What matters most when choosing a new NUC for Roon Rock?

I have been running my roon core from an old macbook pro (i5, 8GB ram) but I need to replace it since the battery has started bulging (turns out it was a bad idea to configure my macbook to run 24/7 with the lid closed). So it’s time to switch to Roon Rock on an NUC.

Looking at NUCs to buy, I am bewildered by the range of options: NUC 10 vs 11 vs 12, i3 vs i5 vs i7. I have about 8,000 albums in my library and want room for it to grow. I have two endpoints and don’t run any DSP.

For the purposes of running Rock, what specs matter the most? I want something I can set and forget for years and that will have snappy performance, but I don’t want to spend a lot of extra money on features that I don’t need for Rock. Thanks!


If is the non sealed type you can remove the battery and run it on mains, did this with my sons old macbook pro.

Go for the latest models as shown in the following page (NUC11), and choose either i3 or i7 according to your library size. Your current library would certainly be fine on an i3. However, if you think you’re likely to exceed 12k albums in a few years, then opt for an i7.

Equally, if you find a deal on an alternative supported model, that will be fine, too. I use a NUC8i3 with a library of 3,700 albums plus modest DSP, and I think this will continue to meet my needs for the foreseeable future (I’ve had it for 3½ years.)

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Thanks, I’ve been using that list to look at prices, etc. Is the processor the most important factor? So all else being equal I should prefer an older NUC with i7 to a newer NUC with i5?

Thanks, I looked at the ifixit teardown guide, and I am a little worried to take apart a laptop with a bulging battery from a safety standpoint.

If you’re not interested in DSP, I would think the most important factor is the amount of RAM. The bigger your library, the more memory you want.

Why not a Mac Mini?

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It’s not quite so simple because single-core speed is the most important thing for Roon, and this varies between generations. In nearly all cases, the newer generation is faster overall, but the 10th gen have lower single core speed than the 8th gen when comparing i3 to i3 or i7 to i7. On the other hand, the 10th uses less power.

However, it’s unlikely that single core speed is your bottleneck unless you play to many zones simultaneously and/or use DSP heavily.

I have a 10i5 and with one zone and only light DSP (volume leveling) it is literally 100x faster than I need. (Roon shows this multiplicator in the signal path info). And absolutely snappy with searching and browsing my 45,000 track / 3000 album library.

If in doubt between an i3, i5, i7, go with the one step faster option, the price difference is not significant if you use it for many years.

More and more processing is moved into the cloud by Roon, so I doubt local requirements will grow much


Yeah, I am considering a mac mini too. I just thought I would give Rock a shot since people seem so happy with how stable it is. I do end up having to manually fiddle with Roon once a week or so on my macbook.

I would strongly recommend a NUC over a mac mini. If it is a newer mac mini then it would run the latest OS and .NET implementations so you’d be ok. But if what you want is set and forget, get an i7 NUC with a 500gb SSD for system and Roon db, 32gb of RAM, and an SSD (which you can install internally if you get the tall NUC version). Frankly mincing on specs given your current usage just to save a few dollahs is not worth it in the long run. As for NUC generation, get something newish (10+) and be done with it.

Also note that given the requirement of Roon 2.0 to be connected to the internet, you might consider installing Roon 1.8 in the NUC instead. If so, you should not get a NUC with a generation newer than 10 (ie don’t get a NUC11 or 12) because you will not be able to install ROCK on it.

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This is totally unnecessary except for a few edge cases (and then the NUC isn’t the correct solution.) The guide is clear for typical usage: either 4 GB or 8 GB, depending on library size.

To keep this simple, since it overcomplicating things doesn’t help, either a NUC11TNHi3 or NUC11TNHi7 with 8 GB RAM will meet the OPs current needs, and a future library of over 12,000 albums and DSP. Likewise, other generations of NUC listed in the guide will perform perfectly fine.

There is little gain beefing up the specification; early NUCs still do the job and don’t need upgrading. So, stick to Roon’s guidance.

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16gb is, I would argue, quite recommended. And given the meager price of RAM, I insist they should get 32gb. If at some point they decide to use that NUC as a Windows or Linux machine instead, you’re already ready to do so.

It is a waste of time to spec this tightly just to save a few dollars.

You may argue as much as you like, but neither 16 GB nor 32 GB are recommended for ROCK.

ROCK For Small to Medium-Sized Libraries

We recommend the NUC11TNHi3 with 4GB RAM and 128GB M.2 SSD for small to medium-sized libraries.

ROCK For Large Libraries (12k+ albums) or DSP Use

We recommend the NUC11TNHi7 with 8GB RAM and 256GB M.2 SSD for large libraries (12k+ albums) or heavy DSP use.

Installing more RAM than is needed is unnecessary. For practical reasons, it may be necessary to acquire a larger SSD and more RAM, but this will not be utilized in the scenarios outlined.

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I’m more curious to know about the i5 vs i7 performance difference since the i7 costs about 25% more. Is i7 going to be a noticeable improvement over the i5 if I have a big library, but a just a couple of endpoints and not much audio processing? It sounds like RAM is more important than the processor for handling the library size?

Lots of good data that can be found on the forums, here’s a sampling. Read thoroughly you’ll find benchmarks. One important thing is to distinguish “audio processing power” (eg, when you’re running multiple zones with DSP simultaneously how much overhead you have, 14.7x vs. 3.2x etc) from “snappiness” (how quickly searches come back, screens render, yadda yadda). My feeling is single-thread performance impacts the first, but not necessarily the second. Despite the below threads I went from a perfectly high scoring 7i5 (meaning that I always had plenty of processing headroom even when using convolution filters in 3 rooms at a time) to a 10i7 and my snappiness (which is what I care about most) went way up. This is not not not my specialty, so just trying to share some more data for you to make heads or tails of as you wish.

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Lots of good advice above.

My experience of building and testing a few ROCKs is that any 7th generation or later i5 or i7 is a pretty powerful machine and will be mostly idle except on initial scanning - and when doing DSD upsampling.

If you’re buying used 7th and 8th generation are very good value - and usually come with more memory and SSD than rock will use. The 8i7 is one of the top performing machines. If you want a fanless case, 8th generation are still around, 7th generation are now hard to find.

If you’re buying new, I’d go with Roon’s current 11th generation recommendations. Fanless cases are in production if you want one.

But these are all great machines for ROCK, which itself is very efficient. You will likely be happy whenever you decide!

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If the rest of your system is revealing then I would look at a AMD based NUC - the faster the better. I found the AMD processor has less digital glare than Intel. I am running Roon Rock on a 7700x PC and very pleased with the results. Surpasses the Roon NUCLEUS+. The newer AMD chips with DDR5 RAM are exceptional. See Aliexpress for interesting options - Mini PC Gamer M600 AMD Rzyen 9 6900HX 8 Core 16 Threads Radeon 680M 2xDDR5 2xPCIe4.0 Dual 2.5G LAN Gaming Computer WiFi6 BT5.2| | - AliExpress.


Breathe in, breathe out…


I would like to ask why not a M1 based MacMini? M1 based MacMini is lower power than NUC and heat-dissipation design is better than NUC. I guess the only one low-light of M1 MacMini is its price …

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$699 for a new Mac Mini. Turnkey. Silent. M1 is more powerful than any i7 you’d find in a NUC. It’s my dedicated Roon Appliance and “it just works” (save for some minor MQA issues when paired with a new SMSL DAC - no MQA issues at all when paired with a Bluesound Node 2i)

The challenge is the RAM. You only get 8GB. I find that’s plenty but power users will want more. That’s another $200 and, of course, you have to add it at purchase.

Even then, $899 isn’t outrageous by current NUC build standards.