Looking for motherboard embedded CPU



  • Hi guys,

    I'm looking to build a low power/low budget custom system to run pfsense but never thought would be so challenging to find the hardware, specially the motherboard. However I am looking for something quite specific…
    Does anybody knows of a mini ITX board with a good CPU (low power) with a real PCI-E x4 mode? Only managed to find with PCI-E on x1 mode...

    My plan is to find a cheap mini ITX board with embedded CPU and add a 4x ports Gigabit Intel NIC however the ones I found are x4 PCI-E!

    Any advice from you guys?

    Thanks in advance
    Mario



  • @MarioCaires:

    Does anybody knows of a mini ITX board with a good CPU (low power) with a real PCI-E x4 mode? Only managed to find with PCI-E on x1 mode…
    My plan is to find a cheap mini ITX board with embedded CPU and add a 4x ports Gigabit Intel NIC however the ones I found are x4 PCI-E!

    Look at AMD APU based motherboards, they're fairly common with x16physical/x4electrical slots.



  • Thanks for the suggestion! :) Actually AMD never come to mind at all…

    MSI AM1I AMD Mini ITX Motherboard
    AMD APU Sempron 2650 Dual Core Processor, Socket AM1, 1.45GHz, 25W
    DDR3 4Gb RAM

    What do you think of this in terms of performance? Is it going to be enough in terms of the APU?



  • @MarioCaires:

    MSI AM1I AMD Mini ITX Motherboard
    AMD APU Sempron 2650 Dual Core Processor, Socket AM1, 1.45GHz, 25W
    DDR3 4Gb RAM

    What do you think of this in terms of performance? Is it going to be enough in terms of the APU?

    If you're looking for a quad port mostly for the number of interfaces, it should work. If you're actually trying to push 8gbps through it, probably not. I'd look for a quad core, like an a4-5000 or a6-5200 at a minimum (and even then I'm not sure that it'll have enough capacity–maybe someone who has one can chime in?). Alternatively you can get a mini itx with an fm2+ socket and install a faster CPU, though it will draw more power + require more cooling.



  • From my ISP I have a connection of 60/20 and would like to keep my local network capable of Gigabit speeds! 
    Initially I thought of getting a quad Intel NIC to connect my PC, an AP, a switch and obviously the WAN all connected directly to the pfsense box. Would I loose anything if instead getting a dual NIC just for LAN and WAN and then connect my PC, the AP and all the other devices directly to the switch?

    Thank you once again @VAMike ;)



  • @MarioCaires:

    From my ISP I have a connection of 60/20 and would like to keep my local network capable of Gigabit speeds! 
    Initially I thought of getting a quad Intel NIC to connect my PC, an AP, a switch and obviously the WAN all connected directly to the pfsense box. Would I loose anything if instead getting a dual NIC just for LAN and WAN and then connect my PC, the AP and all the other devices directly to the switch?

    You'll be much, much better off not routing any traffic through the firewall which doesn't have to be. If you have everything on one network, a dual interface with LAN & WAN will be optimal. If you're trying to split things into separate networks you can do that with a single LAN interface and VLANs, but there will always be a performance penalty for that vs having multiple interfaces on the firewall. If you're trying to split off just wireless you can probably do that without a performance penalty using either three interfaces or VLANs and CPU power among the choices discussed isn't an issue. Bottom line is: it depends on what you're trying to accomplish.



  • I am not looking to split my network, all in same one! Just to clarify, with a dual NIC interface, one goes for the WAN, the other goes to the LAN that connects to the switch, the wireless AP connected to it as all the other ethernet devices, is this correct?

    With all the struggle to find a solution that doesn't brake the bank while keeping a good performance to serve me for years, I may well ditch Intel NICs to avoid AMD APU and go for a more performance Intel CPU (as a Celeron quadcore) and go for Realtek NICs…
    I have to quit on something and I feel safer to have a faster CPU than Intel NIC's!

    @VAMike what do you think?



  • @MarioCaires:

    I am not looking to split my network, all in same one! Just to clarify, with a dual NIC interface, one goes for the WAN, the other goes to the LAN that connects to the switch, the wireless AP connected to it as all the other ethernet devices, is this correct?

    Yes. If you're only looking to have a single network inside the firewall you definitely do not want more than two interfaces–having machines talk to each other through the firewall is much slower than having them talk through the switch.

    With all the struggle to find a solution that doesn't brake the bank while keeping a good performance to serve me for years, I may well ditch Intel NICs to avoid AMD APU and go for a more performance Intel CPU (as a Celeron quadcore) and go for Realtek NICs…
    I have to quit on something and I feel safer to have a faster CPU than Intel NIC's!

    At 60/20 CPU performance isn't an issue and NICs also really shouldn't be. You can always try rtl nics and change them out if you run into driver bugs.



  • My sempron 3850 at 1.6 gives me +-700/105.
    I  believe that with a 5850 i would saturate me line.

    For future proof, maybe its better choose a cheap kaby lake, altough they have a higher tdp.

    I have snort pfblocker and other services running.



  • I have a couple of AM1 motherboards and CPUs.  The one in my sig is currently doing ESXi 6.5 and running pfSense inside that with an x4 dual Intel chipset NIC.  Works great, but I do have a modest WAN connection.  They're great for a certain use case (x16 physical, x4 electrical slot, socketed CPU and RAM, can be fanless with an aftermarket heatsink) but they are not the fastest thing out there.  Then again, they're very inexpensive.  I'd say that for a WAN connection on the order of 500Mbps or less you'll have a hard time beating one for the price.

    Edit:  for 60/20, AM1 with even the lowly Sempron 2650 will be fine.  I have one of those and it was my pfSense router for a while with a 150Mbps WAN and worked great.  OpenVPN throughput suffered a bit, which is why I upgraded to the Athlon 5350.  Then, I downgraded my WAN connection (went from capped 150Mbps to uncapped 50Mbps) which is why I'm able to virtualize on the same hardware without sacrificing even OpenVPN performance.  And you'll also be fine using the integrated Realtek NIC should you choose to do so.



  • @MarioCaires:

    MSI AM1I AMD Mini ITX Motherboard
    AMD APU Sempron 2650 Dual Core Processor, Socket AM1, 1.45GHz, 25W
    DDR3 4Gb RAM

    What do you think of this in terms of performance? Is it going to be enough in terms of the APU?

    Yes!  I had exactly those parts and even at 4x your connection speed it will be more than enough.  It will even saturate your connection with OpenVPN on one core if you want to do that.


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