Intel NUC 7th Gen i7 (7i7BNH) with 8GB RAM and 250GB Samsung Evo 960 PCIe M.2 drive.
Initially used ROCK (free Linux from Roon) OS.
Added 4TB Samsung Evo 860 SATA SSD to store music locally.
Added Keces P8 Linear PSU to power NUC (19v / 3.43A).
Transplanted NUC into Akasa Plato X7 fanless case.
Bought Euphony OS (another Linux distro focussed on the Hi-Fi sector) to replace ROCK.
Although I’ve always found good quality linear PSUs to provide a significant upgrade in my Hi-Fi life (Squeezebox, Chord 2Qute, Aurender X100L) the real “key to the door” here was the UpTone Audio ISO REGEN. I connect my DAC (PS Audio DirectStream Senior) direct to my NUC, I don’t use RAAT over Ethernet. I think because ultimately the NUC is a generic mini PC device the USB output is noisy even when the whole system is fed with a Linear PSU. Adding the ISO REGEN was a real night and day “wow” moment. Output then goes into a Matrix Audio X-SPDIF 2 which converts USB to I2S over HDMI. Using the I2S input of the DirectStream DAC makes a big difference in overall quality.
You would think that the protocol conversion done by the Matrix inherently reclocks and galvanically isolates the USB input but the whole chain still sounds better with the REGEN in it. In fact NUC USB -> ISO REGEN -> DirectStream USB input sounds better than NUC USB -> Matrix -> DirectStream I2S input. However NUC USB -> ISO REGEN -> Matrix -> DirectStream I2S input is best overall albeit a bit of a box and cable fest.
I have found direct attaching my DAC via USB much better than using Ethernet although I do have a Bridge II card inside the PS Audio DirectStream DAC. Although many advocate the transformer based isolation that Ethernet uses there (to me) doesn’t seem to be the same level of detail or dynamics.