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WatchGuard XTM 515 review


Combines a heady blend of gateway security measures with excellent performance and a reasonable price

Review Date: 4 Feb 2013

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £1,011 (£1,213 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £228
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
6 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

WatchGuard’s latest XTM 5 Series of security appliances aims to deliver enterprise-level performance at SMB prices. In this exclusive review, we look at the XTM 515, which has a high quoted throughput of 850Mbits/sec.

The appliance delivered the goods in our performance tests. Hooking up the 515 to the lab’s Ixia XM2 chassis and Xcellon-Ultra NP load modules, we created a test that simulated web clients on two Gigabit ports accessing web servers on two other Gigabit ports.

The IxLoad tool reported a top throughput of 860Mbits/sec, with all universal threat management (UTM) features switched on in the firewall policies. The appliance can be upgraded with a feature key to an XTM 525, which increases throughput to 1Gbit/sec.

WatchGuard XTM 515

The XTM 515 isn’t short of features either, and the price shown above is for the one-year Security Bundle. This includes WatchGuard’s LiveSecurity support plus IPS, web-content filtering, anti-spam, gateway antivirus, application controls, HTTPS inspection and WatchGuard’s “reputation enabled” defence. The latter uses an online server to flag up URLs with good reputations, so the box doesn’t have to scan every item of traffic.

Mixed-mode routing is the most flexible deployment method since it allows all the ports to be defined as separate interfaces. We opted for this and had the appliance up and running in minutes thanks to a wizard-based setup routine. It becomes trickier from here on in, however, as you need to configure application proxies for each of the security services. Even so, there’s a fine choice, and it includes HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SIP, H.323, POP3 and SMTP.

After proxy configuration, actions are assigned. These include functions such as exceptions, alarms and logging requests. Firewall rules are then used to apply each proxy and its associated actions to selected network interfaces.

WatchGuard’s application awareness makes the XTM appliances stand out, since it allows admins to control Facebook and other social networking sites. It can be linked with Active Directory authentication, so you can fine-tune access on a per-user basis and decide who can log in, edit their profile, access webmail, view video, transfer files, play games or chat.

WatchGuard XTM 515

Web-content filtering requires a separate Windows system to host the WebBlocker URL category database, although we found a basic Windows 7 PC can run this happily. The same system will be needed to run the logging and reporting servers as well, but these also have a light footprint.

With WebBlocker there are 56 categories of URL that can be blocked, and we found very little sneaked past it. The Commtouch hosted anti-spam service is no lightweight, either: when tested previously, it delivered a detection score of 99% in our live tests.

Along with a performance boost over the older Series 5 XTM appliances, the latest WatchGuard Fireware 11.6.1 firmware adds new features. WebBlocker database updates are now fully automated, the web interface offers a handy policy checker service, and the appliance supports even more VPNs than before.

Larger businesses with branch offices can use WatchGuard’s System Manager tools for remotely managing multiple appliances. These now allow you to schedule feature key synchronisations, reboots and OS upgrades across groups of appliances.

High UTM performance usually comes with an equally high price, but the XTM 515 bucks the trend. It’s far better value than most competing products and offers a superb range of security measures.

Author: Dave Mitchell

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User comments


no mention of its VPN capabilities - number of licenses included, protocols supported etc.

Also, does it need to have the monitoring services loaded on servers on the network, like earlier Watchguards?

By big_D on 4 Feb 2013


Hi big_D.

Here are teh vpn details;

VPN Throughput 250 Mbps
Branch Office VPN Tunnels (Max.) 65
Mobile VPN with SSL/L2TP (Incl/Max) 65
Mobile VPN with IPSec Client Licenses (Bundled) 75
Mobile VPN with IPSec Tunnels (Max.) 75

As for your question on the monitoring software. If you want logging and reporting then yes you will need to install it on a windows base machine.

By Watchguard on 5 Feb 2013


thank you. That is much appreciated.

By big_D on 5 Feb 2013

RE: VPN [@Watchguard; @big_D]

Please also note that by "VPN tunnels" in the licensing, WatchGuard means each individual route within the tunnel setup. E.g. in the tunnel config, adding the route " Local Remote " consumes one "tunnel" license. This is very good to keep in mind; I've burned myself on this before. Thank goodness they have a really fast upgrade model. ;)

By AriinPHD on 8 Feb 2013

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