If you had to pick a laptop or mini-PC, which one?

I've been using an old Lenovo laptop as my server/streamer and continue to have issues getting it to work correctly.  So, I'm thinking of replacing it with something more updated.  

Considering another laptop or a min-PC.  Any opinions on good ones to look at?  I don't really care about the cost because I doubt it could be more than some of the music server/streamers that are out now.  

I posted on your other thread, but I think you are going about this the wrong way.
You are having strange drop outs? Right.
Have you tried to use the optical output on the Ayre Codex?
You might just have a wonky cable.
Sure your old Lenovo might be the cause, but, in my experience, if you have freshly reinstalled Windows and the problem still occurs, then there must be something amiss.
I use Win 10 to stream Qobuz and Spotify with an Ayre Codex, as well.
I haven't had the issues you have described (thankfully).
Have you tried rebooting your router?
Sometimes it is the silliest thing that causes all the problems.
You didn’t say what kind of issues with your laptop. I am just wondering why not pursue a dedicated audio server / streamer? I am assuming you already own a decent DAC?

Bluesound Node 2i should sound equally good if not better than a laptop as long as it’s connected to a decent DAC.
@gdnrbob -
>I'll try changing the USB cable. 
>No problems with optical but optical isn't coming from the laptop. No optical out to test on the laptop.
>Don't think it's a router issue because it happens when I play local files.  

I'm going to try going back to Windows 8.1.  This is an old computer and it might be having issues with Win10 (I hope that's it!).

- I had the Node 2i.  Liked it but I like being able to play just about any service and Deezer functionality was limited on the Node 2i (no thumbs up/down).
- Just about every streamer I look at is missing something I want (like a service, Deezer especially).

@erik_squires - I like the idea of a Linux system but I'm not a fan of Roon.  If it could play all of the other services including Audirvana and Deezer, I'd be on board for that. 
For the money and hardware flexibility Roon is hard to beet.

Still, a single board computer (SBC) is what I would do if I didn’t want to pay full price for a "high end" streamer.

Whichever direction  you go, I suggest a small appliacne with iPhone/Android control is the way to go.

@erik_squires - I was using a Raspberry Pi 4 for a while but I couldn't do Deezer or Amazon HD without using Squeezebox and that just didn't look ideal.  
Could be a lot more than some of the streamers available now and WILL sound a lot worse. The only thing audio they are good for is setting up playlists on streaming apps. A $450 streamer will blow away computer sound.
If a windows laptop does everything you want now I would look at a new laptop. No need to spend a lot if all you do is use it for streaming. You could even get a refurbished Dell desktops on Amazon around $250 including Windows 10.
@djones51 - Yep. That makes sense.  If I can't get it to behave with Win8 that's what I'm going to do.  Bummer that laptops don't have SPDIF or Toslink outs.... :-) 

@fuzztone - I'm not sure a streamer will "blow away" any computer sound.  Where's the evidence of that? I didn't notice any difference with the Node 2i.  
I use a NUC. It's convenient but you really need some offboard hardware to handle the Digital side. I use an MF DAC and am ok with the sound. I use my Oppo to play the movies through which also sounds good. Streamers are great but I like the NUCs versatility and am still not convinced that Its time to jump in on one.
I also have a Intel Nuc.

2 ssd hard drives it runs Plex for just my music right now but also does movies.

Connected to my pre by Hdmi. I was recently told about a linear power supply I can get for it that would further improve sound quality, I am considering it but I think it sounds pretty good right now.

I also have an Oppo I can play music from the Nuc with using DLNA. I have the option of playing from my pre off the Nuc using DLNA as well but being able to use Plex, browse and play music on a 75" tv is tough to beat.
Do you think an i3 with only 8GB of ram is enough? Also, I have about 100GB of FLACs.  I could connect an external drive but that would take away one of the few USB ports.  Hmmm.
Yikes, a castrated CPU...

With a ssd and 16G of memory? Maybe? I wouldn't personally just not enough horse power for my preference and with the cost of CPUs not really worth it.

I would keep all your music on an internal drive or at least a NAS that connects via ethernet. All my flac are on a internal ssd drive in a Intel Nuc I prefer not to use usb.
The I mobile CPU is built on 10nm tech the U on 14nm. The U has better graphics and few other things that are not relevant to what you’re doing. There isn’t that much difference for what you want to do which is stream music you can do that with a celeron. For 100GB of music I wouldn’t waste money on a NAS. I keep more than that on a flash drive. You don’t need 16GB of ram I run a NUC with 8GB and do DSP conversion. All you said you wanted to do is stream music go whichever way you want but simple streaming isn’t taxing a computer.
@djones51 - That SanDisk card is sweet! An excellent solution. I assume the throughput would be adequate...

I see there's a 14" model too. This might just be the ticket!

Cheaper than a dedicated streamer and able to do more.  The only downside is having to use Voicemeeter Banana to avoid the Windows Audio Mixer when using apps like Deezer than can't use Wasapi.  

I use a flash drive connected by USB I never have had any problems. I imagine the card reader is connected to internal USB bus or PCIe.
Doing more research and I'm reading some people saying that laptop sound can't compete with a dedicated streamer/network player.  I don't understand how this could be - they're all computers, right?  
NUC is a computer, streamers are basically computers optimized for one purpose so it won't have as many processes running the CPU is usually ARM based, less noise which might be noticeable. I use a NUC and I never noticed the sound being worse than a Node2i with external DAC or an integrated amp I had with streaming built in. 
Never noticed any problems. Just wanted confirmation I’m not missing something.

What do you use to avoid Windows audio mixer?
You wanted functionality with a myriad of streaming services, I just use Quboz and local stored files. Linux on the box  and control apps on my tablet suit me. 
I just ordered the Dell Inspiron 5000.  $600.  Thanks for the help!

Now looking for a USB reclocker to add to it.  

Also considering Audiophile Optimizer and Fidelizer.  
What DAC do you use,  most newer ones with asynchronous USB already reclock. 
Ayre Codex.

I was thinking of the  UpTone Audio ISO REGEN because it does a few things. 

I went from a Lenovo Flex <something> to the latest HP Spectre x360 and thought the USB-to-DAC sounded more open with expanded soundstage.  Cost me $1400, but nice machine and still cheaper than something like a Lumin U1 Mini.  But I haven't compared the HP to any streamer.

I like the the user interface and flexiblity of running the HP remote from an Android laptop, but you'll  need to buy Windows Pro to get Remote Desktop to work.   It's surprisingly easy to do remote.
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I always use external storage as I'm not sure if I lose sound quality or not with the USB cable. I always allow for extra storage as new items come into my collection and I continue ripping my cd collection.As a rule of thumb If you have 1 Terabyte at the moment I would buy 2 Terabytes of external storage as a minimum. I also have a 2nd copy of everything I rip or store just incase 1 fails I have a backup. I use a NAS Raid system .plugged into my NUC.

Almost sound like your in IT... we have a common phrase; backup, backup, backup and; Did you backup today? Did you?
All my media is on a second drive then I backup to a second pc then to a external via bat file, bada bing bada boom. People may say its excessive but that first time you lose everything... even if you still have it on CD your looking at weeks, months to rip it all again.

Yes storage always double what you currently need, at least.

I would be curious to know about any lose of sound quality over usb, is your Nuc connected by hdmi? Could you have the same song on the Nuc then play over usb and hdmi and compare?
In the last few days I have revisited playing over DLNA. I currently have my Nuc connected to my pre by hdmi, the Nuc is running Plex. I wanted to compare so tried it from my Oppo using Dlna and preamp using Dlna. Unfortunately there is some improvement, I say unfortunately because over Dlna I lose the nice browsing and playing on the tv experience with Plex.
i started with thinkpad as source then lenovo tiny pc / lps then built my own mitx pc / lps.  each is an improvement.
Intel Nuc from Mitx pc?

That is where I got mine, could have given you a contact. 

So you are liking it? I've had mine a couple of years, I am going to build another custom in a Full Atx case to replace it.

Hello SoundChars, I do not have a solution for your question, but a question myself. May I ask for your expertise and guidance? ow can I connect my music collection on a FLAC USB to my pre-amp listed here? My sound system is an early 80s ‘stack’ system.

None of the components are digital: Bryston 2B solid state amp, Conrad-Johnson PV-11 pre-amp, MIT 330 interconnects, MusicWave phase-equalized speaker cables, California Audio Labs CD Alpha and Delta drive, Dual 1129 turntable. B&W 803 speakers.

I would appreciate your suggestions and guidance on the matter.Thank you.

Mark Saracino


Plug your usb into a computer or laptop. From there if there is an analog out (like a headphone jack) use that to your stereo.  If no analog out then use USB to an external DAC then to your stereo.

I'm using a dedicated Dell laptop to host my FLAC files and for streaming. Playing through Audirvana software.  Then USB to an Ayre Codex DAC. Then to my Amp.  
If the new computer will be dedicated only to being a music streamer, you might get better sound quality from a dedicated streamer that is more optimized to reduce the amount of electrical noise. The Pro-ject Stream Box Ultra S2 is only $850 & allows plugging in an external USB flash drive or solid-state drive for playback of local files. I’ve found the Pro-ject streamer clearly sounded better than both a PC laptop or an iPhone used as a source. Even a relatively cheap Dragonfly Red sounded tremendously better (and actually quite listenable) plugged into the Pro-ject Streambox versus a PC or iPhone. The Dragonfly Red sounded much more 3-dimensional in its sound and with much more presence when used with the Pro-ject streamer versus PC or iPhone.  I’m hearing the same sonic benefits via a Denafrips Ares II DAC as well.