In our series of fanless firewalls, we have seen two regular requests. One is for 10GbE units, and the other is for reviews of units based on AMD. Today, we have the AMD Ryzen 7 5825U-based machine that has been a hot topic with its 4x 2.5GbE ports. As we reviewed this unit, we found a lot to like but also many funky features that we did not expect. We found enough that we changed our publishing order to get this review out earlier than planned.
AMD Ryzen 4x 2.5GbE Background
As we have been doing with this series, we have a video that you can find here:
This was done on the new set, so we could show the overhead view on this one. We always suggest watching the video in its own window, tab, or app for a better viewing experience.
The unit itself was a top-bin unit. The barebones were around $435 via KingNovyPC and Topton on AliExpress. Stepping down to the AMD Ryzen 7 5800U saves around $17. The Ryzen 5 5600U is about $90 less than the unit we reviewed, albeit with fewer cores.
We also configured this unit with 16GB of DDR4-3200 and a 512GB NVMe SSD for a total price of $555. That is firmly in “Mini PC” pricing and less in the <$250 router/firewall range.
We found that the configuration we purchased was severely constraining performance, but we also found hidden features and specs on AliExpress that were conflicting and often did not make sense between sellers reselling this unit.
In the video, we showed the system running OPNsense 22.7, pfSense 2.7-development, Proxmox VE, Ubuntu Desktop, and Windows 11. The biggest challenge was the compatibility of the Intel i226-V 2.5GbE NICs.
With that, let us get to the hardware.
AMD Ryzen 4x 2.5GbE External Hardware Overview
On the front of the unit we get a power button and two blanks for WiFi antenna posts. We also get a TF slot. In this case, the TF slot is a MicroSD card slot without the vendor paying for licensing the MicroSD name. There are five USB ports. The four Type-A ports are split between USB 2 and 3.
The Type-C port is perhaps the most interesting. This is actually a third display output, and one can power the device via this Type-C port as well.
The back of the unit has an HDMI and DisplayPort output. That means we get a total of three 4k60 display outputs on this little machine designed to be a firewall/router.
Next to these, we get four 2.5GbE ports. These are powered by the new Intel i226-V 2.5GbE NICs. Generally, compatibility is good but if you want to use the current pfSense 2.6 that will be a challenge. pfSense 2.7-development is a development branch, but it includes support. Our Windows 11 installation required drivers to be added post-installation. Overall though, OSes like Proxmox VE, OPNsense, and Ubuntu worked well with the NICs.
This unit may confuse some as it has a metal case with ribbing, but do not be confused: it is not fanless. The top of the chassis has a cutout for the CPU fan.
The sides would look solid if we had a black background.
But in reality, both sides have waiting. One is a system vent, while the other is for the CPU heatsink/fan exhaust.
The bottom has rubber feet and mounting points for a 2.5″ drive. We would suggest not using the 2.5″ drive mounting since that would block airflow to the memory and storage. Instead, our unit comes with a fan. We would suggest this is a useful feature that helps keep SSD and memory cool.
Next, let us get inside the chassis.