Intel Alder Lake-N is simply awesome. We have been using the new fanless Intel N100 and N200 units, based on CWWK designs, for several weeks now, and they are game changers. there is some new functionality that folks will be excited for. Some folks will be less excited about changes, but the new units represent a big shift in the fanless firewall and virtualization appliance space.
Fanless Intel N100 Firewall and Virtualization Appliance Overview
For this, we have a video covering both the Intel N100 and N200 versions of this fanless firewall and virtualization host appliance:
As always, we suggest opening the video in its own tab or app for the best viewing experience.
Getting these units was nothing short of challenging. We ordered them in early April, and they arrived in May. We ordered two N100 units from different sellers with different pictures on their listings and received two almost identical units. Not only did the N100 units share the same chassis, but the N200 system we ordered did too.
The base barebones are $216 but fluctuate based on the day. Here is an AliExpress affiliate link to the one we purchased. We ordered a configured unit for $332 which was not financially prudent, but we wanted to see what components were in the bundle.
We ordered the Intel N100 instead of the N95 just because it was a $10 delta between the two. Our sense is the N100 is going to be a bit more exciting for our readers since one of the biggest questions we get is the performance. The N95 is going to be closer to the N5105/ N6005 previous generation, so we are starting at the N100 Intel Alder Lake-N part.
Overall, ~$216 for barebones feels reasonable for a 4x 2.5GbE solution. Paying an extra $110 or so for the 16GB DDR5 SODIMM and 512GB NVMe SSD felt too expensive since those are roughly $75 or so on Amazon.
With that, let us get to the hardware.
Fanless Intel N100 External Hardware Overview
The front of the system has a power button, TF (microSD) card slot, and two USB Type-A ports. There is a recessed clear CMOS button. Then there is something marked G. We are unsure what to call this. Perhaps it is the G switch, button, or spot? One also gets two wireless antenna holes to use, but our unit did not come with WiFi.
On the back of the unit, we get two more USB Type-A ports, a DisplayPort and HDMI port, and a 12V power input. The big feature here is a set of four 2.5GbE ports based on the Intel i226-V.
The top of the unit has fins.
The side of the unit has more fins.
The bottom of the unit has vents. We are going to quickly note that you may see that there is now a mesh over the vents. This is an upgrade on these newer units and is one of the points where we see the quality has increased.
Next, let us get inside the unit to see more detail.