Power Consumption and Noise
Power consumption on these was interesting. We have received a number of reports that the Jasper Lake power supplies that come with the Topton and KingNovy units are of very poor quality. We have had readers replace the PSUs and save a few watts. At the same time, our other sense is that most of our readers will use the standard power supplies. Admittedly, with the J4125 units that use significantly less power, we have a few now on PoE+ splitters.
At idle, we saw between 10-12W depending on single versus double SODIMM configurations. Maximum power consumption hit just over 30W. Both at idle and at maximum, this is significantly higher than the J4125, but one also gets more performance, so there is a clear trade-off. At the top end, adding ~5W over the N5105 was unexpected based on similar TDPs. Neither unit failed even though it is using the same chassis as the lower-power units, but 5W in a fanless platform is quite a big jump. Some of that may be attributable to the power supply though.
Key Lessons Learned
In our key lessons learned, we are going to break from tradition a bit and discuss rankings before publishing our N5095 review.
At this point, there are certain things we know. The units that are pre-configured tend to charge a lot for not necessarily the best SODIMMs and NVMe SSDs. At the same time, they tend to work out of the box. We are now ordering barebones units only instead of fully configured. The premium for the fully configured system is a lot more than barebones and adding components.
Even with the barebones, the N6005 often commands a ~$45 premium over the N5105 and that is greater than 10% on a moderately configured system (on the barebones it is higher.) Performance was better by 5-20%, but that is basically paying for the additional performance linearly. That logic fails if you live in a higher power cost location since the extra 0-5W of power consumption will likely change the equation over time.
Still, in order of ranking, our general guidance now is:
The N5105 seems to be a good balance of performance, cost, and power consumption. It is usually less than $10 more than the N5095. That is a simple upgrade. The case for the N6005 is more challenging. The performance upgrade comes at high costs. Not just up-front costs, but also for power consumption. With more power, it also puts more stress on the chassis. We did not have an issue as some have reported with the N6005, but logically it makes sense that in an ultra-low-cost platform there is more variability so reducing the tolerance with a hotter (possibly ES) CPU could create a higher chance for an issue.
With the Intel J4125 4x i225 units, it is more clear that there is a power and performance trade-off, also at a lower price. The jump between the J4125 and the Jasper Lake parts is large. It feels like that jump makes a lot of sense. For those that just need a simple firewall or router, the J4125 is probably the better option. For those that need something with more performance, the N5105 is likely better. The N6005 is interesting because it provides just that “little bit more” but we also need to acknowledge that if one really wants much more performance then there are other chips like the Atom C3000 series that can provide more.
That is the logic for the above. There is a Core i7 unit available at almost twice the price, but that unit just arrived. Also, we will note that these are basically unsupported systems so if you need something consistent and supported, getting a unit like the Netgate 4100 is likely a better option even if the costs are higher.
Initially, the Intel Pentium Silver N6005 was the unit that I lusted after. It was the best available in the 10nm Jasper Lake series. It is also hard to admit that maybe one does not need the fastest, but that seems to be what happened here. Part of that view may be colored by waiting over a month for each of these units.
What we did realize through this is that the Atom N6005 was consistently faster than the N5105. That 5-20% performance gain is really the entire reason to pick this over the N5105. While it remains cool that we have Atom CPUs rivaling 35W TDP Intel Core i5-6500T CPUs from the beginning of the Project TinyMiniMicro series, one has to wonder if the total package is the right answer. If you are OK with the slow delivery, and lack of support/ customer service from AliExpress sellers, and you need just a bit more performance than what the N5105 offers at a higher price, then the N6005 might be the right fit for you.
I ordered my Topton N6005 barebone unit on May 13th, and I’m still waiting for it. It “shipped” on the last day of the 40-day deadline, but there is still no tracking information (which tells me they just moved it from one virtual queue to another, and I’m no closer to receiving it).
Please go back to presenting hardware statically.
Now you are shaking and waving and there is no chance to see the details.
Previous form was much better…
It looks like the PSU doesn’t need a grounding wire? In my new apartment the wiring closet has three Euro outlets (2-prongs, so no ground), I’d really like to put a small switch and openwrt router inside the wiring closet, my current setup is just a high shelf put in front of the wiring closet (with the door removed).
As a comment to Niel above, I ordered the Topton unit (6005 bare bones) and waited a while for mine to arrive. They did send occasional messages in the AliExpress app apologising and speaking to the various lockdowns occuring over there, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt.
Eventually I got a notice almost at the deadline that it had shipped like you, and actually it arrived not very long after that. A quick slotting in of some RAM and SSD, a Proxmox install then pfSense, and it’s been sitting there quietly ever since.
As a note to everyone: they do get quite warm, to the extent that I bought an AC Infinity Multifan S3 120mm fan to sit on top. It’s exactly the right size, silent and keeps it nice and cool.
Thanks for the advice on the fan model. I’m planning the exact same setup (plus a VM for Ubuntu and possibly Windows) and the whole thing will sit out in the garage where my cable modem and network gear are. I’ll monitor the temp with Home Assistant (like I do with the RPi’s that are already out there) and likely add the fan. Can’t wait!
We need basic ips throughput, just to get ballpark numbers. Do balanced rules in snort and do a speed test
If you need a decent amount of parallel VPN to manage the work at home trend the N6005 is absolutely the best choice. PfSense and OpnSense both perform very well with IPsec, OpenVPN or wireguard
I really enjoyed your video. Love the fast information dump with many thoughtful aspects. Even about considering the j4125 as a best bang for buck firewall appliance. I wish US companies were developing boxes with the 2.5g ports at this price point, but doesn’t seem to be the case. I want to partition to test pfsense, opnsense and sophos.
Amazon has the j4125 and thinking of just getting there since delivery is fast, but do not like missing out on the 6005 cpu.
Great review Patrick! One quick question, could you reveal the POE+ splitter you’ve used for the j4125 4×2.5g boxes you’ve mentioned in the article?
I just ordered a KingNovy n5105 device from AliExpress. Does anyone know if there are updated UEFI/BIOS files for these computers? If so where do you get them?
Does anyone know of a product similar to this that is rack mountable? Even if it’s fanless, I’m fine with adding external fans for active cooling.
@Nick If you get a Changwang model (e.g. the board identifies as CW-N6000), you’ll have to hunt around on their website. There’s a “downloads” section where they’ve been posting BIOS updates for certain boards. I flashed an update to my CW-N6000 (4-port) board a few days ago.
I ordered the 6* NIC N6005-version from KingNovy (PC Store) and was hoping to find the “KingNovy”-chassi shown here (the one that is able to stand vertically) but sadly the 6-port version doesn’t seem to exist? Have anyone found it?
Also when the store which I bought it from on AliExpress was:
“KingNovy PC Store”
however I also saw that there were sellers which were similarly named such as:
“KingNovy 3C Store”
and another which I believe was named:
“KingNovy PC Store Official”
Comparing “PC Store” vs “3C Store” both had the same “business license” on AliExpress so I guess its the same seller / store but different “fronts”?
Which seller did you buy from for this review?
It doesn’t seem to matter if its the same company behind “all” (at least the two I compared) the KingNovy stores?
Final update. Barebones system ordered on May 13th, delivered on July 15th.
Is there anybody who tried if 64GB RAM is working with them? I asked the seller on Ali and said that use original Hynix modules for 2*32GB. BUT they don’t have such option and also they didn’t send further info. It would be great to have 64GB in these models (with esxi or proxmox).
I’ve bought a couple of these N6005 units now (Topton brand) from AliExpress – one with 4*2.5GB NIC and one with 6*2.5GB NIC – both of them came with one random branded 16GB DDR4 stick. I’ve now got two if these ‘cheap’ DDR4 sticks of different brands. I tried to move sticks between systems to test if I can increase memory capacity and I am unable to get either system to boot without the exact memory configuration that they were shipped with. Even if I just swap one 16GB DDR4 stick for the other one it simply won’t boot. Has anyone else experienced this when trying to upgrade the RAM?
If someone has ram issues i have a theory: In the bios go to Chipset>system agent configuration>memory configuration and set SA GV to disable. And by the way the thermals on this thing are awfully bad so i disassemble it and used some polishing compound to clean all the imperfections from both the copper block as well as the heat sink and then put some SYY157 paste between the copper block and the heat sink and liquid metal between the block and the Pentium SoC also replaced the motherboard screws whit spring loaded screws to increase mounting pressure and all this leads to a massive temperature drop from 80C to just 49C under full CPU load.This is going to be my new router but first i need to make sure all the performance and security issues are solved before i put in 24/7 operation.
On RAM expandability:
I can only judge from a Jasper Lake Intel NUC, which I managed to get a couple of weeks ago, first time it was ever available long after launch…
I started it off with two 2x 8GB DDR4-2400 modules from the stash: no issues.
Then I tried to see if it would do 64GB, which the J5005 predecessor didn’t like (they topped out at 32GB, still much higher than the official 8GB Intel puts in their specs).
For that test I borrowed 2 32GB DDR4-3200 from a Tiger Lake NUC.
I was ready to give up when the screen stayed dark, but I got distracted so I didn’t turn it right off. After what seemed far too long it just booted and worked just fine, all 64GB minus a tiny bit for the frame buffer ready to use.
It clocked the RAM at DDR4-2933, but essentially there is very little difference to DDR4-2400. Memory Bandwidth on Geekbench 4 goes from 22 to 25GByte/s which is far below the 40GByte/s the Tiger Lake’s i7-1167G5 gets from the same SO-DIMMs.
But for the first time in an Atom RAM is definitely dual channel, with a single DIMM bandwidth drops to 12.5GByte/s on the Jasper Lake. I doubt that makes a big difference on code, but iGPUs need bandwidth, especially at their highest level of buildout
Where my first Atom, a J1900 was atrocious even on a THD desktop, the N6005 doesn’t disappoint even at 4k: It’s quite a competent 2D office machine and even the Google Maps 3D Globe view puts Microsoft’s Flight Simulator to shame at 4k full screen in a Chrome based browser on Windows.
Most modern Linux variants may only need to be reminded that the i915 driver will indeed competently handle the iGPU via a boot flag and then work just as well.
Just as Patrick noted, going for speed in an NVMe drive won’t pay off, because there aren’t enough PCIe lanes (8 in total) to go around and not all potential permuations of n-furication are supported. Each 2.5 Gbit/s NIC will require one lane for itself and on the NUC the M.2 NVMe connector only offers 2 PCIe 3.0 lanes to the drive. That means the other M.2 slots are down to SATA and USB, but that’s conjection until somebody dumps some ‘lspci’ info or similar.
Also note that at least on the NUC Intel is squeezing TDP to get Sandy Bridge equivalent performance: defaults set PL2 at 25 Watts and PL1 at 15 Watts. I’ve never measured more than 20 Watts (Prime95+Furmark) but on the NUC with an active fan it will stay at 15 Watts if the BIOS is configured that way.
I don’t believe that a passive case that isn’t truly massive will be able to sustain that.
The ASRock J5005 Mini-ITX Atoms I own stricktly stick to 10 Watts and I’d conclude that the performance gains of Jasper Lake vs. Goldmont Plus are all paid in Watts and not gained from 10nm.
I read on a German forum that someone bought this unit (or a very similar one) and swapped the power supply for a high quality one. The power consumption was considerably lower…
Addition to the above post.
MEAN WELL GST60A12-P1J oder GSM36E12-P1J with 5.5/2.1 to 5.5/2.5 adapter…
How do you guys are determining if the memory is running at 2933mhz? CPUz dont seem to recognize it, hwinfo seems to change dynamically kinda like downclocking not sure why. So wondering what are you guys using to check the memory is running at 2933?
I know the Protectli units have it, but do any of these more generic systems have a console port at all (serial or usb)? It makes setup just so stinking easy and I don’t need a tinypilot or crash cart to set one up.
Hy guys. Desperate help needed. I broke my topton n6005 unit with a bad bios update. I really need the full bios (dump) in order to reprogram the flash. It’s the v 3.0 board, black N6005. Thanks
I ordered an N6005 from loksing, which can bear customs duties for customers in EU countries. It took only 13 days to arrive in Germany.
Did anyone tested the J6412 or J6413? Or even the i5-1135G7 version
I’d like to see how it compares to the N5105.
The thing is the enternet card for these product! 2.5gbe NIC in these mostly are intel and they are cheap and suck! it could be i225v3 or i226 model, those recommand to avoid item.