Really looking forward to seeing your full review on this box. I'd love to see your impressions. I know you've got a lot in the queue right now but this thing is potentially really interesting.
Being impatient, of course, I went ahead and bought one. Initial impressions after playing with it for less than 24 hours:
- I bought it on Ali from the Mii store. Used standard shipping and it arrived in 18 days (ordered Nov 11, arrived Nov 29). I don't think I've ever gotten anything through Ali any faster, even using DHL shipping options. No idea how that happened!
- I got the "g3" version, N6005 with the 2x 10Gbe NICs.
- Its packaged really professionally. Not that packaging is important to its operation, but it does show some care regarding the product. Double boxed, with the inside box being a fairly well done "store shelf ready" look. Actually thought it compared well with Apple's packaging.
- The r86s itself looks and feels well engineered. The design is much more thoroughly thought through and implemented better than most of the other small 2.5g router systems people here have been looking at. The power block appears to be high quality, though I lack the tools you have to really test it.
- It came with OpenWRT loaded on the embedded eMMC. I didn't do more than just boot it. It did boot and if OpenWRT is what you are after it looks like it should work right out of the box.
- I popped in a random NVMe drive and installed Proxmox 7.3. All three 2.5g nics (i225) and both 10g nics recognized right out of the box. The 10g nics identify as Mellanox ConnectX-4 (nice!) and the dmesg logs suggest they have Infiniband capability enabled (interesting, though there really isn't much of a use case for 10g Infiniband).
- Base stress testing suggests their cooling solution is really good. Running Prime95 for over 2 hours the CPU temps settled around 56c and after an initial startup jump never got over 61c. With all four cores loaded they settled in to an all-core turbo of 2.4ghz and were stable at that speed for the entire test run. There was some interesting behavior when the test was launched - for about the first 30 seconds all four cores jumped to between 3.2-3.6ghz and temps spiked to ~75c, but then everything settled in and speeds/temps quickly stabilized below 60c.
- Also noticed that a single core stress test turbo'd that core to 3.6ghz and held it there consistently as long as not much was going on with the other cores. I found that interesting since the specs on ARC show max burst speed of 3.3ghz for the N6005.
- I did some rudimentary network speed tests (just using iperf3). The 2.5g ports delivered as expected (~2.47g). The 10g ports also delivered expected speeds (~9.87g). I did test iperf3 to both 10g ports simultaneously with no degradation - both delivering 9.8+gbps. Note that I did not have to use multi-threaded tests to get these speeds - single thread iperf was fine (though I do have 9000 byte jumbo frames enabled). That was the limit of the network testing I could do without setting up some special configs. I'd love to see what happens if you try simultaneous 10g full duplex tests - at that point I think the PCIe 3.0 x4 interconnect to the Mellanox daughter card would limit you to something around 30gps net transfer speed rather than the 40ish that 2 10gbe full-duplex links would require.
- Regarding the fans (yes - plural): there is a second fan on the bottom cooling the 10gbe board. That wasn't obvious from the stuff online. Even when stress testing the fans were very quiet. Not completely un-noticeable but nothing that we bother me even if it was sitting right next to me on a desk.
- Last note: the G3 comes with WiFi+BT too. That's not too useful for me so I really didn't test it. It uses an Intel AX201 which is a pretty high-end laptop card, dual band with WiFi 6 / Bluetooth 5.2 and supports 2x2 MIMO. They also included two small "stubby" antenna. If you do need WiFi and/or BT this seems to be pretty well done too. The only thing better would be for it to be WiFi 6E, but that is a tall ask.
Overall, first impressions only, this thing is pretty awesome! Only two drawbacks for me are the small(ish) 16gb soldered RAM and, of course, the price is at the top end of the class for this type of box. But first impressions suggest to me that it is worth the price. And nothing else in this price class even offers the option of 10gbe.
All that a rather long post to let you know how much I am looking forward to your full review.