Today we are going to review two more cheap fanless 2.5GbE systems, and this time with a twist: these are the higher-end ones. These two systems, again from Topton and Kingnovy via AliExpress, are similar to others we have looked at before in many ways with 4x 2.5GbE ports and even similar chassis. The biggest difference is that these systems use the Intel Pentium N6005 which is the premium Atom in the lineup. In our review, we want to see if it is worth it.
STH Mini PC Background
As with many of these newer units, we are going to have a video version that you can see here:
As always, we suggest opening this in its own tab, window, or app for the best viewing experience.
We purchased two units because these were all shipping slowly. The first one is from the Kingnovy AliExpress store and this was a barebones unit for $276. It took well over a month to arrive. We are going to use this one for most of our photos.
The second one is from the Topton Computer Store and took 40 days to arrive. With the 16GB DDR4 memory and a 256GB NVMe SSD it was $419. As with other units we have purchased with SSDs, this came with pfSense pre-installed even though that was not requested. We wiped the system before using it.
Perhaps the big new feature is the new processor. The Intel Pentium N6005 is a Jasper Lake CPU with four cores and four threads. At the same time, the new 10nm process, cache upgrades, and new architecture mean sizable performance benefits. Here is a comparison of the Intel J4125, N5095, N5105, and N6005.
This new processor means that we get new features as well with newer AES-NI, the 10nm core, a L3 cache, and so forth.
While it may seem like the 10W TDP is the same as the N5105 we reviewed earlier, the power consumption was certainly higher, but we also saw more performance.
Although we did not experience this, there is a thread with users on the forums having different experiences than what we saw with the N6005. These are certainly systems with variability as they are made to be almost as cheap as possible. That variability can mean poor thermal interface between the CPU and the chassis. Some users are reporting ES CPUs in the early batch, and so forth. While these may be the cheapest units out there, they also are not up to the quality control standards of something like the Netgate 4100 we took a quick look at and will have a review of in the coming weeks.
With that, let us get to the hardware since there is a lot here. Readers of this series will recognize most of what we are about to see.