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I've been fooling around with turning Intel NUC PCs into Network Audio Adapters (NAA) for HQPlayer, and thought I would share some of the experiences: NUC #1 NUC5PPYH (in Akasa Newton P fanless chassis) 4GB DDR3L-1600 RAM 256GB Samsung 850 Pro 2.5" SATA SSD Windows Server 2012 R2 OS Microsoft Visual C++ 2015 redistributable 64-bit runtime ASIO4ALL 2.14 Windows networkaudiod 3.5.1 NUC #2 NUC6CAYS 4GB DDR3L-1866 RAM 32GB built-in eMMC flash Windows Server 2016 OS Microsoft Visual C++ 2015 redistributable 64-bit runtime ASIO4ALL 2.14 Windows networkaudiod 3.5.1 I wanted both the HW and SW configurations of the NUCs to be minimal. For the HW, I removed the pre-installed Intel WiFi/Bluetooth module from the M.2 2230 slot on the motherboard, since I plan to stream audio only over Ethernet. For OS I chose Windows Server over Windows 10 for far fewer processes launched by default. For Windows Server 2016, I uninstalled Windows Defender. The Print Spooler service was also manually disabled. Appropriate device drivers for graphics, chipset, etc. were installed, leaving no yellow bang devices in Device Manager. For the NUC5PPYH running Windows Server 2012 R2, I left the graphics driver as "Microsoft Basic Display Adapter". For the NUC6CAYS running Windows Server 2016, I could not stop OS from downloading and installing an Intel HD Graphics driver, but I manually disabled the services associated with this driver, leaving just the bare device driver running. Both NUCs were configured with Windows autologin enabled, and networkaudiod launched via the startup group. These settings enable the NUCs to be configured as "headless" (i.e. no display, keyboard or mouse attached) and thus appliance like and work within 30 seconds or so from power-on. Remote Desktop was enabled to allow remote management to be done by GUI on another Windows PC (e.g. the PC running HQPlayer). So far I have only tested these NAAs with a set of KEF X300A powered speakers with USB input. Since KEF does not have an ASIO driver for the X300A, I had to use ASIO4ALL to allow HQPlayer to see the NAA over the network. A more typical setup with the NAA driving a DAC would involve installing the DAC's Windows driver into the NAA. The NUC6CAYS came with Windows 10 Home (RS1) OS pre-installed into the internal 32GB eMMC flash. For those interested in using this NUC as NAA, the NUC6CAYH model is substantially cheaper as it has no internal eMMC flash and no pre-installed Windows OS. A 2.5" SSD or HDD would be used as OS drive. 32GB is minimum for Windows Server 2012 R2 / 2016. 60GB is minimum for Windows 10. I bought the NUC6CAYS to check out the pre-installed Windows 10 Home OS, but since it didn't behave satisfactorily I wiped the eMMC disk and did a clean install of Windows Server 2016 OS. Even Windows Server 2016 Essentials OS is more than enough for NAA, but since I have a product key for Windows Server 2016 Standard, this is the OS I ended up using. One caveat: Since neither Intel nor Microsoft support NUC6CAYS/NUC6CAYH running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, installing Windows Server 2012 R2 *may* be problematic as well. This is one of the reasons I chose Windows Server 2016, since it is the server parallel of Windows 10, and I was able to install Win10 device drivers for NUC6CAYS against WS2016 with no special tricks involved. Here are some AC power consumption figures for these two NUCs working as NAAs in headless mode (measured with a Wattsup? PRO meter). The only cable connections are gigabit Ethernet (to home network), USB (to DAC) and DC +19V power in (from AC adapter). I installed all available updates from Windows Update, rebooted and waited for OS housekeeping activities to quiet down before taking the power measurements. Power supply was the 65W AC adapter that shipped with the NUCs. NUC5PPYH: OS idle: 3.5W Streaming 24/88.2K PCM: 4.1W NUC6CAYS: OS idle: 2.8W Streaming 24/88.2K PCM: 3.3W I also dual-booted the NUC5PPYH into Snake-oil OS but got an idle power consumption of 6.1W. Not connecting a display helps reduce the NUC idle power by about 0.5W. Not connecting USB keyboard or mouse means the USB DAC becomes the only connected USB device, after the WiFi/Bluetooth module got removed (the Bluetooth portion is a USB device). The USB DAC can be plugged into any of the external USB ports, and the DAC gets the whole USB bus to itself, so to speak. Overall, I'm quite impressed by these low power consumption figures, considering both NUCs feature quad core CPUs of 6W and 10W TDP respectively. I'm quite sure even lower power figures can be achieved with a motherboard featuring certain Intel Atom processors, but the quad core Pentium and Celeron processors in the NUC5PPYH and NUC6CAYS respectively have decent performance with affordable prices and fully support 64-bit OS, so I have not bothered to push lower. Further OS optimizations are possible by running Audiophile Optimizer, Process Lasso, etc. along with HW tweaks such as UpTone Audio ISO REGEN, LPS-1, Ethernet isolator, etc. but these will have to wait for another day.
Hey Guys - I should be receiving this tiny 4"x4" computer Friday. It won't be a C.A.P.S. server just yet because there are a few things that need to be figured out, mainly a fanless design. But, this thing could be very cool for many music server purposes in the future. It's powerful and tiny. The version I'm getting had wired Ethernet. There is another version with wireless and in place of the Ethernet port is a Thunderbolt port. Introducing Intel's Next Unit of Computing Kit DC3217IYE