4x 2.5GbE Intel Pentium N5105 Fanless Power Consumption
For power, we saw a major upgrade. Instead of the generic “Replacement AC Adapter”, we now have a LiteON unit with regulatory markings and everything.
The impact of this was huge. Our idle ranged in the 6.4-6.7W range. Maximum power consumption briefly hit 20W but was usually under 18W. We have seen users swap out the old generic power supplies for these to save money over time on power. For some of our readers with inexpensive power, 4W makes little difference. In some places in Europe, when prices can reach $7/ year per watt, 4W adds up quickly. If you want to see the unit boot and idle, you can see that in the accompanying video, along with another one of the power supply options we had.
Key Lessons Learned
On the key lessons learned, first is naturally the new power supply being a huge upgrade. Since we just covered that and the fact that the N5105 is our best value pick, let us move to some of the more important features.
The move to the CPU side NICs is one that appears to have helped thermals.
Those NICs being Intel i226-V NICs instead of Intel i225-V had a unique impact. OPNsense worked out of the box, as did Promxox VE. We could even virtualize the firewalls in these. pfSense was a bit more challenging.
Will just looked at the larger Core i7 units and found they are great virtualization nodes using VMware ESXi and pfSense.
The Intel i226-V’s are not supported in the current pfSense CE 2.6. They are supported in pfSense CE 2.7 development. If you want to run pfSense bare metal or with pass-through NICs, the i225-V is probably the better option until pfSense 2.7 hits release.
Also, while we still think it is a better value to get name-brand low-power SODIMMs and NVMe SSDs, the Ranxiana one sure looks unique.
Between Patrick and I, we now have 20+ of these units running. I have to say, I wish all of them were this new spec. The WiFi being under the M.2 is clearly not ideal, but the NIC changes and the overall systems feel like they are getting better.
Running all of these units is interesting since it allows one to run a Proxmox VE cluster distributed if you have adequate networking. 6.5W with the better power supply is a very reasonable idle power consumption figure for something like this. Adding only a few units allows for a silent cluster to be built, while not having the same impact of a 200W+ larger system. At the same time, having a single larger system feels like the better option when there are a dozen of these running. After all, only being four cores means that the OS is taking up extra resources on each machine and the amount of stranded capacity goes up.
Still, it has been great to see these units evolve over the past year. In the video, we not only show the i225-V version but also the J6413 units that have arrived and that we will review next. Our next piece in this series, though, will be much more exciting than a 4x 2.5GbE system.