Hardware for running ESXi with VMs and Pfsense

  • Hi Everybody, this is my first post here. I have been reading the forum for some time and I finally decided to buy some hardware to run Pfsense and some VMs for a homelab.

    I got my CCNA certification some days ago and I will do the Security + in a few months. I have been working in bluecoat for 2 years so I have a lot of experience with secure gateway solutions. The fact that Pfsense is able to a lot of things that bluecoat products do but for free is incredible.

    After my introduction, lets go to the topic itself.

    I have 2 Cisco switches in my home and I wanted a low power server to run 10 hours a day or so, that can handle a windows server, NAS server, pfsense (with snort, VPN, ect), GNS3… all for testing, no high speeds needs to be achived.

    The hardware needs to be under 200 dollars because that way, I can send it to my country without paying customs taxes.

    What do you guys think about this server: http://www.ebay.com/itm/1U-Small-PFSense-Firewall-Router-3Ghz-Quad-Core-8GB-RAM-4x-1GBE-NIC-No-Drive-/142441977965?hash=item212a34186d:g:IOUAAOSwqVBZY~dO

    Pros: 4 NICs, Low power, good CPU, great MB.

    Cons: ???


  • Banned

    No AES-NI means that it will not be supported in pfSense 2.5, which will be in a couple of years.

  • A couple of years is a lot of time, so I should be good for now.
    However, I was thinking to buy this one instead: http://www.ebay.com/itm/1U-Server-Supermicro-X8STI-F-Intel-Xeon-L5630-Quad-Core-16GB-RAM-2x-3-5-HD-Bay-/152606623062?hash=item2388104556:g:2FEAAOSwiQ9ZVqEs

    CPU that has AES-NI and has a lower power consumption.+
    The only issue is that it has only 2 NICs, but I have a 4 port NIC (D-Link DFE-570TX) that should work fine for running VMs. I would use the 2 intel NIC on the MB for pfsense.

  • Banned

    Well I don't know why you would intentionally buy something that is planned for obsolescence?

    If buying rack mount is a must then that's fine. That Xeon is a dog though. It's got less computing power than a modern Pentium.

    Your best performance/$ buy is going to be an eBay desktop. It's flooded with SFF workstations. My pfSense box was an $80 eBay buy with an i5-2400, notably faster than that Xeon with AES-NI, Vt-d+x.

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    "why you would intentionally buy something that is planned for obsolescence?"

    Wouldn't this be pretty much anything you purchase?  Nothing is planned to last forever ;)  Just saying…

    2 or 3 years is a not a bad refresh period.. So buying something now, with a refresh of 3 years would prob cover him until 2.5 comes out or 2.4.x drops off support at least.. Not like pfsense timelines for releases are hard set ;)  Never know 2.5 might be 4 years out, or maybe something changes and aes-ni is not a requirement when 2.5 comes out, etc..

    But I do agree with you buying something that you know will be outdated in period that is less than your normal refresh plan is not a good idea.

  • Banned

    True, but pfSense runs so well on slow hardware your refresh period for a home box could be until your current hardware store stops working. That could potentially be a very long time.

  • Thanks both for replying.

    I already bought this one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/1U-Server-Supermicro-X8STI-F-Intel-Xeon-L5630-Quad-Core-16GB-RAM-2x-3-5-HD-Bay-/152606623062?hash=item2388104556:g:2FEAAOSwiQ9ZVqEs

    The CPU is great for what I want (running VMs and pfsense), has AES-NI, Hyper-Threading, and a TDP of 40W!
    The other parts are also perfect, It has 2 Intel NIC, 16gb of RAM and I can put the server in my rack.

    Is going to take a couple of weeks before it gets here (Uruguay, south america), I will let you know how it went by then.

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