We have been waiting for this for seemingly forever. Today is a day to get excited about as we are finally reviewing an Intel Core i3-N305 based fanless 2.5GbE router and firewall. For a decade, the low-end E-core only CPUs have suffered from paltry performance, four cores, and 1GbE. Today, that changes with what might be the biggest improvement in the space since the Intel Atom C2000 was launched in 2013.
Fanless 4x 2.5GbE Intel Core i3-N305 System Overview
Although we did a combined video for the N100/ N200 version, we have a dedicated video for the Core i3-N305 version of these.
As always, we suggest opening this in its own tab, window, or app for the best viewing experience.
We ended up with two units. The primary unit is from a company called CWWK which is the OEM for many of these systems.
We also purchased a unit from Topton because it showed a different chassis. The different chassis never shipped, and instead, we got the same chassis as the CWWK unit came with, just with an older H-board for M.2 expansion and a different power supply.
There was one enormous difference though. The CWWK one came with a small screwdriver (shown in the video) but also a board with mSATA, M.2, and SATA connections that could be configured via switches.
CWWK has grand plans for the platform and not only sent us an updated version of that configurable board just before the board went live but also this M.2 to 4x M.2 breakout board.
We will discuss those breakout boards a bit more in the Internal Overview section.
Overall, the barebones units are around $300, or about $90-100 more than the N100/N200 platforms. If you want to find affiliate links to the units on AliExpress, here is the CWWK listing and the Topton listing. CWWK also now has an Amazon store where these were listed briefly, and we hope they make a comeback.
Let us get to the hardware.
Fanless 4x 2.5GbE Intel Core i3-N305 External Hardware Overview
On the front of the unit, we get the power button, a recessed G button, and a clear CMOS recessed button. There are two USB ports and despite the superspeed logo, we found they were USB 2.0 ports.
The TF card slot is a microSD card slot without the associated licensing fees. There are also two WiFi antenna holes that are in the chassis but covered by plugs.
The chassis itself is one we saw on the Intel Core i5 6x 2.5GbE System by CWWK. It is larger than some of the early systems that we reviewed, but it is designed to better cool systems.
On the rear, we get many familiar features. There are two USB Type-A ports that we also found were running at USB 2.0 speeds. That seems to be the norm for the N100/N200/N305 systems right now. There are two display outputs, one HDMI and one DisplayPort. We also get the power input and four 2.5GbE (Intel i226-V) ports.
The bottom of the system also has another small change. There is now a mesh covering the holes on the bottom of the chassis. We have gone from a solid bottom to having small holes, to larger holes, to now larger holes with mesh over the past 18 months or so in these fanless PCs.
Next, let us get inside the system.