Roon Rock: Is it worth it?

I’ve come to acquire a Intel NUC that is compatible with Roon Rock.

I’m in two minds about it’s use, though. The first option is to install Rock, hide it away and let it run. The other option is run it as a Windows PC with Roon installed and keep it chugging along being used as the Core. The advantage of this is the dual use as I can still run it as a PC.

I do use Roon a lot both on my home system and their ARC app while on the move. My systems are Nova, Fiio Music Player, a xDuoo TA-30 for at home headphone listening, and a Muzishare X7 running from a Bluesound Node for streaming as a secondary system.

What I can’t work out is if having it as a Rock is worthwhile. I’ve looked online and I’m having trouble finding out its advantages. Or maybe I’m just over thinking this.

If others have a Rock do they see an advantage in having this sort of setup and what are its benefits?

“hide it away and let it run” sums it up nicely. I have one and that is what it does. If you use Roon a lot I suspect you will get a better user experience running ROCK (faster response, searches, etc) than if you rely on a Windows machine that is also being used for other purposes. And particularly if you use Roon to unpack MQA and/or use Roon DSP.

Use it as a Roon Rock if you did not get an overspecified NUC. Despite its appearance Roon needs quite a lot of resources and i am quite sure that you will get a better experience on a ROCK than on a Windows PC. Also, if you want to use ARC for mobile playback, better to have a device you simply use as a server and not as a desktop pc, which you might not want to keep turn on the whole time.

If you ask @JosquinDesPrez , Roon rock is the best way to have Roon. Some do it themselves. Other buy Roon Nucleus.

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I have the current recommended intel l7 rock and it’s great far better than using my previous Mac Mini - I just leave it on and forget about it - marvellous and doesn’t use that much electricity. I’d recommend using this method every time and it frees up your computer for other tasks


Optimally you’d have a dedicated Nucleus device, a NUC is the next best thing running ROCK, followed by ROON Server just running in a regular Windows install.
Unless you have a lot of demands on the Roon server with a very large library or a lot of DSP overheads you’ll likely not notice a measurable difference between the different setup scenarios.
I run my core on a 10 year old Mac Mini Server with a 15k album library. I run it headless and it’s not used for anything other than Roon.

yes, I’ll just add here what I said elsewhere…

Detailed step-by-step instructions for building a ROCK server on an INtel NUC are on the Roon website. That’s what I used and it took me about an hour do do everythging from sitting with parts to standing up a working Roon server. Then I copied about 500 Gbs of audio files overnight (that’s all I have).


One of the most significant practical benefits is not having to worry about Windows updates, with ROCK you will simply be prompted to upgrade whenever a new firmware and/or software update becomes available. I’ve been running ROCK on an i5 based NUC for a couple years and it is as solid as it can be. Take a look at the Akasa fanless cases, they also support an additional SSD for NAS functionality, excellent products.

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I’m technically lazy at home, so after initially trialling Roon, I bought a Nucleus. Took 15 mins to install an SSD to hold my music and that was it. Running cool and silent for the last 4 years.

As others mention, you can build one a lot cheaper if you so wish.

Roon rock with fanless case is a cheap skates Nucleus and I’m one of those😀.
Did run Roon on Windows HTPC previously and was relatively slow operating and not as powerful in processing if running DSP is your thing.

This is also my experience: it just does its thing and all you do is click to restart every now and then when an update has been prepared.

I’ve got a fairly minimal spec i3 NUC (7th gen iirc) with 8GB, an old 128GB PCIE SSD for the OS and a spinning 500GB SATA for local storage. It’s located downstairs and connected by Ethernet. Performance is fine, searches reasonably quick and snappy. I almost exclusively play from Tidal (no MQA, no unfolding) to a single zone. I don’t do any DSP whatsoever.

When I’m at our other place, I move the server to a late 2012 Mac mini, i5 with 16GB, 512GB SSD system disk and 2TB SATA data disk. It is equally responsive and effective as far as I can tell… although it’s mainly a media server so it isn’t doing much of anything else while listening (maybe light web surfing or document editing).

Ages ago, I also had Roon server running in a Docker container on a mid-spec Synology DIskStation NAS (upgraded with 16GB RAM and PCIE SSD read and write cache, which made a noticeable difference)… that worked fine, was a bit sluggish and was a bit of an adventure to upgrade. I did that mainly to learn how to do it, and since I never had the (i7 late 2012 fully tricked) Mac mini working properly on wake-on-lan for Roon interaction… probably a weakness on my skills and enthusiasm more than a fundamental obstacle.

My impression is that, performance wise, YMMV depending on what you’re asking of your system and of Roon. But as an appliance, ROCK is definitely the way to go for set-and-forget operation and upgrade.

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Me too. I just couldn’t see buying a Nucleus+ for $2500 plus cost of a [not included] SSD for audio files. I built something just as good for $700, including a 1 TB SSD. It does have a fan, but I just have it hidden away, and the fan runs rarely anyway. For another $100-150 I could migrate it all to a fanless case but that’s more fuss than I think it’s worth.

Rock all the way it takes minutes to set it up and it just works.

Rock can be a real pain if you have a USB DAC, I ended up with a Windows 10 (AME edition) with Roon installed to use with my USB DAC.

Thanks everyone. It seems the overwhelming advice is to set it up as a ROCK which I think I’ll do. I’ll feed back how it went (when I actually get a chance to do the whole set up). Just looked it up on Roon’s website and doesn’t seem too bad and instal to me.

Again, thanks for excellent advice.

The fan in a NUC needs to be cleaned periodically or you run the risk of it getting clogged, as there is barely any space for air to flow and the dust just sticks to the fan blades. Then to clean it up you need to disassemble the whole thing which is not that easy to do. The fanless case in turn takes all that fuss away, along with all the electrical noise the fan produces.

I’ve been running my NUC 24/7/365 since building it several years ago. It has hardly any dust inside and it’s not showing any signs of diminished fan capacity. The fan hardly ever runs, mostly because I never add any files for it to index. I primarily use Qobuz. I think I’ll still save myself the money and fuss of a fanless case. :slight_smile:

The dust doesn’t accumulate inside the main compartment but on the fan itself which rides on top of the processor and hidden from view. To see that you would need to pry off the motherboard which is a rather delicate operation. It’s good you’re not having any issues, but for the OPs benefit I believe it should be mentioned that NUCs are notorious for restricted air flow due to the way the cooling system is designed.

Fair enough. I’ve just never had issues with it. I suppose at the point the fan fails, then I can either replace it for $12 and a bit of labor, or spring for the fanless case for 10x as much and more labor. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

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Not really not a single issue. The problems are not Rocks they are the poor Linux support on certain dacs and non standard usb audio implementations.

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