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Fanless Intel 8th Gen NUC alternative for Audiolinux Headless

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Given the known BIOS limitations of NUCs in relation to Audiolinux as well as the requisite CPU fan, I decided to look for an alternative a few months ago and came across a fanless alternative - the Kingdel NC860. The BIOS is American Megatrends core version 5.12 (UEFI v2.6, build date Jul 2018) and it utilizes a 15W TDP, quad-core Intel i7-8550U CPU. More CPU details here: https://ark.intel.com/products/122589/Intel-Core-i7-8550U-Processor-8M-Cache-up-to-4-00-GHz. It's been rock solid running Audiolinux Headless (currently at v0.5 in my system), Roon Server, and HQPlayer Embedded in ramroot and has no problems with poly-sinc-xtr-mp-2s at DSD256. Turbo Boost and Hyperthreading are both disabled for a relatively small SQ improvement. It also ran Roon ROCK with no problems when I briefly tested it but it's not officially supported by Roon. The Kingdel does choke on non-2s oversampling at DSD256, which is as high as my DAC goes. It also takes a 12V power supply and a wall wart is included - I think 36W but I forget. (My Uptone JS-2 provides way more wattage than the Kingdel needs.)


The main rub in my opinion is availability (although I suppose that support could potentially be an issue as well). You can find it at Amazon but the only ones I've seen as of Dec 2018 require the inclusion of RAM, storage, and a Windows 10 Pro license. I reached out to the seller about buying a bare-bones version (no RAM, storage, or OS) but he declined. I did find a bare-bones version for about $340 with free shipping to the US through AliExpress.com. DHL delivered it from China in about ten days. I was a little nervous about the transaction but knew I could always get credited by Visa in the event of a worst-case scenario; AliExpress also has Buyer Protection.


So to recap, the fanless Kingdel NC860 runs a low-power 8th Generation Intel i7 CPU with a more flexible BIOS than the one used with NUCs. It has no problems with the Audiolinux Headless/Roon/HQPe combination and I've had very positive experiences at DSD256 native and upsampled. Despite the caveats I previously mentioned, I think the Kingdel NC860 is well worth it.

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