Will my extra hardware work well for pfSense?

  • I had some old hardware that was origianlly used for a freenas server but was now just collecting dust and I was wondering if it is good enough for a pfSense firewall/router.

    motherboard: ASRock Rack Mini ITX DDR3 1333 Motherboard (C2550D4I)

    • Intel Avoton C2550 Quad-Core Processor
    • DDR3 1600/1333 Dual-channel Max. 64GB UDIMM
    • 2 SATA3 6.0Gbps, 4 SATA2 3.0Gbps by C2550
    • 4 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s by Marvell SE9230, 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s by Marvell SE9172 (To update Marvell SE
    • 9230 FW, please click here)
    • Dual Intel i210 Gigabit LAN ports (with Teaming function)
    • 3 x USB 2.0 ports (2 rear ports + 1 via headers or 1 rear ports + 2 via headers controlled by USB_SEL1 and USB_SEL2 jumper)
    • 1 x PCI-E x8 slot

    Processor: Intel Avoton C2550 Quad-Core Processor
    #of Cores - 4
    #of Threads - 4
    Processor Base Frequency - 2.40 GHz
    Max Turbo Frequency - 2.60 GHz
    Cache - 2 MB
    TDP - 14 W
    Intel® AES New Instructions - Yes

    Memory: Crucial 16GB Kit (8GBx2) DDR3/DDR3L 1600 MT/s (PC3-12800) DR x8 ECC UDIMM

    Hard drive: Extra 2TB WD Green drive, this seems excessive. What size hard drive do you really need for pfSense?

    Im looking to use this just on my home network, which has lots of devices, computers, smarthome items, a freenas server/plex server, and also ip cameras.

    Will this work well for me and also be good for future versions of pfSense?

  • Netgate Administrator

    Yes. 😉

    That should work great I would expect. You almost certainly won't need 16GB RAM but it doesn't hurt.
    You won't be able to use a 2TB HD, pfSense required only minimal install space. I have test boxes running in 2GB. It does try to create a SWAP partition double the RAM size by default. IT will run happily on a 32GB SSD for example.

    What sort of bandwidth do you need to pass? VPNs?


  • My internet provides 100Mb download and 10Mb Up, I do plan on setting up VPN's and using snort and pfBlocker. I believe when using Plex I've seen it use as much as 25MB of bandwidth and theres also some torrenting bandwidth.
    I wasn't sure about using a SSD or usb stick because i saw post about lots of writes burning out flash drives quickly. It actually seems hard to get a small hard drive now. I would prefer to not use the 2TB hard drive but it was literally just laying on my desk, but i'd like to use something that would not be a huge waste and will last.

  • Netgate Administrator

    At 100Mbps you will have no issues at all with that system. You should have no real problems up to 1Gbps though it won't fill 1G with VPN traffic. It will at 100M easily.

    You can use a 2TB drive no problem it will just be 99% unused.

    There is a lot of FUD regarding SSDs and write life. Yes they have limited write-life but any decent drive it will last many many years. They are worlds apart from running on, for example, a CF card where you do have to consider write-life and take steps to minimise writes. You won't have an issue running from an SSD. At least not a write-life related one!


  • Just by way of another data point, I've been running a Zotac CI323 Nano (Intel Celeron N3150, comparison here) with 4GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD. I also have a 100/10 connection, run Snort and pfBlockerNG, and maintain 3 concurrent VPN client connections. I haven't run into any resource constraints or throughput issues.

  • @thenarc thanks for the info, I thought it would be fine. I just wanted to get the opinion of people who have more experience with pfSense than my self.

  • The basic pfsense takes very little resources, until people start to load up packages "because they are there."

    My playbox was a circa 2000 single-core Pentium-III and was idling @ 30% cpu load.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Ha, I think you got me beat there. Pretty sure my first test box was a Pentium-4.


  • Is one of these NIC's preferred over the other?

    Intel PRO/1000 PT QUAD
    Intel PRO/1000 VT QUAD

  • @techsanity VT has more hardware channels; useful for virtualization, doesn't matter for pfsense. get the cheaper one.

  • Make me an offer on your old hardware, because I need to build a NAS box. :)

    Then use the money to buy a Netgate device. :)

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