Today we are going to take the opportunity to look at a 6x 2.5GbE option that worked better than we would have expected. This is another fanless unit, but with a twist. The unit comes with the Intel Pentium N6005, and we think this is a good unit, but there are some things we would change.
STH Mini PC Overview
We purchased this unit from Topton in the same timeframe as the two Intel Core i7-1165G7 units over the summer. We put all three of the units in a single video, so here is the video:
The video goes into these two units, including this Intel Pentium N6005 version. The common thread is that they all have 6x 2.5GbE ports on them. In the meantime, Will did a piece with VMware ESXi, Veeam, and pfSense on one of the Core i7 units you can find in Intel Core i7-1165G7 2.5GbE Box Running VMware ESXi and pfSense. As always, we suggest opening the video in its own browser, tab, or app for the best viewing experience.
Just a word on pricing here. The first Core i7 unit we purchased was $539 and the second (better) one was $525. We purchased the N6005 fanless unit, barebones, for $299. At the time, the N5105 unit was $221. There is usually around a $40-50 premium for the two additional network ports over the four-port models with the N5105, but that premium can expand to $50-75 for the N6005.
The two ways to think about the cost of this is that it is significantly less expensive than the Core i7 models. The other is that this was getting close to two N5105 4x 2.5GbE models. Prices change over time, but we just record prices when we purchase these.
Next, let us get to our review.
6x 2.5GbE Intel Pentium N6005 Fanless Hardware Overview
On the front of the unit, we get a power button and a serial COM port. There is then a HDMI video output. The four USB ports are two USB 3 and two USB 2 ports. This is a common configuration except that the serial port is something that a lot of our readers wanted but we did not see on early units.
The other side is really the important side. Here we have the 12V DC power input, but also the networking. There are six RJ45 ports, each capable of up to 2.5GbE speeds.
Something that is different here is the ordering. You can see here that the ports (left to right) are ETH5 to ETH0. On the two six-port Core i7 units, these ports were ETH0 to ETH5. On the four port 2.5GbE units, they are usually ETH0 to ETH3.
The other point to notice is just how large this chassis is. It is not the size of the larger Core i7 unit, but it is notably larger than the smaller Core i7 unit (pictured in the middle above.) The unit itself is larger, and that makes it heavier than the 4-port units.
Just for another fun chassis fact, the N6005 6-port unit had a similar vented bottom design as the “good” Core i7 unit, and we could actually swap bottoms between those two units. The “less good” smaller Core i7 unit had a smaller bottom panel. This bottom panel unscrews with four screws and there are mounting points for a 2.5″ drive, or a 40mm fan, or one can pull cables through a channel and use external cabling like for storage.
Here is the SATA data and power cable that goes in this chassis:
Here is a look at the internal bits. The two SODIMM slots are on the top, and the mPCIe on the bottom. One very different feature is that the Intel i225-V (SLNMH) NICs are on the opposite side of the board even though the ports are on this side.
On the top, we have two DDR4 SODIMM slots along with a crazy CR2032 mounting that stretches across the case. This was just odd to see.
One small feature in the top corner is a 4-pin fan header. We have been running this unit fanless, but one can run it with a fan to cool the SODIMM and SSD area. Our suggestion is to expect the fan to run at 100% so if you want a silent fan, you will want a low noise Noctua one for example.
On the bottom, we have a M.2 slot along with a mPCIe slot and SIM card slot. Generally, with these, we use low-power SSDs to keep power and heat to reasonable levels.
Usually, the AliExpress vendors have 3G/4G wireless cards and other options for the units, but we have not tested them in these units.
Next we are going to get to performance, but since we have looked at the N6005 before, some of our readers may want to skip to page 3 and the power consumption and our final thoughts on these.