Intel x86 n100/n200/n300 mini device recommendations

I guess, intel pentium n100/n200/n300 (alder lake, 12gen, intel 7nm tec, introduced 2023) is a recent sweet spot in 2024 for low power affordable fanless x86 mini devices with two or more 2.5gbit/s ports.

I just saw a HUNSN RS52 at amazon, but I do not have practical experience with it.

  • 4x Intel 2.5GbE I226-V, no PoE
  • 1x SODIMM DDR4, max 32gb
  • 1x M2 2280 (looks like Key m, PCI)
  • 1x M2 2230 for WiFi/4G
  • vendor says 6W idle power
  • USB2/3/c, HDMI, DP
  • fanless
  • price for smallest variant is 234€ (4GBRAM/64GBSSD), not at all an ugly price for premium-price-country Germany

drawbacks that make me shy away:

  • HUNSN though has a web site, but the RS52 model is not listed there (maybe too new?)
  • it seems the vendor offers no BIOS update support at all for any of its devices. But proxmox dicussion groups talk about n100 opcodes to be buggy (just like all new intel CPUs), so it seems like you might really want decent UEFI BIOS update support.
  • it seems (at least via amazon.de) it gets shipped via China directly, so potentially a complex situation, if you need to refund it for reasons.

unknown:

  • does its UEFI have „autoboot on power on“?
  • how bugfree is the UEFI regarding higher c-states and p-states - so not sure, how reliable the power consumption statement is.

Does anyone have any practical experience or other interesting n100/n200/n300 mini devices to recommend?

My only request would be, please make it n100/n200/n300 mini devices with at least 2x RJ45 in this thread.

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review, I've got a previous version of a CWWK device and the BIOS was updated a few times before they moved on to the the current iteration of devices.

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Many thanks. Very interesting, the devices of cwwk.net and hunsn look super similar.
But as you mentioned, the cwwk web page has a proper service link which points to a chinese URL, where lots of device firmware updates are available for download.

so Hunsn is either just an OEM reseller of cwwk (or cwwk and hunsn are both OEM reseller of the same device manufacturer)

I have also been thinking of getting a N100. But same concern as you. But if you only need 2 lan ports, and hopefully Asus get updates, you could buy ASUS PN42. I believe the price is 324eur on Amazon. So less ports for more money, but “safe”.

These are all made in china fanless units. If you go to Aliexpress and search for firewall appliance N100, you can get them for around USD140. I was doing the same research yesterday and just bought the N5105 unit with the 226-V intel LAN chip. Already shipped, not bad! Lots of youtube videos on these units. Plan is to run Opnsense on Proxmox.

I just got one of these Beelink models, I'm now using it as a pfsense box, it replaced a clunky old x86 dinosaur.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C339KVH9?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details
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Have someone saw board with this cpu but with dual 10gb nic? Or pcie x4 3.0?

GoWin R86S, Topton also has one (but the PCI-E bandwidth is an issue)

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I would need to pay additional import tax in Germany and certain handling fees for that, if I would order from Aliexpress. For me, it is not just the shown price sadly (on top having a more questionable warrenty on China purchases)

N5105 is the older gen 11 CPU. the successor N100 is said to have about 33% higher single core computing power, which helps more for OpenWRT.

I have the "HUNSN RJ36" version and added RAM and SSD from Crucial. As previously mentioned, I guess all these fanless mini PCs are from China and can be bought from various places under different names with variants of the aluminium housing. I bought mine from Amazon for tax reasons as I'm in the EU.

The mini PC itself is excellent and I've had no issues with it so far. Build quality is good and the UEFI from AMI works as expected. I'm currently running OPNsense acting as the firewall connecting 3x NWA50AX Pro access points running OpenWrt.

The CPU usage for the Intel N100 is rarely above 5%, normally pending 0-3 % for normal usage. CPU temperature average about 38 degrees Celsius.

My mini PC hardware setup is overkill for the tasks it currently do, but I'm satisfied:

1x Crucial P5 Plus 1TB PCIe M.2 2280SS Gaming SSD
1x Crucial 16GB DDR5-4800 SODIMM
4x 2.5GbE I226-V

I found this Youtube review helpful prior my decision to buy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58nVTNYrJ3E

Let me know if any further questions about the Intel N100 hardware.

Was there so far any BIOS update option on your HUNSN device? (as I dont seem to find any such downloads on their website?

I don't think so, but I've not actively checked, as everything is working as expected. The UEFI firmware shipped has plenty of options. To answer your "unknown" questions:

I just bought this and waiting for shipment, dual 2.5GBe and you can add 10G dual port card to slot.

...hangimg out of case...
Not a good idea imho

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Time to 3D print a holder.

I can't recommend enough the Chuwi Larkbox X for about $150-200 (all included with 12Gb of RAM).

It is remarkable and very reliable for the price.
In practice you can consider it fanless as I don't think I ever triggered the fan.

Cons are:

  • It only has 2 ethernet ports
  • no wake-on-lan

At the time I haven't tested the wifi because of https://github.com/openwrt/openwrt/issues/14025

I just grabbed one of those off ebay, haven't received it yet, but it was actually cheaper.
Open box thought.

If the plan was AP, you can skip the wait, it's probably going to be 802.11b kind of slow.

I wasn't hoping for much to be honest :sleepy:

Any suggestion on what to replace the AX wifi card with to be used in AP mode?

an AP or router :slight_smile:
cheaper, stable, gets you some extra ethernet ports.
an AX1800 router is ~$23, a corresponding AX wifi card won't be.

I just bought one of this, and thinking about how to mount external 10G dual port card.