joule V LPS instead of the SMPS. The Mac Mini has been moved to another room, far away from the stereo stack, using ethernet over a mesh network. The Mini’s software has been stripped to the bare minimum, and no other work is done on the Mini except for Roon Core. So, in terms of distance and isolation, it’s pretty much segregated from the hifi stack.
The Mac Mini has NEVER given me any issues on database, updates, and the like. It’s pretty darned reliable. Also, I run an etherRegen unit, an ultraRendu for streaming, and a Matrix X-SPDIF converter at the stack before going to a DirectStream DAC.
It comes down to the question: Would replacing the modded-Mini with a Nucleus+ provide a demonstrable improvement, or am I better off leaving well-enough alone?
If you did fancy a bespoke ROCK server at any point then there are cheaper ways of doing it than a Nucleus anyway (ok strictly a Nucleus runs RoonOS but they are fundamentally the same).
A decent NUC, or if you want to roll your own MOCK server, can be had for well under £500. I went this route not to chance SQ but simply because a dedicated sever that merely sips power seemed a sensible way forward.
But, as others have said if you’re happy running the mini then there’s no particularly compelling reason to change.
HQP has lifted my system that last bit so that, bar a couple of bits of kit I have lined up (but not to do with the digital front end), I now consider it finished. It’s better than I ever imagined it would be.
However I would not consider running Roon Core and HQP on the same machine and consider them separate entities. So, I would always recommend running ROCK on a nice lightweight mini pc and HQP on something with a bit of poke.
By way of example my ROCK (well strictly MOCK) machine is a Ryzen 3 3200G with 8gb and relies on the inbuilt Vega graphics APU for when I need to connect a monitor. Does the job perfectly and uses very little power and can be left on 24/7.
My HQP machine by comparison is my workstation now running a Ryzen 7 3700X, 32gb of RAM and an nVidia GTX1080 ti.
I don’t run HQP and you would need to determine what level of settings in HQP that you are striving for…the high you go the more powerful system you need. @jussi_laako Jussi might be the best one to ask here and there is a dedicated #audio-products:hq-player thread you can post in.