From the beginning of the year I've activated a Gigabit connection via optic fiber to my house. My ISP gave me the possibility to use my own router installing an ONT: at the moment I'm using my Fritz!Box 3490, but I've started to think to an upgrade in order to get maximum performances.
I recently see this device on kickstarter https://www.zimaboard.com/ , I would like to know if it could be a good option, or if in order to get future proof performances I've to switch to a small PC.
I was looking to the quad core N3450 version.
Is it better a small PC with a 10 Gigabit nic?
This looks like it's just an x86 machine in a small form factor. It looks like an outstanding choice for that price. I just wonder if they're really delivering it and if its well designed and well supported, kickstarter projects vary a lot.
Dual Gb as well, that could take the forum by a storm if they deliver!
I recently got fiber connection at the house. I didn't want Cake struggling so went with an HP Elitedesk 800 G2 SFF ($104 off ebay). Intel i5-6500, DDR4, PCIe 3.0 so plenty of throughput headroom. I'd love to put an Intel X550-T2 10Gb card in it, but can't find one with a yottamark for under $300.
Cool device. Yes, I would like to know which network chip has the Zimaboard, due to its price I unfortunately bet on Realtek...
Look for used Dell 57810S instead, 15% of the X550-T2s price (at least on eBay US).
Other HW vendors might have cheaper X550 cards too, the HPE version (562T) is at least $50 less than intels' ditto.
Does Realtek really matter that much? I don't think it's rocket science to make GbE these days. Or is it a question of Linux driver reliability?
at one point Realtek drivers weren't reliable, but in my experience that was a while ago. Today you can get perfectly fine performance out of Realtek NICs on linux.
The persisting prejudices against realtek mostly stem from their 10- (rtl8029) and 100 MBit/s (rtl8039) chipsets - and to a large extent their windows drivers. The current r8168 (PCIe)/ r8169 (legacy PCI) chipsets are working quite well. With very new chipset designs (by now there are around 70 slightly differing ones under the r8169 umbrella driver) it might take a while, until support is fully merged (but that usually gets sorted rather quickly, in mainline - it might take a little longer to trickle down to OpenWrt).
 The windows rtl8139 drivers were slow (6-7 MByte/s), the linux drivers could achieve full throughput, but taxed the CPU considerably more than better accelerated hardware like e.g. Intel e100.