Sometimes there are devices that are absolutely the best in their class. The R86S is the best in its class, albeit we are not entirely sure what that class is. In our review, we are going to take a look at how this small and low-power 2.5GbE/ 10GbE box is constructed, then hopefully start to delve into our best sense of its ultimate purpose. This little box exudes coolness.
The R86S Hardware Overview
For this one, we have a video that you can find here:
We get to show off a bit more of the system and let you hear the fan noise. Yes, this unit has fans despite its diminutive size. As always, we suggest opening the video in its own window, tab, or app for the best viewing experience. This may look like a Raspberry Pi-sized chassis, but it houses a surprisingly complex system.
This review took trying OpenWRT, pfSense, OPNsense, Ubuntu, Proxmox VE, Windows, and even VMware ESXi 8.0 so it was a relatively massive effort. Before we get to that, let us get to the hardware, starting with the outside of the chassis.
R86S Mini PC External Hardware Overview
This, is the R86S. To be more precise, this is the high-end “G3” version. It measures (minus the WiFi antennas) at 119mm x 79mm x 41mm. This is bigger than the average Raspberry Pi case, but not by that much.
On the side of the unit, we get USB 3, HDMI, and a TF card slot. TF is a term used in this category to avoid paying for MicroSD brand licensing. This side also has the system’s power button and HDD activity LED.
The real show here is the network port side. On top, there is a 12V DC input, a USB 3 Type-A port, and then lots of networking. The three RJ45 ports are 2.5GbE ports powered by Intel i225 NICs.
Below, there is one of the biggest options that drive price, power consumption, and capability. That is 10GbE SFP+ ports. We are going to get inside the system later and show you how those NICs are connected. It is fascinating.
On the rear of the unit, we get the two WiFi antenna ports.
Noting the top and the bottom of the unit, one may see fins, but this is not a fanless system. There are actually two fans. One uses the vent at the bottom of the above photo. The other one can see looking at the top of the unit.
On the bottom of the unit, we have rubber feet. We also have a panel that can be removed to get inside the system.
Next, let us get into the system and see what makes this really unique.