Fortinet vs Palo Alto NGFWs: Complete 2024 Comparison

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Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks are two top cybersecurity companies competing in the security market, offering solutions like endpoint detection and response (EDR) and firewalls. Both next-generation firewalls boast strong, independently verified security. Fortinet excels in deployment and security effectiveness, while Palo Alto has an edge in cloud compatibility and extensive features. Exploring the differences between them can help you select the best option for your business.

Consider using Fortinet or Palo Alto in the following scenarios:

  • Fortinet: Best for simple operations, small-scale deployments, and a user-friendly dashboard ($914.31+ per month)
  • Palo Alto: Best for scalability, centralized management, and extensive firewall capabilities ($1,394.44+ per month)

Featured Partners: Next-Gen Firewall (NGFW) Software

Fortinet vs Palo Alto NGFW at a Glance

Here are the main similarities and differences between Fortinet and Palo Alto NGFWs:

Fortinet logoPalo Alto Networks logo
Price/MSRPTCO: $914.31+/month
Per Mbps: $3.56+
TCO: $1394.44+/month
Per Mbps: $29.25+
ML/AI PoweredYesYes
ScalabilityHighly scalableHighly scalable
Ease of ImplementationEasy deployment and setupMay need technical assistance
MITRE Detection & Protection Overall Rate98.33%99.08%
Overall Security Effectiveness Rate99.88%79.15%
Visit FortinetVisit Palo Alto

Fortinet and Palo Alto received some of the highest independent testing scores from Cyber Ratings, so buyers of either company’s products can have confidence that they’re getting the best security possible. However, the two solutions have some key differences and we assessed these across six major criteria. See our scoring methodology below.

Fortinet icon.

Fortinet Overview

Best for Simple Operations, Small-scale Deployments, & User-Friendly Dashboard

Overall Rating: 4.1/5

  • Core Features: 4.4/5
  • Cost: 3.4/5
  • Additional Features: 4.2/5
  • Ease of Use & Deployment: 4.7/5
  • Security Effectiveness Testing: 4.3/5
  • Customer Support: 4/5

Fortinet’s FortiGate is a series of network security devices that protects networks from threats. It has integrated SSL inspection, intrusion prevention, web filtering, and other integrated features that offer cost-effective security. Fortinet’s strength lies in its easy deployments within a small-scale environment and user-friendly security valued by small businesses. Additionally, FortiManager enables unified management and consistent security in hybrid environments.

Key Features

  • FortiOS: Employs federated upgrades for users, which ensures a robust and constantly updated security infrastructure.
  • Zero trust capabilities: Enhances security by identifying and protecting suspicious users and devices, lowering the danger of unauthorized access.
  • SD-WAN features: Integrates SD-WAN features to optimize network performance and improves connectivity for distributed operations.
  • VPN tunneling: Scales security with scalable IPsec VPN tunneling, protecting remote and distributed workforces by enabling secure communication channels.
  • Security processing units (SPUs): Makes use of SPUs and vSPUs to accelerate network security processing, hence improving overall system speed and efficiency.


  • Easy to use, well-designed user interface
  • More affordable option than Palo Alto
  • High score for industry firewall testing


  • Users report issues with tech support
  • Log search takes time
  • Intermittent system outages
Palo Alto Networks icon.

Palo Alto Overview

Best for Scalability, Centralized Management, & Extensive Firewall Capabilities

Overall Rating: 3.9/5

  • Core Features: 4.8/5
  • Cost: 2.5/5
  • Additional Features: 4.7/5
  • Ease of Use & Deployment: 4.4/5
  • Security Effectiveness Testing: 2.9/5
  • Customer Support: 4.2/5

Palo Alto Networks, founded by Nir Zuk, delivers the industry’s premier ML-Powered Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) for a wide range of environments, from small offices to data centers. The solution prioritizes extensive functionality despite its higher cost in the market. Its unified network security architecture secures virtual, on-premises, and containerized environments, making it ideal for large companies with strong IT and security teams.

Key Features

  • Scalability: Offers choices for SMBs, large corporations, managed service providers, and data centers of various sizes.
  • Comprehensive visibility and control: Provides extended administration for complex network topologies, ensuring complete control over multiple network components.
  • User-based policies: Uses existing user repositories to enforce policies while limiting application access based on user roles and permissions.
  • Machine learning for threat detection: Applies machine learning methods to detect and prevent intrusions.
  • Centralized management: Employs Panorama for central management, providing admins with a single point of contact to efficiently manage NGFWs across the network.


  • Broad features for large businesses
  • Highly rated machine learning power
  • Cloud-compatible


  • More expensive than other NGFWs
  • Lengthy wait times for technical support
  • Steep learning curve

Best for Pricing: Fortinet

Fortinet logoPalo Alto Networks logo
Total Cost of Ownership SRP$914.31+/month$1,394.44+/month
Price Value per Mbps$3.56+$29.25+
Entry Level Series Starting Price$600+$1,000+
Free TrialNoNo
Free DemoYesYes
Visit FortinetVisit Palo Alto

Winner: Fortinet’s suggested retail price for their total cost of ownership, per Mbps’ value, and entry level series costs lower than Palo Alto’s.

FortiGate’s pricing varies depending on model and SKU. TCO starts at $1,300, or $29.25 per Mbps. The F series starts at $600. Midrange devices like the 100F start at $3,600. 600F starts at $46,000 with three years of service. The 7121F (520 Gbps) may cost $1 million with maintenance and protection. Pricing is not available on the website, but AWS Marketplace provides a cost calculator. To let you explore their broad features, Fortinet offers a free demo.

Fortigate NGFW demo.

Palo Alto’s PA hardwall firewall series starts at $1,000 for the PA-410 and goes up to over $200,000 for the high-end PA-7000 series. The total cost of ownership (TCO) starts at $900, with a value of $3.56 per Mbps. Options also include the 1400, 3400, and 5400 series, as well as the ruggedized PA-220R. Palo Alto provides a comprehensive demo center to let users explore the features they offer. 

Palo Alto Networks demo.

Best for Core Features: Palo Alto

Fortinet logoPalo Alto Networks logo
Centralized ManagementYesYes
ScalabilityLimitedSmall to large businesses
Machine Learning/AI- PoweredYesYes
SD-WAN CapabilitiesYesYes
VPN IntegrationAvailable, but limitedAvailable
Zero TrustYesYes
Application & Identity AwarenessAvailable, but limitedAvailable
Additional Features• SD-WAN
• Advanced sandboxing
• User-based policies
• Configurable management dashboard
• Advanced sandboxing
• Security tools integration
• Single-pass parallel processing architecture
• User-based policies
• Configurable management dashboard
Visit FortinetVisit Palo Alto

Winner: While both Fortinet and Palo Alto NGFWs excel at basic firewall security, Palo Alto has an advantage due to superior core features and added functionality.

Fortinet’s core features include centralized management, threat prevention, and container protection. It integrates with security tools, offers limited application awareness and deep packet inspection, and provides efficient SD-WAN capabilities. It uses ML and has a separate advanced sandboxing solution. However, its VPN client may be exclusive to select Fortinet firewalls. While not as scalable as Palo Alto, it still performs well in smaller business contexts.

FortiGate-VM dashboard.

Palo Alto Networks’ NGFW features demonstrate continuous development in functionality and security. Their firewall hardware ranges from small offices to data centers and is accompanied by an ever-changing feature-rich operating system. Its real zero trust security, ML-powered NGFW, and single-pass parallel processing architecture provide scalable, user-centric policies, ensuring ongoing, effective threat prevention and performance maintenance over time.

If you’re maximizing your firewall’s features, Palo Alto’s continuous innovation, powerful machine learning, and comprehensive security capabilities make it a better choice between the two. 

Palo Alto Panorama dashboard.

Best for Ease of Use & Deployment: Fortinet

Fortinet logoPalo Alto Networks logo
Ease of UseEasyEase depends on level of customization/integration
Knowledge BaseAccessible on website, comprehensiveAccessible on website, comprehensive
Common Positive Reviews• Easy to navigate GUI
• Complete product documentation
• Large scale centralized management and policy distribution
Needs Improvement• Dropping VPN issues
• Common line interface (CLI) syncing problems
• Large configurations require precision
• Vendor-specific configurations and policies
• Learning curve for new feature release
Visit FortinetVisit Palo Alto

Winner: Fortinet’s NGFW solution outshines Palo Alto’s in central management use cases and user ratings for ease of use and deployment across several platforms.

Fortinet has customizable FortiOS dashboards with Network Operations Center (NOC) and responsive layouts. Responsive dashboards automatically modify columns to fit the screen size, whereas NOC dashboards allow for vertical and horizontal widget scaling. Users can establish numerous dashboards for VDOMs, each with interactive widgets to provide more data. This customization improves Fortigate’s user-friendliness by addressing various preferences.

Fortinet has great user satisfaction rates for ease of use and deployment. Gartner Peer Insights evaluates its deployment as 4.7/5. Capterra gave it a 4.7/5 for ease of use. It gained 9.10/10 for ease of use and 8.9/10 for ease of setup on G2. Gartner acknowledges it’s on-premises and cloud-based centralized management, with feature parity and easy firewall management. Their knowledge base is extensive, providing comprehensive material and training resources.

Fortinet technical document.

Palo Alto’s Dashboard displays firewall or Panorama information including software version, interface status, resource utilization, and log entries within the previous hour. The dashboard’s default layout is three columns and is customizable. Users can display or hide widgets based on their preferences for targeted monitoring. This customization also guarantees a user-friendly experience by providing concentrated visibility on chosen information.

Palo Alto’s usability is still impressive, with a 4.7/5 Gartner Peer Insights deployment rating and extensive tech documentation. Capterra rated it a perfect 5/5 for ease of use. G2 rated it 8.4/10 for ease of use and 8.2/10 for ease of setup, although Fortinet scored higher. Gartner states that its cloud-based firewall manager is not on par with its on-premises counterpart, which is primarily designed for certain use cases such as Prisma Access and gen 4 hardware models.

Palo Alto Networks technical document.

Best for Security Effectiveness: Fortinet

Fortinet logoPalo Alto Networks logo
Overall Security Effectiveness99.88%79.15%
Exploit Block Rate100%92%
Simple Policy Routing TestPassPass
Access Control TestPassPass
UDP, HTTP, & HTTPS Capacity Average11383 Mbps1717 Mbps
MITRE Detection & Protection98.33%99.08%
Visit FortinetVisit Palo Alto

Winner: For independent industry firewall testing, Fortinet came out ahead in security effectiveness.

Fortinet’s NGFW achieves a 99.88% overall security effectiveness score, a 100% exploit block rate, and 11383 Mbps throughput in access control tests. While it outscored Palo Alto in 2023, Palo Alto had a higher rating in 2022, demonstrating the shifting dynamics of their comparative security effectiveness over time.

Palo Alto’s NGFW has a overall rating of 79.15%, indicating high security efficacy. It passes access control tests and has an impressive 92.00% exploit block rate and a throughput of 1717 Mbps. They obtained MITRE Detection and Protection evaluation rate of 99.08%, showing its comprehensive threat detection and prevention capabilities.

Security Effectiveness chart.

Best for Cloud & Complex Use Cases: Palo Alto

Fortinet logoPalo Alto Networks logo
Cloud-Delivered Security Services Yes, through Fortigate CNFYes, through Cloud NGFW
Cloud Environments PerformanceMediumHigh
Distinct AdvantageMeets mid-sized and small business needsMeets small to large business needs
Web Application Firewall (WAF)FortiWeb integrationBuilt-in
High ResiliencyYesYes
Visit FortinetVisit Palo Alto

Winner: Palo Alto Networks’ diverse firewall solutions make it a better alternative for cloud use cases and complex organizational needs.

Fortinet is ideal for enterprises that want secure and efficient solutions tailored to the security requirements of distributed operations and branch offices within their network architecture. It still offers great performance and comprehensive features, making it a reliable choice. Fortinet’s strength is its ability to cater to mid-sized and small organizations, offering effective security solutions suited to their individual requirements.

FortiGate Cloud Premium dashboard.

Palo Alto Networks, on the other hand, has a distinct advantage in cloud use cases and meeting the complex needs of large companies. It also offers web application security through its built-in WAF. Its firewall offerings range from small offices and campuses to mid-sized and large enterprises. Its high-performance in extreme environment requirements demonstrates the company’s advanced abilities and scalability in dealing with complicated network settings.

Palo Alto Networks Cloud NGFW diagram.

Best for Customer Support: Palo Alto

Fortinet logoPalo Alto Networks logo
Support Channels24/7 live chat, phone, and email24/7 live chat, phone, and email
Tech SupportUsers report occasional unresponsivenessUsers report prolonged waiting period
Free Training/DemosYesYes
Global SupportYesYes
Overall G2 & Capterra Customer Experience Rate66%83%
Visit FortinetVisit Palo Alto

Winner: Platform scores favor Palo Alto, indicating that it provides a typically better customer service experience than Fortinet.

Fortinet’s customer service options include 24/7 live chat, phone assistance in different languages, and email communication. They provide documentation, demos, and training for free. User ratings on G2 give it a good quality of support score of 8.7/10, whereas Capterra evaluates its customer service as 4.4/5.

Fortinet customer support portal.

Palo Alto leads in platform ratings with an 8.1/10 Quality of Support Score on G2 and a higher customer service rating of 5/5 on Capterra. Palo Alto Networks also offers live chat assistance 24/7, and its support is available by phone or email. They also provide free and comprehensive technical documentation, demos, and training tools.

Palo Alto Networks customer support portal.

Who Shouldn’t Use Fortinet or Palo Alto?

Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks firewalls may not be suitable for everyone, especially those that value cost-effectiveness, specialized scalability needs, or unique environmental considerations. Before deciding on a firewall solution, you should first examine your organization’s needs. Knowing your particular preferences allows you to make a better informed decision in choosing the best firewall type or solution.

Who Shouldn’t Use Fortinet

Here are some instances where Fortinet may not be the best fit for you:

  • Cloud-centric enterprises: Fortinet may not be the best fit for enterprises that rely heavily on cloud use cases.
  • Companies with complex enterprise needs: For those with complex and advanced network requirements, Fortinet’s capabilities may fall short compared to Palo Alto.
  • Those wanting instant customer service: User evaluations show potential delays in Fortinet’s customer service, making it less suitable for people needing fast assistance.

Who Shouldn’t Use Palo Alto

Palo Alto might not be suitable for users such as the following:

  • Businesses with limited budgets: Palo Alto Networks may not be the ideal option for those with tight budgets, as it’s often regarded as a premium solution with high costs.
  • Companies with limited in-house expertise: Organizations lacking firewall management skills may struggle with Palo Alto’s complexity and prefer user-friendly alternatives.
  • Organizations with small-scale deployments: Businesses with low firewall requirements may find extensive features unnecessary.

3 Best Alternatives to Fortinet & Palo Alto

Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks are excellent firewalls, but they may not suit every budget or all needs. For those seeking top performance and for whom price is a secondary consideration, there are other worthy competitors in the market; among them are Check Point, Cisco, and Sophos. 

Check Point icon.

Check Point

Check Point, a Gartner leader, offers strong NGFW solutions and is best for users seeking excellent sandboxing capabilities. Price starts at $2,100 for smaller packages. Distinguished by SandBlast Zero-Day Protection, Check Point suits businesses of all sizes seeking top-notch threat prevention, application control, and URL filtering. The user-friendly SmartConsole dashboard enhances its appeal, making it easier for users to use the dashboard.

Explore Check Point’s comparison with Palo Alto here: Check Point vs Palo Alto Networks.

Check Point dashboard.
Cisco icon.


Cisco, a networking industry leader, continues to be at the forefront of firewall technologies with advancements such as the 2015 SD-WAN acquisition by Embrane. Cisco Secure Firewall emphasizes real-time protection in dynamic circumstances, supports scalable business policies, and provides robust intrusion prevention. Cisco, priced at $4,500 per year on the AWS Marketplace, is perfect for companies that require complete security and uniform network regulations.

Cisco dashboard.
Sophos icon.

Sophos XGS

Sophos, a UK-based cybersecurity company, offers the Sophos XGS Series with Firewall Xstream architecture. Designed for complex network segments, it provides reliable data security for SaaS, SD-WAN, and cloud traffic. Priced between $500 and $30,000, it’s ideal for small security teams, with an easy-to-use UI, two-factor authentication, remote VPN, and powerful Web Traffic Rules for full network security.

Read more to see how it compares with Fortinet: Sophos XGS vs Fortinet FortiGate

Sophos dashboard.

How We Evaluated Fortinet vs Palo Alto

To thoroughly assess Fortinet and Palo Alto NGFWs, we employed a systematic approach, breaking down key NGFW factors into six key criteria: core features, cost, additional features, ease of use and deployment, security effectiveness testing, and customer support. Each criterion had specific subcriteria, and we assigned category ratings from one to five after assessing the corresponding subcriteria for each service on our list.

Core Features – 25%

We reviewed NGFW capabilities across key domains, including scalability, visibility and control, centralized management, threat detection and prevention, container protection, and integration with security tools. We also assessed its application and identity awareness, deep packet inspection, integrated intrusion prevention (IPS), zero trust capabilities, and machine learning and automation.

Cost – 20%

We reviewed the cost and transparency of NGFW solutions by determining the availability and sufficiency of free trials or free plans, the accessibility and transparency of price information, and the overall pricing structures and plans.

Additional Features – 15%

Beyond the main functionality, we also evaluated enhancement features such as SD-WAN features, advanced sandboxing, cloud compatibility, VPN compatibilities, user-based policies, and a configurable management dashboard.

Ease of Use & Deployment – 15%

In evaluating ease of use and deployment, factors included Gartner Peer Insights deployment rating, knowledge base and resources accessibility, and user reviews regarding ease of use and setup on Capterra and G2.

Security Effectiveness Testing – 15%

We checked the firewalls’ security effectiveness via’s Overall Security Effectiveness Rating. Testing also includes Access Control Tests, 2023 Exploit Block Rate, and Rated Throughput (average of UDP, HTTP, and HTTPS Capacity). The MITRE Endpoint Security Overall Rate further contributes to a holistic assessment of their security effectiveness.

Customer Support – 10%

Customer support effectiveness and accessibility included considerations for live chat responsiveness, phone assistance, email support, documentation/demo/training availability, and user reviews reflecting G2 quality of support score and Capterra customer service feedback.

Bottom Line: Fortinet vs Palo Alto

Both Fortinet and Palo Alto deliver high network firewall security performance. Fortinet gains advantage on pricing, ease of deployment, and security effectiveness tests. Palo Alto gets the edge on core and additional NGFW features. Although both have higher costs compared to others offered in the market, good network security pays for itself in the cost savings from preventing breaches. Explore their free demos to gauge what’s more suitable for your needs.

If you’re just looking for a firewall with good security, either might do, but you may also see our full list of the best next-generation firewall (NGFW) vendors for additional buying options.

Paul Shread contributed to this article.

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