Speed of internal vs. external SSD for ROCK - and effect on browsing latency


I know there have been many many threads on the difference between internal and external SSDs for a ROCK running on a NUC. But I have a question on whether internal will have faster / lower latency data transfer speeds and whether that will manifest in faster searches?

I get / believe the following:

  • Internal can’t add subfolders but just monitors the whole shebang whereas external can (got it)
  • Internal is less simple to repurpose or deal with hardware failure (sure, per KB)
  • No reason to believe that there could be any SQ difference, unless I’m running the core as an endpiont - but that’s also a topic I try to steer clear of

So assuming that I’m indifferent between opening up my NUC and plugging in a USB drive, and that I’m monitoring a single monolithic library, the quesion is simply: will I / might I / should I / could I perceive any difference in the usability of the Roon interface due to the hardware implementation of the SSD via internal SATA vs. USB?

It’s been forever since i looked into hardware data transfer rates and how different DBs are sensitive to latency, and I’m not sure about the particular DB implementation etc. But if there’s even a few ms of speed advantage to internal, I’d go that way in a flat second (no pun intended).


The Roon DB resides on a separate SSD, separate from the music (watched folder) that means, together with the OS and the Roon software - on a ROCK typically a M.2 SSD.

What ever you chose for the music, internal or external via USB, should be fast enough - especially if you use a SSD. It should not affect your browsing speed/latency.

Durh. I mean thank you.

So, to clarify, the ROCK shouldn’t have to hit the music storage no matter where it is until playback has started. All latency should be related to traffic between remote <> ROCK and between ROCK <> endpoint.

If that’s the case, how come people suggest that local USB beats NAS? Because the difference in file ops between ROCK direct connection of any kind and ROCK<>NAS via SMB is so great that you can get latency for playback even if most operations are taking place directly on the library DB on the ROCK?

Because monitoring changes to the filesystem is more reliable via USB is one reason. NAS’s spinning drives down is another. It’s also lower complexity, so less of a pain to troubleshoot if the user doesn’t quite know what they’re doing.

Add to that the value of redundancy when it comes to libraries, factor in the cost of storage at typical library sizes (so around 100 US), and you’ll probably agree that recommending most people use local storage rather than NAS’s makes quite a bit of sense.

In my experience a SATA SSD that is internally connected to the on-board SATA controller on the motherboard will be faster and exhibit lower latency than an externally USB connected SSD. Many of the external USB to SATA interfaces aren’t particularly fast. I’ve tried quite a few and the continuous data transfer rates on large files have been much slower than with an internal drive.

Thanks, and that makes perfect sense for things like larger file transfers. I’m wondering really whether it makes any real world difference to Roon daily use… sounds like opinions are that it would not. Does anyone have experience trying this?

NAS v local ? Yeah, makes a difference in daily use for all the reasons above.

USB v SATA ? Haven’t tried it, but as long as we’re talking only the music files, as it should be since you’d be hosting your library on an NVMe, I’d be surprised.

I have had both external usb HDD and usb ssd drives attached for years and they both work just fine. The only difference can be if the external USB HDD is set to spin down, then the first track might take a couple of extra seconds to start, but, after that no issue.

For, WD external USB HDD there is a utility that can be installed on a PC that will allow you to adjust the spin down behavior, but, I have no issue waiting the extra couple of seconds on the first track, since I may go days between music listening sessions using the NUC core.