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Comparison Buyer's Guide
Executive Summary
Updated on Jan 9, 2023

We performed a comparison between Meraki MX and pfSense based on our users’ reviews in five categories. After reading all of the collected data, you can find our conclusion below.

  • Ease of Deployment: Most users of both solutions say deployment is easy and straightforward.
  • Features: Users of both products are happy with their stability and scalability.

    Users of Meraki MX say the solution is secure, easy to use, and flexible. Reviewers say its monitoring capabilities could be improved.

    Users of pfSense say the solution is robust and they like its performance and VPN features. Reviewers mention that its user interface and level of security could be improved.
  • Pricing: Reviewers of Meraki MX say that the price is reasonable compared to other solutions on the market, but still on the expensive side. pfSense is an open-source solution and free of charge.
  • Service and Support: Users of Meraki MX feel the service and support is at a minimum satisfactory, with many feeling it was great. Users of pfSense report being satisfied with the level of support they receive.
  • ROI: Users of both solutions report a positive ROI.

Comparison Results: The main difference between the two solutions is that Meraki MX is expensive, while pfSense is an open-source solution and is free of charge. In addition, Meraki’s monitoring capabilities could use improvement.

To learn more, read our detailed Meraki MX vs. pfSense Report (Updated: January 2023).
670,331 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
Pros
"What I like best about Meraki MX is that it's easy to deploy remotely. The product works. It has automatic updates. I also like that Meraki MX is a brilliant device. You turn it on, stick the key in there, activate it, and then you're done. Meraki MX does what my customers need at the end of the day, so I also like that.""Meraki makes it easy to be secure and know where the holes are to fix them. We have been fixing anything that we have ever found for 20 years. We keep up-to-date with firmware upgrades. We just try to stay on top of everything for security, like maintaining updates and getting rid of old systems. I feel like we're on top of it.""The technical support people from Meraki are brilliant.""The solution is easy to set up.""MX is easy to manage, configure and install.""I think cloud management is key. The cloud management and support are the two things that make the product great.""To me, the analytics feature is one of the most valuable in Meraki MX. I also find that it has good usability as it's cloud-based. Another valuable feature of Meraki MX is that it's simple to use and it's user-friendly.""Its ease of configuration and management is very useful for us and for other companies that don't have an onsite IT person. It is easy to configure and easy to manage. It is easy to configure the VPN with the Auto VPN feature."

More Meraki MX Pros →

"Sophos Intercept X is scalable. Currently, we have almost 30 people using it in our company.""The most valuable features of pfSense are the reports, monitoring, filtration, and blocking incoming and outgoing traffic.""It is very easy to use. The interface is quite understandable. There is a good community, and I can take over at any time I want. If there is anything wrong with it, I could just reinstall the whole thing and start all over again, and I'll be up again in less than a few minutes""The classic features such as content inspection, content protection, and the application-level firewall, are the most important.""I am happy with the EPLS, the radius, and I am happy with the captive portal.""The flexibility of adding new kinds of services without spending any money can't be beaten.""It is a very good solution for enterprises that need a VPN for their employees. It is the best way to provide a remote work facility to employees at a very low cost. Other solutions that I have had in the past were very expensive. Enterprises don't always have that kind of money to invest.""I like pfSense's security features."

More pfSense Pros →

Cons
"An area for improvement in Meraki MX is that it needs some provision, as supplying the unit through Cisco can be tedious at times, but as far as the product itself and its offerings, Meraki MX is five-star all the way.""MX can only be managed via a web interface, but I'm accustomed to using a CLI or a graphical interface. I would also like to see more reporting features. It doesn't provide enough information for me to know precisely about some clients.""When we do API integrations with Meraki, they have always been hard as well as tedious to build. The data that we want out of the API integrations has been only recently available. Six months ago, it was hard to get someone to build something correctly or useful with Meraki APIs. Recently, they have made more data available on the API, but it is just a start. They need to do more.""We have been having a problem with the VPN. When the energy goes down and is back again, the VPN link doesn't get established. We have to manually turn off the modems and other pieces of equipment and manually establish the VPN. It has been around one month since we have been having this problem, and we don't have enough support from Meraki to solve the problem.""They need to improve the link between Meraki and Active Directory.""It is very expensive.""Meraki tech support staff have a lot more visibility into your network than you do, which is frustrating at times. I understand the approach is to keep the dashboard easier to understand. This will frustrate more advanced users at times.​""Meraki MX firewalls are great for small to medium-sized businesses, but other solutions are better for enterprise-sized companies."

More Meraki MX Cons →

"The integration could be improved.""The solution could improve by having centralized management and API support online.""The VPN feature of the solution could improve by adding better functionality and providing easier configure ability.""It could use a little bit of improvement in the reporting.""It's just not listed as FIPS compliant for where we're at now in government, which is an issue.""The router monitoring needs improvement when compared with Sonicwall.""The main problem with pfSense is that we have to use proxy solutions.""Ultimately, we'd like something stronger, and something that can handle threats better in real-time."

More pfSense Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "Like any Cisco product, the license is really expensive for small business clients. It needs to be cheaper. If you look it up, you might go, "That doesn't make any sense.""
  • "We just have to pay for the product and the license. We have a license for three years, and it is renewed every three years. It costs $1,200 for three years for one endpoint. Meraki had a good promotion for remote workers or remote workforce. The discount is very good. This promotion continues till the next fiscal year of Cisco."
  • "​Other content filtering solutions that I have used had more bells and whistles, but given the cost, complexity, and management overhead, I am very pleased with Meraki’s solution."
  • "I think the price is comparable with other solutions of the same kind. Depending on the use case it could be cheaper or more expensive, I think it offers good value."
  • "The price of Meraki MX is between $8 and $1,200. Additionally, we typically purchase a three-year enterprise license, and we pay approximately $899 and mark it up a bit."
  • "The pricing for Meraki MX is all right, but as the hardware needs to be licensed, the cost depends on the complexity of the device and the term. Pricing could be $100 to $10,000 yearly or even more for a more complex device."
  • More Meraki MX Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "pfSense is open-source."
  • "We are using the open-source version which is free. We are testing the solution to see if we are going to go to the enterprise version which requires a license and is not free."
  • "There is no license. You don't have to pay anything. It's completely free."
  • "It's open-source and it's free. Anything for free is good."
  • "pfSense is a free solution."
  • "The solution software does not require a license, it is free. The support contract is about $600 dollars."
  • "Its price is pretty fair."
  • "The solution is free. However, you need to pay for support."
  • More pfSense Pricing and Cost Advice →

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    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer:We have Meraki Mx devices now, we are looking to replace them. But that is because the Meraki MX platform lacks SSL Inspection, Granular Firewall rules (Block only, no allow setting), client vpn… more »
    Top Answer: Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) software is the operating software for the Cisco ASA suite. It supports network security and firewall options. We researched both Meraki and ASA. We liked… more »
    Top Answer:Meraki equipment requires a current license in order to operate. This also gets you hardware replacement and tech support while the license is current. Fortigate requires a current license for… more »
    Top Answer:You don't really specify what type of router you are looking for but if you are talking about a gateway router I recommend PFSense. This software solutions can be installed on youf own hardware or you… more »
    Top Answer:Fortinet’s Fortigate is a firewall solution we use and are very much satisfied with its performance. We find Fortigate both cost-effective and efficient. One of the features we like most is that… more »
    Top Answer:Two of the most common and well recognized firewalls, PfSense and OPNsense both support site-to-site IPsec VPN and client, Open VPN and client, and PPTP client. Both also have intrusion detection and… more »
    Ranking
    Views
    36,134
    Comparisons
    29,072
    Reviews
    7
    Average Words per Review
    798
    Rating
    8.7
    3rd
    out of 48 in Firewalls
    Views
    126,697
    Comparisons
    107,469
    Reviews
    50
    Average Words per Review
    474
    Rating
    8.4
    Comparisons
    Also Known As
    MX64, MX64W, MX84, MX100, MX400, MX600
    Learn More
    Netgate
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    Overview

    Cisco Meraki MX appliances are next-generation firewalls with all the advanced security services needed for today’s IT security. The appliances are ideal for organizations considering a unified threat management (UTM) solution for branch offices, data centers, distributed sites, or campuses. Since Meraki MX is 100% cloud-managed, installation and remote management are simple and zero-touch.

    Meraki MX’s hardware and virtual appliances are configurable in Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Platform, and private cloud support is offered through Cisco NFVIS and Alibaba Cloud.

    Organizations of all sizes and across all industries rely on Meraki MX to deliver secure connectivity to hub locations or multi-cloud environments, as well as application quality of experience (QoE) through advanced analytics with machine learning.

    Cisco Meraki’s advanced QoE analytics offers:

    • End-to-end health of web applications at a glance across the LAN, WAN, and application server.
    • Autonomous machine-learned smart application thresholds applied to identify true anomalies that are based on past behavioral patterns.
    • Ability to monitor the health of all MX WAN links across an entire organization.
    • Ability to detail hop-by-hop VoIP performance analysis across all uplinks.

    Cisco Meraki’s SD-WAN offers:

    The Meraki MX’s SD-WAN is unique in that it can be easily extended to deliver optimized access to resources in public and private cloud environments with virtual MX appliances. Its SD-WAN lowers operational costs and improves the performance of remotely-accessed resources. Users can ensure the availability of the apps and services their employees use most through dynamic path selection, policy-based routing, support for application-layer profiles, and VPN.

    Meraki MX offers industry-leading cloud management that has template-based settings which can scale easily from small deployments to tens of thousands of devices. It features an intuitive web-based dashboard for managing mobile devices, united firewalls, switching, and wireless LAN. Users can also benefit from role-based administration, configurable email alerts for a variety of important events, and easily auditable change logs. Meraki MX is capable of producing summary reports with device, user, and application details archived in the cloud.

    Meraki MX Key Features

    MX has a robust suite of network services in an all-in-one device, which saves you money by eliminating the need for multiple appliances. These services include:

    • SD-WAN capabilities
    • SNORT®-based intrusion detection and prevention
    • Layer 7 fingerprinting
    • Web caching
    • Application-based firewalling
    • Anti-malware
    • Geo-based firewalling
    • Content filtering
    • Site-to-site auto VPN and client VPN
    • Web search filtering
    • Cisco Advanced Malware Protection (AMP)
    • 4G cellular failover
    • Dynamic path selection
    • Web application health and VoIP health

    Reviews from Real Users

    Meraki MX stands out among its competitors for a number of reasons. Two major ones are its easy management and its ability to be accessed remotely. Below is some feedback from PeerSpot users who are currently using Meraki MX as their firewall security solution.

    Craig B., a central services engineer at Liberty Technology, writes, “The web console for managing everything keeps everything on Meraki and keeps us from going somewhere else. It is why I think a lot of people like Meraki. Comparing it to SonicWall or even a different Cisco firewall, like traditional ASAs, managing Meraki is a thousand times easier because of fluidity. You don't have to rebuild a table just to change one rule. It's much more readable for a human.”

    Edgardo C., an IT director, notes,”By using the VPN, we can connect remotely. We have two offices, and we could connect them through the VPN. We could establish a network between two sites, and that has improved and increased communication and productivity. Our remote site is able to access the server remotely.”

    pfSense is a free and open-source operating system for routers and firewalls, and is typically configured as DHCP server, DNS server, WiFi access point, VPN server, all running on the same hardware device. It is operated through a user-friendly web interface, making administration easy even for users with limited networking knowledge.

    In addition, pfSense is feature-rich, has a mature platform, is customizable, is flexible by design, and can be used on a small home router as well as run the entire network of a large corporation. pfSense puts you in control of your networking, is regularly updated, and works to promptly patch security issues. pfSense has recently become the favored alternative to the industry leader, Cisco.

    pfSense is:

    • Robust
    • Powerful
    • Easy to use
    • Secure
    • Scalable

    pfSense Key Features

    pfSense has many key features and capabilities, including:

    • Strength and accuracy: pfSense is able to always follow either default or custom rules, making it a stronger firewall than some of its competitors. It also filters traffic separately, whether it’s coming from your internal network of devices or the open internet, allowing you to set different rules and policies for each.

    • Flexibility: pfSense can work both as a basic firewall and as a complete security system because it gives you the flexibility to integrate additional features as code where necessary.

    • Open-source: Because it is open-source, not only is pfSense free to use, but community members can contribute to the code to make it a better software.

    • User-friendly: Usually firewall products are not user-friendly because they often include complex settings, options, and features that require fine-tuning. pfSense’s interface is simple, direct, and easy to use.

    • WireGuard Support: Instead of building your own VPN using pfSense, or settling for a commercial VPN provider, you can directly integrate WireGuard with the pfSense firewall.

    • Speed Management and Fault Tolerance: pfSense’s multi-WAN feature allows your system to continue operating in case components fail.

    • Well-supported: pfSense regularly has security and feature updates. It also has a documentation site and a well-informed and knowledgeable support forum.

    Reviews from Real Users

    Below is some feedback from PeerSpot Users who are currently using the solution.

    Bojan O., CEO at In.sist d.o.o., says, “The classic features, such as content inspection, content protection, and the application-level firewall, are the most important."

    Another PeerSpot user, a chef at a media company, explains what he finds most valuable about pfSense: "The plugins or add-ons are most valuable. Sometimes, they are free of charge, and sometimes, you have to pay for them, but you can purchase or download very valuable plugins or add-ons to perform internal testing of your network and simulate a denial-of-service attack or whichever attack you want to simulate. You can also remote and monitor your network and see where the gap is."

    T.O., a VP of Business Development at a tech services company, mentions, "What I found most valuable is the cost of the platform, the flexibility of the platform, and the fact that the ongoing fees are not there as they are with the competitor."



    Offer
    Learn more about Meraki MX
    Learn more about pfSense
    Sample Customers
    Hyatt, ONS
    Nerds On Site Inc., RKC Development Inc., Expertech, Fisher's Technology, Ncisive, Consulting, CPURX, Vaughn's Computer House Calls, Imeretech LLC, Digital Crisis, Carolina Digital Phone, Technigogo Technology Services, The Simple Solution, SwiftecITInc, Rocky Mountain Tech Team, Free Range Geeks, Alaska Computer Geeks, Lark Information Technology, Renaissance Systems Inc., Cutting Edge Computers, Caretech LLC, GoVanguard, Network Touch Ltd, P.C. Solutions.Net, Vision Voice and Data Systems LLC, Montgomery Technologies, Techforce, Concero Networks, ASONInc, CPS Electronics and Consulting, Darkwire.net LLC, IT Specialists, MBS-Net Inc., VOICE1 LLC, Advantage Networking Inc., Powerhouse Systems, Doxa Multimedia Inc., Pro Computer Service, Virtual IT Services, A&J Computers Inc., Envision IT LLC, CommunicaONE Inc., Bone Computer Inc., Amax Engineering Corporation, QPG Ltd. Co., IT 101 Inc., Perfect Cloud Solutions, Applied Technology Group Inc., The Digital Sun Group LLC, Firespring
    Top Industries
    REVIEWERS
    Comms Service Provider26%
    Performing Arts9%
    Computer Software Company9%
    Pharma/Biotech Company9%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Computer Software Company19%
    Comms Service Provider14%
    Government6%
    Retailer5%
    REVIEWERS
    University11%
    Comms Service Provider9%
    Marketing Services Firm9%
    Energy/Utilities Company6%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Comms Service Provider23%
    Computer Software Company15%
    Government8%
    Educational Organization5%
    Company Size
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business60%
    Midsize Enterprise23%
    Large Enterprise17%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business36%
    Midsize Enterprise18%
    Large Enterprise46%
    REVIEWERS
    Small Business70%
    Midsize Enterprise18%
    Large Enterprise13%
    VISITORS READING REVIEWS
    Small Business29%
    Midsize Enterprise20%
    Large Enterprise51%
    Buyer's Guide
    Meraki MX vs. pfSense
    January 2023
    Find out what your peers are saying about Meraki MX vs. pfSense and other solutions. Updated: January 2023.
    670,331 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Meraki MX is ranked 2nd in Unified Threat Management (UTM) with 11 reviews while pfSense is ranked 3rd in Firewalls with 47 reviews. Meraki MX is rated 8.8, while pfSense is rated 8.4. The top reviewer of Meraki MX writes "Makes it easy to stay on top of everything for security". On the other hand, the top reviewer of pfSense writes "Feature-rich, well documented, and there is good support available online". Meraki MX is most compared with Fortinet FortiGate, Cisco Secure Firewall, Palo Alto Networks NG Firewalls, Sophos XG and SonicWall NSa, whereas pfSense is most compared with OPNsense, Fortinet FortiGate, Sophos XG, Untangle NG Firewall and Juniper SRX. See our Meraki MX vs. pfSense report.

    We monitor all Unified Threat Management (UTM) reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.