4x 2.5GbE Intel Pentium N5105 Fanless Power Consumption
For power, we got a DAJING AC adapter. Interestingly enough, the I226 came with a LiteON unit with full regulatory markings. Previous models came with a generic “Replacement AC Adapter” that had poor performance.
There was a noticeable impact in power consumption thanks to these power supplies. Our idle ranged from 6.4-6.7W, down from 10-12W idle on the “Replacement AC Adapter”. The maximum also improved with the maximum briefly reaching about 20W but typically staying under 18W, compared to the 25W on the generic adapter. 4W of power does not mean much to our readers with inexpensive power, but for others, this can add up. Check out the video for more information.
Intel Ark lists the i225 NICs as having a higher TDP (1.95W) than the i226 NICs (1.3W). We did not notice these differences in our testing but felt it was good to include that information.
Key Lessons Learned
A key lesson learned was that the power supply matters. The move to a more efficient power supply saved enough power to be considered a major improvement. Also moving the NICs to the CPU side seems to have helped thermals quite a bit. It is amazing to see how fast these units are improving over time. It is also quite amazing to see how such small changes become new revisions. We figured we would cover this one just to be complete.
Will just looked at the larger Core i7 units and found they are great virtualization nodes using VMware ESXi and pfSense. Still, if you do not need the CPU power, then the N5105 is a real sweet spot for these devices. Proxmox VE and OPNsense had no issues on both of the units and seemed to work fine. However for pfSense, until pfSense 2.7 releases, the i225-V’s are likely the better option compared to the i226-V as the i225 NICs are supported by the current pfSense 2.6. Some may prefer the i225’s for that reason.
Overall, we would suggest getting the newer i226-V version, but we wanted to at least document this one.
In general, we think that this is a good unit, but probably not what we would recommend. Our recommendation would be the newer i226 NICs in these units. With the new incremental design changes in this unit compared to where these were earlier in 2022, great strides have been made.
We also found the new internal configuration interesting, with the new WiFi slot expanding options for connectivity in these devices.
The RAM and SSD may be something we may continue to purchase just to show our readers what we get. The one part about these machines that has not changed is that we do not recommend getting them bundled with the units. It is usually less expensive to get them locally.
With that, on to the next one coming soon.
I’ve been really interested in these but I really want one that can do 10 Gbps rather than just 2.5. I ended up realising that a second hand Dell Optiplex is much cheaper than these (under $100) and the SFF version has a couple of low profile PCIe slots where you could fit a 10G NIC. I imagine they will use more than the ~15 W of these tiny devices but I got a couple to experiment with as I think they might do the job I’m after quite well. It’ll be interesting to see whether they can route at 10G but I imagine they probably could.
Hi Malvineous, I had a 10gb opn/pf router with an i5 8400. With a single transfer I was getting 4.3gb/s and I could max out my connection with 3 transfers. I think I was getting limited by single core perf on the single transfer. In practice i didn’t notice.
I downsized over the weekend and put in a Topton N6005. I only have 1gb internet at the moment. It’s quite delightful for such a small box. It’s happily doing IDS with low CPU.
If all goes well I’ll get at least one more of these boxes for virtualisation… and I’m toying with using one as a HTPC
7-zip and compile benchmarks on a FW? How about intervlan throughput with and without rules. WAN-LAN throughput. IPSec throughput. Firewally things…
“AliExpress-sourced 2.5GbE units for use as firewalls” — guys, this is one of the best joke in the industry in 2022. Keep up good work!
@Malvineous. I wonder if anyone has any real life experience with the Supermicro X10SLH-LN6TF (https://www.ebay.com/itm/133362966075) Six intel x540 ports. Even uses a PLX chip to co nnect them to the CPU! I guess it consumes quite a lot but it’s otherwize surprisingly cheap. I wonder what is the catch..
A very minimal 1151 board with an i3-8100T can idle around 5-6W with an SSD, which is significantly better than Intel’s 4th gen. This is of course with no audio chip and a single gigabit LAN port, but there isn’t much of a difference anymore between the ULV U-series parts and the socketed desktop chips. That is almost on par with this Pentium, despite it being a full-fledged desktop chip. Of course, it can and does consume up to 35W under load, but it is nice to see that it can scale down just as well as the ULP chips.
Has anyone looked into the BIOS of these boards for cybersecurity issues?
Can you add a routing performance test to these boxes? A sweep of performance by packet size?
Well the Optiplex 7040s arrived, Intel i5-6500 (3.2 GHz, 4-core, no hyperthreading). With a 10G NIC (Intel X520) and no iptables rules, iperf reports 9.38 Gbps in one direction, at 15-20% of a single CPU core. If I run two iperfs in parallel in opposite directions then it gives me 9.17 Gbps in each direction, with two CPU cores sitting at 15-20% each, and the other two cores idle.
Idle power is 21 watts at the wall socket, at 10G up + 10G down it jumps to 38 watts. This is with the max supported 64 GB RAM and a 1TB Samsung 980 M.2 SSD, which reads at 2.2GB/sec.
At this rate I’m tempted to put a 25G NIC in it instead 🙂
@Nikolay Mihaylov: That Supermicro one looks pretty nice, US$99 for 6x 10G. Shame the shipping is US$90 though as it doubles the price! Not sure what the catch is, maybe only SATA for storage, no M.2, so it puts server people off? Seems like it’d be fine for router duty though.
The catch is that X540 is a very power hungry beast, 1 X540-T2 can easily run up 17.4W
Idle is not much better either. I tested them at idle without any fans nearby and they got REALLY hot
Apparently X550 have similar power draw but I’ve only seen noticeably smaller heatsinks on X550s…
@KarelG: I looked at this a bit more after your comment. This article caused me to retire the box in favour of hardware from a better known vendor with firmware updates: https://theintercept.com/2019/01/24/computer-supply-chain-attacks/
@Dave: Yeah, the x540 is meant to have hurricane/server levels of airflow. I zip-tied a 40mm Noctua to the heatsink on mine.
I ‘m currently using the Topton box as a HTPC. It’s interesting given the price point but won’t reliably play youtube at 4K (100% CPU). I’m monitoring it’s network traffic with Opnsense IDS, nothing weird yet.
@ Malvineous I was thinking to get one of this boxes on aliexpress.. I5-1135g7 found around 300$ barebones. Shipping from far.. 2.5g is sufficient for me but I question the quality and some say about BIOS security.. this optilex might be a better safer option.. how much power does it drain? Some say on the long run money spent with optilex on power consumption would pass the cost of this small boxes.. and buying from us a Protectli is super expensive.. advice?