Topton Intel N5095 4x 2.5GbE Firewall Review

6

Key Lessons Learned

So let us take a step back here. This unit worked without issue for us. That is important because there is a fundamental difference between units that just do not work and ones that are rough around the edges and are comparatively weak. If you have one of these N5095 boxes, it would not make much sense to “upgrade” to a N5105 or N6005 box if we are being honest.

AliExpress Topton Intel N5095 Firewall Bottom 2
AliExpress Topton Intel N5095 Firewall Bottom 2

Our challenge is more with the price/ performance and power consumption. The difference between the N5105 and N5095 is usually $7-11. We now have many of these machines and the N5105 and N5095 performance is very close as is the power consumption.

Intel Pentium N5095 Linux Kernel Compile Benchmark
Intel Pentium N5095 Linux Kernel Compile Benchmark

Still, when it comes down to it, we think most of our readers would trade $7-11 upfront for 1-3W lower power consumption. Depending on where you are in the world, that difference can be made up in 1-2 years. If you have cheap power, then perhaps this is less of a concern and really either will work fine. It also did not use 5W more power than the N5105 so perhaps do not be fooled by the Intel Ark TDP spec, the power consumption is much closer in these systems.

Intel J4125 N5095 N5105 And N6005 Comparison Intel Ark
Intel J4125 N5095 N5105 And N6005 Comparison Intel Ark

We have also noticed that after we started reviewing these, the N5105 became more popular. Our sense is that the N5105 is going to be the dominant CPU in these going forward as it is probably the best price/ performance/ power mix of the three options. The N5095 is by no means bad, it is just not in the same sweet spot.

Final Words

Overall, this is an interesting little system. It actually works perfectly well for what it was advertised to do. It provides four 2.5GbE ports with the Intel i225 (B3) NICs. There is a 4-core Intel Celeron N5095 processor. It runs fanless and quiet. For what was advertised it works well.

AliExpress Topton Intel N5095 Firewall Port Angle 2
AliExpress Topton Intel N5095 Firewall Port Angle 2

Also, instead of putting high-end memory and SSDs in this system, like we did recently with the ASUS PN51-S1 Mini PC, the entire platform is made for lower-cost memory and storage. That goes along with the theme of using the lower-cost CPU. We just think there should be a bigger price gap between the N5105 and N5095 versions. Without a significant gap like there is between the N5105 and N6005, we think the N5105 is a better option.

AliExpress Topton Intel N5095 Firewall Internal Overview
AliExpress Topton Intel N5095 Firewall Internal Overview

This was a fun unit to look at but was not one we wanted to review with a video just because it became repetitive. This will work with either pfSense or OPNsense and either physical or virtualized as we tested it with those two OSes bare metal and virtualized with Proxmox VE. Our advice is still to get the N5105 versions of these if you can.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Living in Europe, I do appreciate your concern for the power consumption of the device!

    However, I’m not sure your advice is sound.

    Short variant: in an appliance context the max power consumption isn’t nearly as significant as the average power consumption for the job its doing–and that may be neglegable for those different bins.

    Long variant:

    All these Jasper Lake variants (perhaps even the dual cores) are most likely made from the same set of dice and just binned for outright defects, higher voltage requirements or even pure market segmentation.

    In the case of voltage bins, that’s typically chips requiring higher voltages to overcome less than perfect transistores or interconnects, but it could also be chips that simply won’t run reliably at higher clocks.

    In the first case an N5095 is liklely to consume more Watts than a N6005 at identical CPU core clocks. In the second case there might be no difference, though typically the two cases aren’t really isolated from one another.

    These being 24×7 appliances, idle power consumption is really the bigger factor and the principal reason you should pay close attention to the power supply and it’s efficiency. Yet for the Jasper Lake SoCs, I’d expect very little difference. The difference in power consumption only really comes into play as these chips rev to near maximum clocks. And there somewhat like its Rocket Lake cousins, Jasper Lakes is happy to go into power consumption territory where no Atom has gone before: My J5005 based systems tend to stick pretty close to the 10Watt TDP mark they officially have, while my Jasper Lake N6005 NUC has been observed to really burn the 28Watt PL2 TDP the BIOS allocates by default.

    Well, unlike my fully passive J5005 Mini-ITX systems (which never throttle!), it also has a fan…

    But at least on the NUC BIOS you can tell it to keep it down and make do with 12 Watts PL2 and 10 Watts PL1, at which point it sure won’t be using more than a N5095, but it might not be much faster either (well Atoms are no speed daemons anyway).

    Essentially with the N6005 you get a bit more choice and flexibility: you can let it rip near the maximum speed at the cost of the extra power or you can tone it down, if efficiency really were your top concern. You can’t change your mind with the 5095 and open up that throttle once you notice that that nice new broadband bandwidth update fails to make it through your firewall.

    But even without restricting the BIOS TDP setting, chances are the practical difference in terms of power consumption between the top bin Jasper Lake and its lower variants won’t be noticeable, because if you operate them near those top clocks for extended periods of time, you’re most likely using the wrong platform: at 28 Watts a Core mobile part will give you more performance per Watt because that’s operating near its peak efficiency point there, than an Atom that’s left that point far behind and has little left to give except heat.

    A couple of years ago I had to migrate from an J1900 Atom to a Kaby Lake i7-7700T Core CPU (35 Watt TDP) for my pfSense firewall , because with all the Suricata rulesets active, an Atom was quite overwhelmed and throttling the broadband bandwith, so be sure to measure realistically before you buy.

  2. My only real comment is that the ranking on the first page is unclear, you put the N5095 at the top when in reality it was worst to best. So I started the article wondering why the ranking was backwards. Perhaps some refinement to qualify the order of the ranking could improve it a bit!

  3. Hello everybody,

    I want to give you my input on this, I bought this one, to use it as a router (VM in Proxmox, PCI passthrough), besides a router, I will host a Pihole, Home assistant, and an Unifi Controller, so 4 VM in total.
    Also, I got a micro PC(Noname as this one) with just two NICs to do the same.
    For the 4 ports I got branded memory and SSD, and for the 2 ports, I got it populated with Noname memory and SSD.
    BOTH of them are not stable, the VM is crashing every few days, proxmox still works but the machines are crashing randomly, I disabled qemu guest agent and the crashes are happening half as much but still there, I have a lot of experience with proxmox with hundreds of VM hosted on it but I never saw this.
    I will ditch them and return to Dell/Lenovo mini and micro PCs, even if they are a few generations behind. before those, I had a Dell 3020 that ran for more than two years without problems.

    If you have thoughts please share them 🙂

    Thanks for reading, I hope it helps.

  4. I feel like I’m getting lost here.
    I want to ditch my UniFi USG-3 in favor of going more opensource with PfSense.

    I watched multiple of these fanless router videos so far and I still have no clue on what I should get.
    4 ports should be fine, or maybe even 2 port, for WAN and LAN as I can do VLANing on my switches. Or is there a benefit in having a dedicated LAN port for each VLAN?

    But I’m mainly getting lost at the CPU selection.
    Should I go for N6005, N5105, i7-1165G7, or one of the i3/i5 options?
    The system would probably run PfSense directly, maybe via Proxmox so I can save a back-up on my NAS. Some IDS/IPS would be nice, as well as VPN. PiHole already runs on my fanless Docker box (N5095).

  5. I installed a protectelli (not sure of spelling) pfSense for my brother. Mostly game traffic (3 consoles, 720p streaming to multiple devices, then phones, and pc’s etc). Pretty sure we did the 4 port intel atom or something like that (not high end is the point). It does a great job and there are no regrets other than should have bought one for me too. It’s nice to have 4 ports.

  6. Good article, it certainly doesn’t make any sense to upgrade these kind of PC’s with a Celeron.
    I personally bought a Geekom Mini Air 11 with the N5095 and the only thing I did was upgrade RAM to 16Gb by adding a 8Gb stick to get dual channel. I really don’t think it actually had much affect. I also think Windows 11 runs fine up to a point, but I think a more efficient Linux distro probably works better for these tiny PC’s. I do think you get some advantage with 4 cores now rather then the Celeron’s with only two.

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