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LAN & WAN Reviews

Performance

SonicWall told me that their #1 goal for the new TZ series is performance, which I found was a weak spot on the TZ190W I reviewed several years ago.

Both the TZ190W and the TZ100W use Cavium Networks CPUs, but the TZ100W uses Cavium's newer 300 MHz 64-bit Octeon Processor over the TZ190W's Nitrox processor.  In my testing, it appears this Octeon processor is a significant improvement over the Nitrox processor.

SonicWall's goal for the TZ100W is to maintain 30-50 Mbps of throughput with the UTM features enabled between separate zones.  To test this, I ran iperf TCP throughput tests in both directions between the LAN and WAN zones and compared the results to those I measured in my review of the Zyxel USG100. 

As you can see in the column labeled UTM ON in Table 1, the TZ100W ran 31.2 - 31.4 Mbps throughput between the LAN and WAN zones.   By comparison, throughput on the Zyxel USG100 with all UTM features ON was only 16 - 17 Mbps.  Further, in the column labeled UTM OFF in Table 1, the TZ100W's throughput was between 71 and 87 Mbps

Routing Throughput

Table 1: Routing Throughput

Closing Thoughts

I asked SonicWall to name the main competitors to the TZ100W, and they listed the Fortinet 30B and Watchguard X55E.  I haven't had the opportunity to review these two devices, so I poked around their websites a bit. 

Neither of these products appears to fully match up with the TZ100W.  Fortinet's website rates the 30B with only 10 Mbps of throughput for a key UTM feature,  Anti-Virus filtering.  The Watchguard X55E   seems  a bit more comparable to the TZ100W, but its wireless network only supports 802.11b/g, not 802.11b/g/n and its VPN throughput is rated for a maximum of 35 Mbps.

The previous UTM devices I've reviewed include the SonicWall's TZ190W, the D-Link CPG310, and the Zyxel USG100. The TZ100W replaces the TZ180W, which was a step below the TZ190W.  Still the TZ100W is a significant boost in performance over both the TZ180 and TZ190 as both were only rated for up to 10 Mbps UTM throughput. 

Further, the TZ100W outclasses all three of these devices I've reviewed with a 3DES VPN throughput rating of 75 Mbps.  Even the 11.9 Mbps 3DES VPN throughput I measured far outclasses the TZ190W, CPG310 and USG100's 1-1.5 Mbps 3DES VPN throughput.

Conspicuously absent from Sonicwall's list of competitive products is NETGEAR's new UTM10, which is aiming squarely at the same market as the TZ100W is. I'll be reviewing it shortly and it will be interesting to see how NETGEAR has approached the challenge of creating a low cost, high performance UTM.

The list price on the TZ100W is $295.00, which is a pretty amazing price point for all the features this router includes.  Take a look at Table 2 showing the latest pricing information from Pricegrabber on the Fortinet, Watchguard and Zyxel routers.  I didn’t list the  CPG310, since that product reached end of life on 8/1/09.

Competitive pricing summary

Table 2: Competitive pricing summary

The security and support services for the TZ100W are subscription based, so buying the router for $295 isn't the final tally.  Below are SonicWall's list prices on 1 year subscriptions for the key features of the TZ100W.  Longer term subscriptions and bundles provide discounts, but Table 3 below should give you a good understanding of the costs.

TZ100W Option pricing

Table 3: TZ100W Option pricing

As you can see, the subscription fees for the key UTM features on the TZ100W add up to hundreds of dollars per year.  But when you consider that network security has become a key priority for our government, and is a growing concern for all networks connected to the Internet,  the cost becomes more palatable.

In a recent article from the Associated Press, former national intelligence director Michael McConnell stated the Internet "is the soft underbelly" of the U.S. today. Speaking at a new cybersecurity exhibit at the International Spy Museum in Washington, McConnell said the Internet has "introduced a level of vulnerability that is unprecedented."

The article goes on to recommend several key security steps to protect against the threats our networks face every day.  Those steps include Anti-Virus solutions, spam filters, parental controls or content filters, regular backups, and thinking twice before sending information over the Internet, “particularly when using wireless or unsecured public networks.”

I found the SonicWall TZ100W, along with SonicWall's CDP 110 for regular backups, provides a nice solution for all these key security steps and I liked the TZ100W's flexible port options and configuration capabilities.  The TZ100W's stability and performance are also significantly improved over SonicWall's previous UTM products.  And kudos to SonicWall for hitting their goal on performance numbers; the TZ100W has the best UTM and VPN performance levels of any router I've tested to date.  In summary, for small networks looking for an affordable Unified Threat Management solution, the TZ100W has everything you need.

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