A few months ago, we reviewed the original GoWin R86S. It was an incredible little machine with a very different premise. Instead of competing as the lowest-power Intel N5105/N6005 system, or being fanless, or settling for a few 2.5GbE ports, the original R86S offered 10GbE SFP+. Today, we have a new version of the R86S-N that was made especially for STH. Since it is a special model, we are going to call it the R86S Pro since it does not have a name, but if it did, that is what it should be called. This model has 25GbE SFP28, twice as much memory, and twice as many cores, and fixes our chief challenge with the original model. Let us get to it.
GoWin R86S Pro Overview
Of course, we have a video for this review. That video also has a special cameo from the iKoolCore R1‘s new R1 Pro version. You can find it here:
As always, we suggest opening this in a new browser window, tab, or app for a better viewing experience.
Since we have a slightly different version than is common, the closest configuration to what we have is the GoWin R86S-N305B. That is currently $550-600 and comes with the same Intel Core i3-N305 CPU, 32GB of memory, a 128GB eMMC onboard storage option, and dual SFP+ 10GbE. Our option simply swaps the 10GbE NIC for a 25GbE option.
While this may seem strange at first, it is set to be an option on the 1U variant of this system in the future. Hopefully, we will get to bring you that review as well. We were doing some early testing of the 25GbE option in this form factor and thought it would be interesting to review. Of course, since this is not exactly a public model, it was sent as a special model from GoWin. We also ordered several R86S SFP+ units after our previous review because we liked the solution that much.
With that, let us get to the hardware.
GoWin R86S-N External Hardware Overview
The GoWin R86S is known for being small, but the new N variant is slightly larger than its predecessor. As we will explain later in this review, this is an excellent product design decision.
In some photos, these will look like fanless units. Let us be clear, the chassis may be metal and may help to dissipate heat, but there are internal fans to help airflow. We can see one of these on top of the unit.
One side is blank, and if you never open the system, you will have no reason to visit this side of the chassis.
The big features, however, come with the ports. We get a 12V DC input in a Type-C jack. There is a USB 3 port and three Intel i226-V Ethernet ports. The SFP+ ports in a standard R86S-N would be 10GbE ports. In our one-off sample, these are 25GbE SFP28 ports.
Aside from that 25GbE one-off change, the big changes are to the USB and DC inputs. We probably prefer standard barrel jack 12V DC inputs because that makes them a bit easier to power over PoE++ with splitters, but that is certainly a more personal preference.
On the side of the system, we see the biggest upgrades. We get a micro USB COM port, a feature many want on firewall devices. We get two Type-A and one Type-C port, a HDMI port, and a TF card slot.
On the original R86S, a big point of feedback was that there were two USB ports. From a usability standpoint, that was less than ideal as one can imagine installing an OS from a USB stick and then plugging in either a keyboard or a mouse, but not both. In this new generation, GoWin delivered with more USB connectivity in addition to the COM port.
On the back, there are spaces for antennas. Ours came with small antennas, but we are fairly sure some of our readers will immediately have visions of larger antenna arrays.
Next, let us get inside the system.