The Best Hardware Firewall Review & Buyers Guide

The Best Hardware Firewall Review & Buyers Guide in 2021 collects full reviews of the best hardware firewalls poised as ideal cybersecurity solutions for businesses. However, as there are numerous hardware firewall solutions in the market today, this guide also helps you select and buy the most recommended with consideration to your budget and needs.

This guide also assists you to where you can purchase the best hardware firewall based on your business requirements. The Best Hardware Firewall Review & Buyers Guide in 2021 has all that you are looking for when planning to buy the right hardware firewall solution.

Comparison Of The 5 Best-selling Hardware Firewall Products

Here’s a quick glimpse of our list of recommended hardware firewall solutions and some of their features and specifications that you might want to compare.

Product Firewall Throughput Max New Sessions Per Second Max Concurrent Sessions Integrated I/O Serial Ports Form Factor
FortiGate 80E
    
460Mbps 3000 1.3 million 12x Gigabit LAN Desktop
Read FortiGate Review
Cisco ASA-5508
    
450Mbps 10000 100000 8x Gigabit Ethernet LAN and USB Rackmount
Read Cisco Review
Palo Alto PA-200
    
500Mbps 1000 65000 4x Gigabit Ethernet LAN and USB Desktop
Read Palo Alto Review
SonicWall SOHO 250
    
600Mbps 3000 50000 3x Gigabit Ethernet LAN and USB Desktop
Read SonicWall Review
pfSense SG-1100
    
500Mbps NA 1 million 3x Gigabit Ethernet LAN and USB Desktop
Read pfSense Review

1. FortiGate Firewall 80E

No. 1 Best Choice

The FortiGate 80E performs deep inspection, moving beyond protocol and intrusion prevention. Designed to thwart harmful traffic, the 80E protects your data. This NGFW appliance prevents malicious and unauthorized access. The firewall solution does this through path-guided updates, signature matching, SSL decryption, and other more sophisticated malware-blocking strategies.

Fortinet’s FortiGate 80E comes in a fanless desktop form factor. In spite of its compact size, it employs secure SD-WAN and UTM technologies.

Key Features

  • FortiGuard Artificial Intelligence

Utilizing AI-powered Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs security services, the FortiGate 80E can identify thousands of apps. These apps include known and unknown malware as well as malicious websites in both encrypted and non-encrypted traffic.

  • Management Console

Easy to deploy and effective, FortiGate 80E’s Management Console delivers full network automation and visibility. The NGFW appliance offers Zero Touch Integration with Security Fabric’s Single Pane of Glass Management.

  • Security Processor Unit

Powered by a dedicated security processor unit (SPU), the FortiGate 80E delivers the industry’s best ultra-low latency threat protection performance for SSL encrypted traffic. SPU simplifies design without compromising on security.

  • Secure SD-WAN

Software-defined WAN is the application technology applied to WAN connections such as 4G, LTE, and broadband Internet. With this feature, we get high-speed application performance to connect to the cloud.

  • Unified Threat Management

UTM technology merges multiple security and networking functions with one unified appliance. One of the useful functions of UTM is deep packet inspection, web filtering, and auto-updates, making human intervention no longer required.

2. Cisco Firewall ASA-5508

No. 2 Best Choice

The Cisco ASA-5508, the industry’s first adaptive, threat-focused next-generation firewall (NGFW), offers threat defense and advanced malware protection for the new era. As a member of Cisco’s line of ASA hardware firewall with FirePOWER services, the ASA-5508 consolidates different security layers into a single platform.

The Cisco ASA-5508 entry-level NGFW system with FirePower services caters to small or midsize enterprises and branch offices. The ASA-5508 integrates a set of eight Gigabit Ethernet interfaces and comes with 80GB solid-state drive (SSD) for storage.

Key Features

  • Next-generation Firewall

Industry’s first threat-focused NGFW; provides ASA firewall functionality, advanced threat protection, rich routing, dynamic clustering, and advanced breach detection and remediation combined in a single device.

  • Advanced Malware Protection

Superior threat prevention and mitigation for both known and unknown threats. Detection, blocking, tracking, analysis, and remediation to protect the enterprise against targeted and persistent malware attacks.

  • Full Contextual Awareness

Policy enforcement based on complete visibility of users, mobile devices, client-side applications, communication between virtual machines, vulnerabilities, threats, and URLs. Custom policies based on applications and URLs.

  • Purpose-built & Scalable

Highly scalable security appliance architecture that performs at up to multigigabit speeds. Consistent and robust security across branch, Internet edge, and data centers in physical and virtual environments.

  • Remote Access VPN

Extends secure corporate network access beyond corporate laptops to personal mobile devices, regardless of physical location. Support for Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Solution, with granular, application-level VPN capability.

3. Palo Alto Firewall PA-200

No. 3 Best Choice

Available in desktop form factor, the PA-200 brings to your business Palo Alto’s same PAN-OS features that protect large enterprise data centers. It includes high availability with active/active and active/passive modes.

The PA-200 provides you with interactive visibility and control of applications, users, and content at throughput speeds of up to 100Mbps. Adopting a fanless design and solid-state drive storage, the PA-200 delivers quiet operation and low power consumption.

With this hardware firewall, you get consistent power input for increased reliability.

Key Features

  • Palo Alto PAN-OS

Running on Palo Alto’s PAN-OS, the PA-200 classifies all traffic. This includes applications, content, and threat. These business elements and, more importantly, the user, serve as the basis of security policies with fast response time.

  • Application Classification

The PA-200 can classify applications, regardless of port, the evasive technique used, and encryption employed (SSH or SSL). This firewall appliance works all the time, focusing on the applications, including unidentified ones.

  • Protection Against All Threats

Once an application went fully classified, you can protect your network from a range of cyberattacks. The PA-200 enables you to allow specific applications and deny others to reduce the network threat footprint.

  • Versatile Compatibility

Extending its coverage, the PA-200 enforces security policies on both local and remote users. These policies consistently work regardless of the device’s platform, whether it’s Android, iOS, macOS or Windows.

  • Virtualized Sandbox

Capable of blocking known and unknown threats, the PA-200 prevents malware and exploits entering your network. By safely enabling non-work-related Internet activities, it effectively controls the transfer of unauthorized files and sensitive data.

4. SonicWall Firewall SOHO 250

No. 4 Best Choice

SOHO Series is an entry-level firewall that extends the kind of advanced threat protection that enterprises enjoy. It is packaged with an SMB-friendly price tag. Ideal for home offices, small offices, SMBs, distributed enterprises such as restaurant & retail chains.

SonicWall SOHO 250 TZ series enables small to mid-size organizations and distributed enterprises. Combining high-speed threat prevention and software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) technology with a wide range of networking and wireless features..

Key Features

  • RFDI Engine

This high-performance, proprietary, and patented inspection engine performs stream-based, bi-directional traffic analysis, without proxying or buffering, to uncover intrusion attempts and malware and to identify application traffic regardless of port.

  • Secure SD-WAN

An alternative to more expensive technologies such as MPLS, Secure SD-WAN enables distributed enterprise organizations to build, operate and manage secure, high-performance networks across remote sites for the purpose of sharing data.

  • Cloud-based Management

Configuration and management of SonicWall appliances are available via the cloud through the SonicWall Capture Security Center and on-premises using SonicWall Global Management System (GMS).

  • Virtual Private Networking

Simplifies and reduces complex distributed firewall deployment down to a trivial effort by automating the initial site-to-site VPN gateway provisioning between SonicWall firewalls while security and connectivity occur instantly and automatically.

  • Context awareness

Identifies and controls network traffic going to or coming from specific countries to either protect against attacks from known or suspected origins of threat activity, or to investigate suspicious traffic originating from the network.

5. NetGate pfSense Firewall SG-1100

No. 5 Best Choice

The NetGate SG-1100 firewall and router combo add to the company’s popular line of ARM-based desktop appliance. This new design of the pfSense firewall has enormous upgrades from its SG-1000 predecessor. While being slightly higher than the SG-1000 at $179, the SG-1100 brings in 5x more performance.

The SG-1100 targets small and home offices, home laboratories, virtual offices, small and medium businesses, and corporate branch offices that need a 1Gbps performance firewall.

Key Features

  • Powerful & Low Power

Beating within the compact exterior of the NetGate SG-1100, the 64-bit Marvell ARMADA 3720 network processing system-on-chip (SoC) serves as the brain of the entire operation. The 3720 leverages dual Cortex-A53 ARM processor cores.

  • Packet Filtering Performance

Packet filtering is a technique used for controlling network access, allowing either to pass or halt based on the packet’s source, IP address, ports, and protocols.

  • pfSense Software

NetGate’s SG-110 employs an open-source network security solution that can be configured using a user-friendly interface. pfSense can be configured as a DHCP server, DNS server, LAN or WAN router, stateful packet filtering firewall or a VPN appliance.

  • Secure Remote Access

With the help of pfSense software, the SG-110 allows you to connect through encrypted virtual private networks (VPN). Remote branch offices and on-the-go employees connect securely via the cloud.

  • Low TCO

The NetGate SG-110 allows individuals and businesses to experience a low total cost of ownership (TCO). SG-110’s modern design consumes less power and requires no add-ons to run fully operational.

What Are Hardware Firewalls?

Hardware firewalls are like routers but with more features. Today, many wired routers and wireless routers integrate a hardware firewall. Still, they lack the features of true hardware firewalls.

Hardware firewalls are placed in between the modem and the router. They act as a barrier between the internal network and the Internet, filtering the packets.

While software firewalls, whether they are built inside the operating system or an additional feature of an Internet security suite, work on individual operating systems and devices, hardware firewalls work on an entire network.

Hence, having a software firewall and a hardware firewall provide you multiple layers of protection from different forms of cyber threats.

Why Do You Need A Hardware Firewall?

The areas of 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of things (IoT) continue to grow. But cybercriminals are also using these technologies to enhance their security breach approaches. They aim at your personal data and hard-earned money.

The full rollout of 5G in 2020 skyrockets the adoption of more IoT devices in homes and offices. More devices get linked to networks and the Internet. Unfortunately, cybercriminals can exploit any of these to penetrate internal networks. Also, new zero-day exploits can work with AI-enabled systems. This allows cybercriminals to strike in spots where entities are not prepared to defend.

These trends call for the necessity of having a more sophisticated firewall. A firewall that can respond and block today’s wave of threats.

Through this ultimate guide, we’ll help you choose the right firewall solution that you should install for your home and organization.

Is A Hardware Firewall A Router?

Depending on the configuration, a hardware firewall can double as a router and a router, whether it is a wired router or a wireless router, can double as a hardware firewall.

Hardware firewalls work like network routers but with more security features.

In a traditional network setup, network administrators put hardware firewalls in between the modem and the router. These network devices work as a barrier between the internal network and the Internet, filtering the packets.

During the first days of the Internet, routers were employed as hardware firewalls. Today, network routers integrate a firewall into their network management console. Although they do not provide wireless connectivity, wired routers work as an old-fashioned yet proven way to establish a network infrastructure with a stable high-speed Internet connection without compromising tough security. Because of this, many homeowners and, more importantly, businesses still use wired routers.

In a wired network setup, administrators can easily pinpoint and physically prevent intruders from connecting to the network. Apart from having a built-in firewall, wired routers support several security features like administrative control, virtual private network (VPN) functions, and encryption protocols.

Likewise, wireless routers also adopt the security features of hardware firewalls and wired routers. While wireless routers offer a more convenient means to deploy highspeed Internet access, wireless network setups can be more susceptible to cybersecurity attacks than wired network environments.

In a wireless setup, it’s more difficult to physically stop intruders from hooking up to your wireless network. That said, today’s wireless routers carry security features similar to those of wired routers. These features include a built-in firewall, parental or administrative control, and encryption protocols support.

Things To Consider When Choosing A Hardware Firewall

Whether you are buying a hardware firewall or a software firewall as a homeowner or a network administrator of a company’s IT department, there are points that you should consider before making a decision and shelling out cash.

Firewall Throughput

This qualification applies to hardware firewalls and these appliances have a varying range of firewall throughput to offer. Entry-level to midrange hardware firewall models have a firewall throughput of around 500Mbps. But as the number of network users goes up, you will need a hardware firewall with up to 1Gbps throughput.

Device Monitoring

Your NGFW must be capable of finding a device by user name and not just by an IP address. This allows you to identify how many devices each of the network users are accessing the infrastructure.

Protection & Threat Prevention

NGFWs can track and control all of the applications and information on your network. They can limit traffic and risks to your network by only allowing approved applications to be used. You can even scan these applications to ensure there are no potential threats.

Remote User Coverage

NGFWs should be able to monitor and control traffic coming in and going out among remote users who are connected to your infrastructure.

Streamlined Security Infrastructure

NGFWs should have the necessary security infrastructure components like built-in antivirus protection, spam filtering, deep packet inspection, and application filtering.

Visibility & Control

With the right firewall installed, you can apply rules to network users. You can permit and prohibit them from accessing certain applications. NGFWs can even limit access to specific functions of an application.


The last but not least, price is always a factor when it comes to choosing the right firewall. It’s important that you think about not only how much something costs but how it will fit into your budget.