At STH, we are now in our eighth year of reviewing tech. As a result we have experienced many cycles of technological leaps and incremental refreshes. A lot of what we cover is focused on incremental changes. Some days there are leaps that make you smile. The Netgate SG-1000 is one of those leaps. We are going to have our full review coming once we get more time under our belt and as pfSense 2.4-Release becomes live. At the same time, this is a device that 12 hours into using it evokes a smile each time you look at the form factor because you can think of a new use case. We are also testing the Netgate SG-1000 with the popular FreeBSD firewall appliance software, pfSense (2.4-beta). We expect pfSense 2.4 will be the milestone where ARM-based pfSense appliances will become more popular.
First Look at the Netgate SG-1000 with pfSense
We are going to save the teardown pictures for the full review, as well as looking at accessories like the wall mount kit. In this piece, we simply wanted to show what the solution looks like. The unit Netgate sent was bright red, but there is an understated black available. I am fairly certain someone will 3D print cases like STH community members did with the Raspberry Pi.
To give a sense of scale we looked around the lab for common items. We had a SanDisk Lightning Ascend Gen II drive nearby which is a 2.5″ SAS SSD. That should help with dimensions as well as the WAN and LAN RJ-45 ports.
On the opposing side there are console and USB OTG ports. The serial console cable is USB based while the USB OTG adapter is an inexpensive add-on. There is a power LED as well as a power input port. This unit is relatively simplistic.
Our unit came pre-installed with pfSense 2.4.0-BETA for ARM.
Using the included USB serial console we saw COM3 on our laptop. By the time we could open a serial Putty session at a 115200 baud rate, the unit booted and we could easily access the CLI.
In terms of the web UI, you can see that the responsive UI from pfSense.
Unique to the Netgate SG-1000 we see CPU Type listed as a Texas Instruments AM335x ARM Cortex A8 CPU.
To answer the first question we are likely to get, we still need to run load testing. Thus far the highest peak is well under 5W and closer to 3.4w shaving a few tenths at idle.
If you are a pfSense user, and have not subscribed to pfSense Gold ($99/ year), the SG-1000 needs to be on your shopping list. Likewise, if you are thinking about deploying a higher-end pfSense appliance, get this first. For $149 you get a 1-year pfSense Gold subscription. You can read about our pfSense Gold Subscription: Initial Impressions when we tried it out in 2015 and that was after having used pfSense for years and more content has been added since.
From initial impressions, if you need a 1GbE pfSense firewall with many features turned on while still operating at or near line speed, we are not going to recommend the SG-1000. On the other hand, if you just want to learn pfSense or need an out of band management VPN gateway, this is just about the perfect device. If you want to get your friends and family on pfSense plus separate AP’s, the pricing on this unit is approaching high-end home market levels.