Best Low Budget Low Power Hardware for Gigabit Internet



  • I am looking to replace my current system (8 year old dell desktop with a dual-core 2.8Ghz AMD and Dual Intel Gigabit NIC that I bought open box at a Best Buy for $300 one night when my older box died) which runs my internet just fine (I have gigabit fiber up and down, I get 940+ both ways through my current PC without breaking a sweat).  I'd like to cut the power way back and go with a low power system, but most of the ones I have seen don't have a fast enough CPU to push full gigabit (literally I'm just doing NAT and some basic IPSec (0.1% of the traffic), and when I've tested the systems available I cap out somewhere in the 600-700Mbit range).  In an ideal world I'd like to just buy a built system, but am willing to put together a system if necessary.  Just want to keep it as low cost as possible.

    Anyone have ideas/recommendations?



  • Whats the exact CPU that you have now?



  • Current System is

    Dell Inspiron 570
    AMD Athlon™ II X2 250 Processor 3.0Ghz (I thought it was 2.8Ghz)
    4GB of RAM
    500GB Hard Drive
    Broadcom BCM57780 A1 (motherboard), NOT USED
    RealTek 8169/8169S/8169SB(L)/8110S/8110SB(L) Gigabit Ethernet, NOT USED
    2 x Intel(R) PRO/1000 Network Connection 7.6.1-k (WAN and LAN)

    When I purchased it I needed something that night, so I purchased the RealTek card to get up and running immediately.  I purchased the Dual Intel NIC later on when I switched to pfSense.

    My concern is it's getting ANCIENT, sucks up a ton of power, and generates a ton of heat.

    But as I said I paid $300 dollars for it open box at Best Buy in 2009, and another $100 for the dual nic.  I literally only have $400 in a box that I've used for 8 years.  :-)



  • specs show it at 3Ghz and a 65w CPU.  PCStats website says typical power draw is around 128w idle and almost 150w stressed.  CPU Bench puts it at 1749/1008 CPU marks (multicore/single core).  CPU World doesn't show and AES support.  Based on that and your desire for low power I would say almost anything relatively recent will do.  You can get the chineses made 1037U boxes (or J1900/2900) relatively cheap.  These are typically 15w and under CPU.  The 1037u is 17w and gets 1743/951 CPU Marks so it comparable to your AII 250.

    If you want a bit more OOMPH and future proofing grab something like the G3900T.  35w, CPU Bench 2944/1510 with AES-NI support.  You can get them cheap and build your own mini-itx or get a complete SFF system on ebay for under $200.  If you don't care about AES-NI something like a G1610T (2327/1310) would be even cheaper.



  • @Nnyan:

    specs show it at 3Ghz and a 65w CPU.  PCStats website says typical power draw is around 128w idle and almost 150w stressed.  CPU Bench puts it at 1749/1008 CPU marks (multicore/single core).  CPU World doesn't show and AES support.  Based on that and your desire for low power I would say almost anything relatively recent will do.  You can get the chineses made 1037U boxes (or J1900/2900) relatively cheap.  These are typically 15w and under CPU.  The 1037u is 17w and gets 1743/951 CPU Marks so it comparable to your AII 250.

    If you want a bit more OOMPH and future proofing grab something like the G3900T.  35w, CPU Bench 2944/1510 with AES-NI support.  You can get them cheap and build your own mini-itx or get a complete SFF system on ebay for under $200.  If you don't care about AES-NI something like a G1610T (2327/1310) would be even cheaper.

    Yeah my concern is can these systems handle pushing at a full gigabit in/out via just pure NAT?  The J1900 I tested couldn't.  I'll dig around some more.



  • Middle ground might be a socketed ITX board with one of the Kaby Lake Pentiums or Celerons.  Not as low power as embedded but so much more powerful, and more importantly, the motherboard choices are much more numerous.  The hard part with embedded is finding the combination of the right CPU on a board with multiple quality NICs OR finding a board with at least a PCIe-x4 slot (usually this means x16) for your NIC.  It's not easy to find.  You've already said the J1900 didn't do it for you. Next step up is the Apollo Lake series; the N3350 and so on, but finding those in a board with the right NICs and/or a suitable PCIe slot is challenging on a budget.  Stepping up to "server class" boards from the likes of Supermicro or ASRock Rack will give you a lot more choices but kind of shoots the "budget" part of your requirement out the window.

    I saw your post in another thread about your current hardware running circles around the budget low power stuff; that rings true.  Low power, cheap, and high performance.  Pick 2.  I don't think you can have all three.



  • @Zaphon:

    Yeah my concern is can these systems handle pushing at a full gigabit in/out via just pure NAT?  The J1900 I tested couldn't.  I'll dig around some more.

    The cheapest skylake or kaby lake will run rings around a j1900. Focus on finding a motherboard that you like at a price you like. If you go with an add-in NIC you don't need a x4 slot (PCIe 2 x1 is more than enough for gigabit ethernet) but you do need something that will fit a x4 card (so a x16 slot with x1 electrical or an open-ended x1 slot would be fine).



  • @VAMike:

    PCIe 2 x1 is more than enough for gigabit ethernet

    That's true but I haven't seen a competent 2 or more port card for an x1 interface, hence my suggestion.



  • @whosmatt:

    @VAMike:

    PCIe 2 x1 is more than enough for gigabit ethernet

    That's true but I haven't seen a competent 2 or more port card for an x1 interface, hence my suggestion.

    That's because they will work on a PCIe 1 system, which does need more than x1 for dual gigabit ethernet (and the target market is servers which pretty much don't even have x1 slots so who cares). Assuming a current system with PCIe 2 (or 3) you only need to worry about the mechanical interface when shopping, not the electrical interface. The extra lines will hang off the back of the slot and won't bother anything.



  • @VAMike:

    @Zaphon:

    Yeah my concern is can these systems handle pushing at a full gigabit in/out via just pure NAT?  The J1900 I tested couldn't.  I'll dig around some more.

    The cheapest skylake or kaby lake will run rings around a j1900. Focus on finding a motherboard that you like at a price you like. If you go with an add-in NIC you don't need a x4 slot (PCIe 2 x1 is more than enough for gigabit ethernet) but you do need something that will fit a x4 card (so a x16 slot with x1 electrical or an open-ended x1 slot would be fine).

    Yeah I'm looking at a board with a kaby lake processor.  The problem is it's more expensive than the current system I have which I bought 8 years ago.  I would have expected prices to go down, but I'm not comparing apples to apples.  More like apples to oranges.



  • @Zaphon:

    Yeah I'm looking at a board with a kaby lake processor.  The problem is it's more expensive than the current system I have which I bought 8 years ago.  I would have expected prices to go down, but I'm not comparing apples to apples.  More like apples to oranges.

    Well, without any number it's hard to say if your expectations are realistic. Right now I'd expect you can find a mitx motherboard+1 intel ethernet, cpu, and 4G ram for <$150. Then add at least one more NIC port, case, power supply, and storage. Maybe ~$250-300 total?


  • Banned

    How about a $55 J3355 ITX
    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157726

    A $20 i340-t2
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/IBM-I340-T2-Dual-Port-Ethernet-Adapter-Card-49Y4232-/332093948632?hash=item4d525782d8:g:cykAAOSwjDZYfPtF

    $16 for 4GB RAM
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Laptop-Memory-Samsung-2GB-1Rx8-PC3-10600S-9-10-ZZZ-DDR3-M471B5773CHS-CH9-/381946490666?hash=item58edc8ef2a:g:DIIAAOSwux5YLNQX

    If the old computers case and PSU still work, throw it all in there and call it a day.

    If a 2009 AMD dual core @ 3.0GHz + PRO/1000 can meet your needs "without breaking a sweat" I'm betting a 2016 Intel dual core @ 2.0GHz + i340 will do it too.

    $91