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mini-pc: fanless, bare-bones, with four ethernet ports - good as a router (pfsense) ~$200

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 6th, 2022 2:04 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Sep 13, 2004
4171 posts
1613 upvotes
Toronto

mini-pc: fanless, bare-bones, with four ethernet ports - good as a router (pfsense) ~$200

Deal Link:
Price:
192.23
Retailer:
aliexpress.com
Some of us like to run our own router software. For example, pfsense. (I use Fedora or CentOS.) For that, you need more than one network interface. Most mini-pcs only have one ethernet interface.

This box seems to have good features and is and cheap. But being from the AliExpress world, one never knows how good it is. I imagine that the biggest risk is that the cooling isn't satisfactory.

Why is this computer notable?
  • four ethernet interfaces
  • ethernet interfaces use Intel chips
  • ethernet speed is 2.5G
  • low power CPU (jasper Lake generation of Atom processor)
  • CPU has AES-NI for crypto accelleration (older Atom processors often lacked this)
  • two empty DDR4 SODIMM sockets support up to 64GiB of RAM
  • one full-sized NVMe socket
  • one 2.5" SATA bay
  • no fan / low power

I just bought one with no RAM, no SSD, and no OS. I don't trust the quality of the vendor's SSDs.

This has no WiFi interface; I use separate Wireless Access Points for that.

AliExpress charged me $178.19. I don't actually know how I qualified for an additional discount. You might too. AliExpress does have some kind of site-wide sale that expires at the end of July 1, in some timezone ([US] Pacific Time, I think). The price fluctuates with our currency. I think we are charged a bit more for paying in C$ as opposed to US$.

Update: The sale is now over. The price went up to C$203.59. There is currently a vendor coupon for $3.95. @frugalcanuck found a 10% off coupon that worked for him. See aliexpress-com-mini-pc-fanless-bare-bon ... #p36243568

Shipping is free so it is unlikely to be via courier.

Note: there are better boxes. The ones I've seen are more expensive. See https://www.servethehome.com/cheap-inte ... er-review/ That one has a faster variant of the Jasper Lake processor.

My current routers use Zotac Zbox mini-PCs. They work well but have only two ethernet ports and a slower Atom processor without AES-NI.
Last edited by Hugh on Jul 2nd, 2022 5:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
147 replies
Jr. Member
Jul 31, 2018
155 posts
116 upvotes
Can confirm these mini pc are good. Very low power usage and rock solid.
I just got the n6005 unit and stable.
Jr. Member
Jul 31, 2018
155 posts
116 upvotes
Seller took time with order and delayed shipment for 30days before shipment.. Once it hits China's post-office, it was quick across the ocean and got to me within a week.
Deal Expert
Feb 24, 2018
23649 posts
29705 upvotes
SteveWC wrote: Seller took time with order and delayed shipment for 30days before shipment.. Once it hits China's post-office, it was quick across the ocean and got to me within a week.
They're selling stock they don't immediately have, normal practice in many markets including China.
.
Jr. Member
Jul 31, 2018
155 posts
116 upvotes
redflagdealsguy wrote: They're selling stock they don't immediately have, normal practice in many markets including China.
Yeah really... Frigg.. 🤬
They play that silly head game..

I just make sure to order stuff from reputable sellers and use PayPal..
Jr. Member
Sep 20, 2013
171 posts
188 upvotes
Winnipeg
You can get a tiny PC (refurbished) from Bauer systems and use it as pfSense router with the single ethernet port if you have a switch that supports vlans, or add another ethernet port via a $15 usb dongle. That set up cost under $80 all-in.

And even a Celeron with 4gb of RAM is sufficient for ~200 VPN connections so for a home lab it would be fine.
Deal Addict
Feb 5, 2008
1147 posts
444 upvotes
Abbotsford
OP can you please put the price in the title
Member
Sep 10, 2002
342 posts
36 upvotes
Vancouver
Sorry to hijack this thread with alternatives, but I'm quite surprised that the new Rockchip RK3568B2 based boards have not been mentioned on this forum.....especially by @lead :)

NanoPi R5S: https://www.friendlyelec.com/index.php? ... uct_id=287

More options listed here: https://forum.openwrt.org/t/r68s-a-new- ... /126023/14

Will it run OPNsense or pfsense, not likely, but given time, I wouldn't be surprised to see images for OpenWrt.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 18, 2009
3858 posts
1013 upvotes
Toronto
KillaB wrote: Sorry to hijack this thread with alternatives, but I'm quite surprised that the new Rockchip RK3568B2 based boards have not been mentioned on this forum.....especially by @lead :)

NanoPi R5S: https://www.friendlyelec.com/index.php? ... uct_id=287

More options listed here: https://forum.openwrt.org/t/r68s-a-new- ... /126023/14

Will it run OPNsense or pfsense, not likely, but given time, I wouldn't be surprised to see images for OpenWrt.
opnsense and pfsense does not run on ARM chips
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 18, 2009
3858 posts
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Toronto
good price. i have one that's 95% the same as OP's but uses gemini lake processor (one generation older cpu). using it for pfsense without issues.

pro-tip: apply your own thermal compound to bring down the temps even further. the stock one sucks.

my only beef with OP's unit is that a nvme SSD might be an overkill for pfsense. i would have wished that it has a msata ssd slot instead (which are relatively cheaper to find)

for ram 4GB should be enough, but 8GB is recommended if you want to use resource-intensive plugins such as ntopng, snort/Suricata, pfBlockerNG with TLD blacklist etc all at the same time

im looking into getting a backup one in case my current one fails, currently eyeing this one for $171 with slightly lesser specs: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004149374376.html
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Apr 18, 2009
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KillaB wrote: That's why I said "not likely".
Of course if you want it enough, you could try here: https://forum.opnsense.org/index.php?topic=12186.0
i honestly cannot see how ntop/snort/suricata/ will run well on an ARM processor, at least at this moment in time. by nature they are very resource intensive and i don't think current ARM chips can handle them

for standard routing stuff like openwrt, ya ARM can handle it just fine. but if you want to do more advanced stuff, gotta go with standard x86 CPUs
Jr. Member
Jul 31, 2018
155 posts
116 upvotes
I love these little gadget boxes.. My company does embedded developments with them for different projects and found them to be very stable.
A refurb PC just won't do and won't impress any clients... I'd be laughed out of a project if I use something used..
I can resell a turnkey solution 100x more with this unit than a Kijiji used PC.. LOL.

At home, I tested pfsense fully loaded with snort, pfblockers, OpenVPN and many bells/whistles.. It doesn't break a sweat to worry me.

The new 2.5 Gbps i225 Intel NiC interest me a lot as broadbands from carriers are pushing beyond 1Gbps..

I don't mind blowing some coins to R/D PoC these for my business.. Everyone's use case is different..
Images
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Last edited by SteveWC on Jun 30th, 2022 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Jr. Member
Jul 31, 2018
155 posts
116 upvotes
chroma_cg wrote: i honestly cannot see how ntop/snort/suricata/ will run well on an ARM processor, at least at this moment in time. by nature they are very resource intensive and i don't think current ARM chips can handle them

for standard routing stuff like openwrt, ya ARM can handle it just fine. but if you want to do more advanced stuff, gotta go with standard x86 CPUs
Right.. One would need a x86 processor to handle CPU intensive functions..
Deal Guru
User avatar
Nov 21, 2002
11362 posts
3743 upvotes
Winnipeg
KillaB wrote: Sorry to hijack this thread with alternatives, but I'm quite surprised that the new Rockchip RK3568B2 based boards have not been mentioned on this forum.....especially by @lead :)

NanoPi R5S: https://www.friendlyelec.com/index.php? ... uct_id=287

More options listed here: https://forum.openwrt.org/t/r68s-a-new- ... /126023/14

Will it run OPNsense or pfsense, not likely, but given time, I wouldn't be surprised to see images for OpenWrt.
I would go for the nanopi r4s(a72/a53 six core) for 50 usd and be sure to request china post thru email before buying to drop shipping price. Its a much more powerful soc than the rk3568B2(a55 soc quad core) plus has stable running builds. The R4s would be able to traffic shape with sqm_Cake at gigabit rates with plenty of extra cores for alot of other stuff and aes support. The rk3568 may offer 2.5gb ports but once your shaping all traffic by cpu with no hardware accel? It would max at gigabit rates but with just f_codel shaping. Extrememly doubtful at gigabit rates with sqm_cake not unless its overclocked at +2ghz per core sustained. Its just too much for a53/a55socs regardless of brand to do sqm_cake.

That said the rpi 4 2gb and the tplink u300 usb adapter is tried tested and works very well and solid builds by openwrt community. It can do gigabit traffic shaping on just 2 cores and pihole etc. The downside it doesn't have aes crpyto extensions for vpn. But ....any tv box can run a vpn server with linux in docker. Like s905x tv boxes etc
Sr. Member
May 29, 2004
513 posts
146 upvotes
How does the duty work on aliexpress.com?
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 18, 2009
3858 posts
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Toronto
Hugh wrote: AliExpress charged me $178.19. I don't actually know how I qualified for an additional discount. You might too.
i just did a test with a different product, it seems to apply an additional discount only at the checkout screen under "spend & save". my subtotal was $191.23 and after discount it was $179.37, with the "spend & save" deduction being -$11.86, which is inline with OP's final amount

details here: https://sale.aliexpress.com/[email protected]/ ... rguide.htm
Deal Addict
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Apr 18, 2009
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ratudio wrote: How does the duty work on aliexpress.com?
if the seller ships with DHL (which is the same as UPS/fedex) , you are pretty much guaranteed to pay brokerage fees/taxes

if it says something like standard aliexpress shipping, pretty much no duty/taxes for small items, this PC included.
Deal Fanatic
Sep 16, 2013
6226 posts
4096 upvotes
SW ON
SteveWC wrote: Seller took time with order and delayed shipment for 30days before shipment.. Once it hits China's post-office, it was quick across the ocean and got to me within a week.
It could have been due to the lockdowns they had.

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