Protectli vs Qotom comparison – does this pfSense box support AES-NI?

Protectli vs Qotom comparison
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Protectli vs Qotom Specs

Protectli Specs

  • Band Protectli
  • Product Dimensions 4.5 x 4.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Item Dimensions LxWxH 4.5 x 4.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Hardware Platform Linux
  • Operating System Windows
  • Computer Memory Type DDR3 SDRAM
  • Flash Memory Size 120 GB
  • Item Weight 2.33 pounds
  • Color Black
  • Processor Brand Intel
  • Processor Count 1
  • Hard Drive Interface Ethernet_10Base-T
  • Batteries 1 CR2 batteries required.

Qotom Specs

Processor System

  • AES-NI: Yes
  • Lithography: 22nm
  • Power Consumption: TDP 15W
  • Audio Solution: Realtek ALC662 HD Audio
  • Integrated Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • LAN Chipset: 4 x Intel I211-AT Gigabit LAN
  • CPU: Intel Haswell Core i3-4005U SOC Processor, Dual Core, 3M Cache, 1.70 GHz

Environmental

  • Operating Temp: 0°C~50°C
  • Non-Operating Temp: -20°C~80°C
  • Humidity: 10%~90%
  • Cooling Mode: Fanless Design

Front I/O

  • 1 x Power on/off Button
  • 1 x COM (RS-232)
  • 1 x HD Video
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0

Rear I/O

  • 1 x DV 12V DC Input
  • 1 x Power LED
  • 1 x HDD LED
  • 4 x Intel RJ-45 for Gigabit LAN
  • 1 x Speak Out Connector
  • 1 x Mic In Connector

Memory

Support 1 x DDR3L SO-DIMM Socket, Non-ECC Memory

(1.35V, Up to 8G, 1333/1600MHz)

Hard Disk

Support 1 x Mini-PCIe for mSATA SSD

Support 1 x 2.5″ SATA SSD/HDD

WiFi

Support 1 x Half-length Mini-PCIe for Wi-Fi Module (Mini-PCIe-PCIe Signal by default).

If with WiFi, it contains 1 x WiFi card + 2 x Antennas.

OS

  • We pre-install Unactivated Windows 10 in English for test without any Windows license.
  • Support Windows, Linux, pfSense, Sophos, VyOS, Linux iptables, CentOS, Untangle, etc.
  • F11 key boot from USB Drive, Delete key enter into BIOS.

Mini PCI-e slot on Motherboard

  1. Full-length Mini PCI-e slot (Part 1) only supports mSATA SSD.
  2. Half-length Mini PCI-e slot (Part 2) is only for WiFi (/Bluetooth).
  3. Full-length Mini PCI-e slot (Part 3) is only for 3G/4G module.
  4. SO-DIMM slot (Part 4) is only for DDR3L RAM.

Compare Protectli vs Qotom mini PC Pfsense

Protectli Vault 4 Port, Firewall Micro Appliance/Mini PC Qotom-Q575G6-S05 Fanless Desktop Computer Mini PC
Computer Memory Size8 GB16 GB
CPU ModelCeleronCore i7
CPU Speed1.60 GHz2.70 GHz
Graphics Coprocessorintegrated_graphics
Graphics Descriptionintegrated
Hard Disk Size120 GB128 GB
Hardware PlatformLinuxPC
Operating SystemWindowsWindows
Processor Count12

What is the key difference – Protectli vs Qotom?

Build

Protectli

This micro-appliance is very nicely built and packaged. I really like the case design and it looks very professional-grade, finned aluminum with vents and black paint finish. 

Qotom

The device is sturdy and well built.. Very compact little computer, perfect for building an Untangle firewall. It does not heat much, but since I put it inside a closet, I still bought a small fan to put on top and keep it cool. 

PFsense

Protectli

I tweaked PFsense to near perfect before placing it on the LAN. I went into the actiontec, copied out the WAN MAC, released the WAN IP and shut it down for the last time. I went back to PFsense, emulated the actiontec MAC on the WAN port and connected up the Ethernet cable from my ONT (it was already set for ethernet, never used MOCA). Boom, was able to ping outside. I also had to buy a MOCA to Ethernet bridge for my three set-top boxes. This is all working great, and I’m very happy with the setup!

Qotom

Works very well as a Pfsense firewall for a gigabit connection. With 8GB ram and a 32GB SSD has plenty of horsepower for running all kinds of antivirus, proxy, IDS, and DNS blockers. The only real complain is a lack of option in BIOS to for automatic start on power-on (for turning itself on after a power outage). For something built as a networking appliance, that’s a major oversight, especially given a myriad of other BIOS options.

Installation

Protectli

Install from USB stick was very easy, and within the hour I was configured and online.
I got the 4-port unit in anticipation of adding another sub-network for DEV and Test networks, but supply routing in-between. I think this will work nicely with all 4 ports active.
So far, SpeedTest throughput has been in the 700Mb / sec range on Spectrum (Supposed to be 1GB but rate varies in my neighborhood. All inspection filters were active during these tests. More testing on-the-horizon.

Qotom

Installed Untangle firewall, was working great until it essentially locked up. After restart, gave non recoverable fsck error. I turned on SMART in the bios and it says the ssd is dead. fsck code 251. Tried reinstall and freezes attempting to write the partition table.
It was passing >930Mb both directions with IPS enabled – so I’m very happy with the board’s performance.

Performance

Protectli

Three PCs all downloading Final Fantasy XV (two hard wired, one WiFi), an Xbox One X and Xbox One downloading Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (one hard wired, one WiFi), and four Samsung Tab S6 Lites streaming Avengers: Endgame over Disney+. Max CPU usage was around 40%.

Qotom

This little device worked far better than I had expected. I currently have Verizon FIOS and needed a router that ran PFSense for configuring certain firewall rules (it does)- getting 871.75 / 865.54 Mbps, which occasionally peaks over 900 on both. For a low power device, this has a phenomenal performance. Constant running temp is 27.9C. Added 8gb memory and SATA SSD with two M.2 slots to spare. 

Alternate – Protectli vs Qotom

Netgate

Netgate is the best place to go for an out of the box, fully working and supported solution. They are the maintainers of pfSense and they directly sell a couple of relatively affordable models appropriate for home users:

Netgate SG-3100
Netgate SG-3100

SG-2100 – This model is a step up from the SG-1100. It has 1 WAN ports and 4 LAN ports (which can be used for multi-WAN), as well as more processing power and RAM. If you are looking for higher throughput and running more packages this option might be more suitable.

SG-1100 – This model has 3-gigabit ports which means you can use this for a multi-WAN or VLANs. It’s fairly low powered but suitable for most home applications unless you plan on running a lot of intensive packages.

SG-3100 – This model is similar to the SG-2100 but, more powerful (and thus more expensive) with an additional WAN port. If you have a large network, a fast ISP, and want to run IPS/IDS with VPN this will definitely get the job done.

With your own hardware, you can choose to install other OSs if you change your mind. That said, Netgate products are a great option if you are looking for a turnkey solution.

You can customize storage and purchase support when buying directly from Netgate. However, for the cost of the SG-3100, you can get some pretty good hardware on your own.

Editor’s recommendations