NIC for PFSense



  • I have an old Dell Optiplex 390 SFF pc running proxmox. I want to run PFSense as a VM on proxmox but I am not sure what NIC should I choose. It seems that Intel NICs are the safer choice. Will this NIC work?  or can I just use any single port NIC with the built in Realtek NIC?



  • I feel a bit better going through Amazon, and have several of these : https://www.amazon.com/Intel-Networking-Server-Adapter-expi9402ptblk/dp/B0076Q4CE6/ref=pd_day0_147_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=4FDQHAQ42A3NM33AMW2R and they work well.  I keep hearing, though, about 'fake' intel nics circulating.  All I can say about the ones I got from Amazon (have 3 two port, and 2 four port) is that they work just fine.  They supposedly are 'server pulls' and OEM bulk packaged cards, and the 4 port ones were HP branded with Intel chips.  Can't complain about that.  Don't know about Ebay though…

    I am no fan of Realtek, it's the Hugo of the nic world.  Feel better in a BMW  ;).



  • I got both Amazon and eBay cars, both are fine. All of mine are OEM packaged with no branding whatsoever, no box or anything either. They all came in those plastic intel containers that protect the card. The 2-port versions came with a low profile bracket, the 4-port versions didn't. They were all 2xx and 3xx series, the latest. Have not had 'fake' cards, which AFAIK are not fake, but simply 'hacked' cards that use old chipsets and they just change the PCI ID's to make them appear as better cards than what they actually are. The problems you can run in to are:

    • Less queues than they report to have
    • Some extended features are reported to be available but they aren't actually there (i.e. ISCSI offloads)
    • Thermally bad, they run them too hard and since often people use them without forced airflow they overheat

    I have not had any of those issues, and the PCI ID's always matched with what is printed on the chips.


  • Banned

    @johnkeates:

    Have not had 'fake' cards, which AFAIK are not fake, but simply 'hacked' cards that use old chipsets and they just change the PCI ID's to make them appear as better cards than what they actually are.

    No, the fake cards are not manufactured by Intel. They use the "core" chip from Intel, but the remaining components on the card are very cheap, tend to fail rather quick (sometimes in less than a year) and can damage the mainboard in the worst case.

    @OP

    From personal experience, don't use Realtek with pfSense.

    Best bet would be to look at the NIC chipsets used by the official pfSense hardware and then get a card with one of these chipsets. This way you can be pretty sure that driver bugs will be found early and resolved fast.



  • @dryteletubby:

    I have an old Dell Optiplex 390 SFF pc running proxmox. I want to run PFSense as a VM on proxmox but I am not sure what NIC should I choose. It seems that Intel NICs are the safer choice. Will this NIC work?  or can I just use any single port NIC with the built in Realtek NIC?

    The NIC in the link will work fine, but it's a bit pricey.  I just bought 2 NC360Ts for $18 US shipped on ebay, for reference.



  • Intel i340-T4 or Intel Pro 1000 PT cards ware really matching well if you are searching some refurbished cards
    and for sure you will be able to get faked once over each available place in the Internet as well as you will be able
    to get server pulled once too or original card from elsewhere. It is a try and error game cross the Internet, but there
    are also well known dealers over amazon.de or.com that are selling since years refurbished products that are tested
    before selling in good conditions and with a really good reputation. So I would be also tend to go over amazon,
    more then eBay in this case.



  • @BlueKobold:

    Intel i340-T4 or Intel Pro 1000 PT cards ware really matching well if you are searching some refurbished cards
    and for sure you will be able to get faked once over each available place in the Internet as well as you will be able
    to get server pulled once too or original card from elsewhere. It is a try and error game cross the Internet, but there
    are also well known dealers over amazon.de or.com that are selling since years refurbished products that are tested
    before selling in good conditions and with a really good reputation. So I would be also tend to go over amazon,
    more then eBay in this case.

    Also check those WEEE remarking companies. They often have shops on eBay and Amazon and they basically exist purely to recycle server hardware. I think http://www.bargainhardware.co.uk and http://stores.ebay.com/7digitsshop/ are examples, but depending on your country you can probably find local resellers.

    Check this out: http://stores.ebay.com/7digitsshop/Network-Interface-Adapters-/_i.html?_fsub=1396722016 a whole bunch of tested working pulls with warranty, but about 10% of the price of a new one. Now, this is only a third option, and not the cheapest option either, as you can still find I3xx and I2xx series dual and quad port cards elsewhere for as little as $15 but they can be a hit-and-miss deal. With those remarketing/recycling/WEEE companies, at least you know it's tested and warranted.



  • Not to say this is an issue exclusive to Ebay, but I have seen fake intel cards on Ebay. When I say fake, the circle around the intel logo looked like it was hand drawn. At least the seller was nice enough to zoom in really close on that, so they weren't even trying to hide it. My rule of thumb is to avoid the "brand new" or "new" ones that come directly from China. Ebay has a filter that lets you only see products based in the US. The other giveaway is the low price on a brand new two port Intel nic.

    I just ordered two that were used off Ebay, link below. I might still be getting duped, but I feel better if it's a US based seller, with a description that states pulled from new system never in service. Also, the price is in the ball park of what I would expect to pay for a one port Intel Gigabit NIC.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-EXPI9301CT-CTPL-Gigabit-PCI-e-Network-Adapter-OEM-F3-M/352147586727?epid=1377015223&hash=item51fda1bea7:g:XOIAAOSwvOdZnE8I#rwid



  • @raffi30:

    Not to say this is an issue exclusive to Ebay, but I have seen fake intel cards on Ebay. When I say fake, the circle around the intel logo looked like it was hand drawn. At least the seller was nice enough to zoom in really close on that, so they weren't even trying to hide it. My rule of thumb is to avoid the "brand new" or "new" ones that come directly from China. Ebay has a filter that lets you only see products based in the US. The other giveaway is the low price on a brand new two port Intel nic.

    I just ordered two that were used off Ebay, link below. I might still be getting duped, but I feel better if it's a US based seller, with a description that states pulled from new system never in service. Also, the price is in the ball park of what I would expect to pay for a one port Intel Gigabit NIC.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-EXPI9301CT-CTPL-Gigabit-PCI-e-Network-Adapter-OEM-F3-M/352147586727?epid=1377015223&hash=item51fda1bea7:g:XOIAAOSwvOdZnE8I#rwid

    I have never actually bought a card from a USA seller, it's too far away and too expensive. Most of my cards come from the UK and Germany but there have been a few China sellers with good reputation that got me some good working pulls.



  • The first thing you do when you get your NIC or other Intel device is check the YottaMark and make sure all of the serial numbers match and Intel has a site to validate serial numbers and YottaMarks.



  • @Harvy66:

    The first thing you do when you get your NIC or other Intel device is check the YottaMark and make sure all of the serial numbers match and Intel has a site to validate serial numbers and YottaMarks.

    I received my NIC's. They don't have a YottaMark. I think that's normal on the model I have (EXPI9301CT). I couldn't find a place to validate the serial number on the Intel site, so I checked the warranty on it instead. That also requires the serial number. So in case anyone has the same trouble I had validating their Intel NIC, check the warrant info on it. If it's legit, it should come up with some kind of warranty information.

    Another tip, if you purchase a "pulled from OEM system" NIC card on Ebay or elsewhere, check the gold plated fingers for wear. It should have at least a tiny mark on them indicating they were actually in a system at one point. That's actually a good thing in this case! Also, when checking the Intel warranty information, it should state something along the lines of contact the system manufacturer for support. This means it was in fact an OEM card that came with a system.



  • It could be because of OEM, but according to https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000007074/network-and-i-o/ethernet-products.html Intel® Gigabit CT NICs should have a yottamark.

    https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000007074/network-and-i-o/ethernet-products.html

    This article applies to:
    Active Products

    Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X540-T1 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X540-T2 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-T2 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-SR2
    Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-SR1 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-QDA1 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-LR1 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-DA2 Intel® 10 Gigabit AF DA Dual Port Server Adapter Intel® 10 Gigabit AT2 Server Adapter Intel® 10 Gigabit XF SR Server Adapter Intel® 10 Gigabit XF SR Dual Port Server Adapter Intel® Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter  Intel® Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 CT Network Connection Intel® PRO/1000 CT Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 GT Desktop Adapter Intel® PRO/1000 GT Desktop Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 MT Desktop Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 PM Network Connection Intel® PRO/1000 PM Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 PT Desktop Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 T Desktop Adapter Series Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter I210-T1 Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter I340-F4 Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter I340-T4 Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter I350-T2 Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter I350-T4 Intel® Gigabit EF Dual Port Server Adapter Intel® Gigabit ET2 Quad Port Server Adapter Intel® Gigabit ET Dual Port Server Adapter Intel® Gigabit ET Quad Port Server Adapter Intel® PRO/1000 GT Quad Port Server Adapter

    The only official way to tell if you have a "Genuine Intel® Network Adapter" is the yottamark, according to their website. There may be exceptions, but their website makes it sound like no yottamark means it's not genuine.



  • @Harvy66:

    It could be because of OEM, but according to https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000007074/network-and-i-o/ethernet-products.html Intel® Gigabit CT NICs should have a yottamark.

    https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000007074/network-and-i-o/ethernet-products.html

    This article applies to:
    Active Products

    Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X540-T1 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X540-T2 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-T2 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-SR2
    Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-SR1 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-QDA1 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-LR1 Intel® Ethernet Converged Network Adapter X520-DA2 Intel® 10 Gigabit AF DA Dual Port Server Adapter Intel® 10 Gigabit AT2 Server Adapter Intel® 10 Gigabit XF SR Server Adapter Intel® 10 Gigabit XF SR Dual Port Server Adapter Intel® Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter  Intel® Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 CT Network Connection Intel® PRO/1000 CT Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 GT Desktop Adapter Intel® PRO/1000 GT Desktop Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 MT Desktop Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 PM Network Connection Intel® PRO/1000 PM Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 PT Desktop Adapter Series Intel® PRO/1000 T Desktop Adapter Series Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter I210-T1 Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter I340-F4 Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter I340-T4 Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter I350-T2 Intel® Ethernet Server Adapter I350-T4 Intel® Gigabit EF Dual Port Server Adapter Intel® Gigabit ET2 Quad Port Server Adapter Intel® Gigabit ET Dual Port Server Adapter Intel® Gigabit ET Quad Port Server Adapter Intel® PRO/1000 GT Quad Port Server Adapter

    The only official way to tell if you have a "Genuine Intel® Network Adapter" is the yottamark, according to their website. There may be exceptions, but their website makes it sound like no yottamark means it's not genuine.

    Interesting, I actually was a bit worried about not seeing the YottaMark. I did a little more homework though. I had a chat session with an Intel support rep. He said the PBA number I gave him indicated it's a retail card and not an OEM. The seller stated it was pulled from a new system and title stated OEM. It may have been a retail card installed in a system… maybe... who knows, but not according to the Intel rep. He then was nice enough to check an actual EXPI9301CT card he had in his lab. He confirmed it did not have a YottaMark sticker on it. He said they probably started to implement the YottaMark sticker after that model card.
    I also mentioned to the rep that the warranty information based on the model and serial number checked out as valid, but I found it odd that it had a warranty till 2067. He didn't seem concerned about the 50 year warranty. He said all Intel cards have a lifetime warranty.
    I also checked a major reseller like Newegg. The same EXPI9301CT retail card shipped and sold by newegg did not have a YottaMark sticker on it. I doubt they would resell fakes. Maybe a third party seller on Newegg might, but not Newegg themselves.

    I do feel much better about it not having the YottaMark and the fact that the warranty info checked out. FIY, in case anyone else has these concerns.



  • Nice to know. Annoying that Intel lists that NIC as supporting the yottamark when it does not come with one. It's quite confusing.



  • @Harvy66:

    Nice to know. Annoying that Intel lists that NIC as supporting the yottamark when it does not come with one. It's quite confusing.

    I agree, it was confusing. The page on Intel's site about the Yottamark even shows the "Intel Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter Series" as a model which that article applies to. The EXPI9301CT is one of those. I should have mentioned that to the rep to clear that up on the webpage.



  • I ordered a bunch of Intel NICs (actually Desktop PCI adapters) a while back, some had the mark, some didn't, yet they all were identical (except production date).
    It seems some older cards were produced around the time the YottaMark was introduced and that's why some simply don't have that sticker.


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