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I don’t know what’s in the water in China, but PC makers there continue to crank out “soft router” mini PCs that pack a whole lot of Ethernet ports into a compact computer. We’ve seen systems with up to six 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports before, but now Topton is selling a new model with support for as many as eight 2.5 GbE ports.

Or if you’re willing to trade a few ports for even higher speeds, you can opt for a model with four 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports and two 10 GbE SFP cages. The new Topton Soft Router is available with 8th-gen or 10th-gen Intel Core processor options, and it’s available now from AliExpress for $338 and up.

The starting price will get you a barebones model with an Intel Core i3-8145UE processor, eight 2.5 GbE ports, and no memory, storage, or operating system.

All systems feature four Intel I226-V 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports plus an expansion card for additional ports: Models with eight ports feature a card with four additional Intel I226-V ports, while models with six ports come with an Intel 82599ES expansion card that adds two 10 GbE ports.

Here’s the pricing for barebones configurations:

  • Core i3-8145UE processor and 8 x 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports for $338
  • Core i3-8145UE processor and 4 x 2.5 GbE Ethernet + 2 x 10 GbE for $358
  • Core i5-10210U processor and 8 x 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports for $408
  • Core i5-10210U processor and 4 x 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports + 2 x 10 GbE for $427
  • Core i7-10510U processor and 8 x 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports for $427
  • Core i7-10510U processor and 4 x 2.5 GbE Ethernet ports + 2 x 10 GbE for $447

It doesn’t cost much more to deck the systems out with memory and storage: a top-of-the-line model with a Core i7 processor, 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage will set you back $624.

Or you can bring your own: there are two SODIMM slots with support for up to 64GB of total DDR4-2666 memory, an M.2 2280 slot for PCIe 3.0 x1 solid state storage, and 6 SATA 3.0 interfaces that can be used to add hard drives or SSDs (although I’m not sure how many will actually fit inside the computer’s 154.6 x 154.6 x 60mm (6.1″ x 6.1″ x 2.4″) aluminum chassis.

Other features include HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2, and 3.5mm audio jacks, four USB 3.0 Type-A ports, an RJ45 COM console port, a fan for active cooling.

While the AliExpress product page says the Topton Soft Router can be configured with Windows 11 Pro or Windows 10 Pro OEM software, it’s unclear if you’d get an active windows license (some Chinese PC makers cut costs by shipping devices with unactivated versions of Windows). And honestly, given this device’s design, I’d imagine more folks would want to use an operating system designed for networking, firewall, or network-attached storage applications, such as pfSense, Proxmox, or OpenWrt… although it’s unclear whether those operating systems will support all of the hardware in this device.

via CNX Software

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  1. Let’s see how long until we see “Shocking discovery: security researchers found chinese soft routers packed with persistent malware, used to psy on businesses”

  2. You don’t want to know what’s in the water in the PRC. But I don’t think it’s pollution that is driving this. They have access to relatively cheap processors and chipsets. These aren’t Alder Lake-N (12th gen efficiency cores, which are essentially 7th generation cores that are much much more efficient and run it six watts). These are 15 w systems using processors and chipsets that are on the verge of being obsolete. Manufacturers are finding uses for them.

  3. By definition, that fan is not a turbine, even if they’re saying it is to make it sound cooler.