Rack Mount pfSense Router Build

  • Greetings,

    Apologies ahead of time for the longer post, but I would like to provide as much detailed information as possible, so that you're able to help me.

    I know there are tons of threads about builds, and I have probably read through them all by now at this point. Unfortunately, none of them really address everything I'm looking for, and if any do, they are likely much older threads, with older hardware that is no longer available and have likely fallen out of date.

    I feel I have a good enough idea on the information I need to provide you all with, so that you can kindly provide me with some options. I am looking for some help with specific components for a pfSense router build. I will list out all of the information that I have thought of that would help you, help me. Again, I am looking for specific URL's pointing to current available components for this build (ie. mobo/cpu/case/power supply/nic etc..).

    I would like to keep this as a low power and energy efficient as possible (it is a router), while still saturating my gigabit internet service, and meeting as much of the criteria listed below as possible. I would like to keep the cost of this between $300-500 if at all possible. Given the fact that I am hearing the NIC is likely one of the most important factors in the build, I don't want to skimp out on this. If this price point is too low for what I'm looking for, I can always piece together some of the other random stuff at my leisure (memory / ssd etc..)

    I am currently running my pfSense router in a virtualized environment, however I would like to have this on it's own dedicated hardware. Given the fact that I just recently moved over to a gigabit connection (1gb/1gb), I need to ensure that I can saturate this connection. After reading many threads, I am more of a realist and understand I cannot achieve everything I want for the price-point I am seeking. While I would certainly like to at some point in the near future implement Open VPN, I am really not too concerned about reaching 500-900mb (as many people through the threads I've read are), but I would like to ensure that it provides the highest throughput possible, while fitting most of the specs below.

    This router, will be for my own personal home use.


    • Looking to build my own router here, not purchase used.
    • Do not want to purchase a pre-built appliance from NetGate.
    • Do not want to purchase a pre-owned Dell R2 or watchdog etc..
    • I have a full server rack in my home, so this build must be rack mountable.
      • I would prefer a 1u Rack Mount Case (Not opposed to 1.5 or 2u case) only if there are issues with sizing etc.
      • Do NOT want small form factor or desktop build etc..
    • I would like to keep this as low power as possible (don't have a number in mind, as low power as we can get it).
    • Absolutely require AES-NI CPU
    • Must saturate my current Gigabit Internet connection
    • Likely will want Open VPN (as high througput as possible)
    • Support for over ~6 VLANS, and potentially dozens of firewall rules / NAT etc..
    • Unlikely, but possibility of supporting SQUID
    • Will need to support IDS, Snort, among other miscellaneous packages (do not want to be limited).
    • As future-proof as much as possible.
    • 4-port Intel NIC

    I am not partial to any brands.
    Would prefer server grade hardware (reliability in very hot server rack), if cost is not going to be a huge issue.

    I really appreciate all of your help, and again, I'm looking for specific hardware (model numbers, and URL's would be fantastic), so that I can compare.

    Thank you!

  • I think this will meet most of your requirements except that it might be a little higher than your price range and would be barebones vs. built completely from scratch:


    I have been using this system for almost two years now on a symmetric gigabit fiber connection and could not be happier. It's a very capable and flexible little box that has no trouble maxing out a gigabit connection even with IDS enabled. There are other Supermicro 1U systems as well (some a bit more powerful, some a bit less) that you can check out as comparisons.

  • Netgate Administrator

    To get the best OpenVPN throughput you should look for a CPU with the highest single-thread performance.


  • @tman222 That does look like a great box, but it is a bit over what I'd like to spend.

    Does anybody else have any recommendations? I'd really like to start ordering some parts soon, so I can begin building. I was hoping to get it up and running before Christmas, but also don't want to just rush anything.

    Thank you for time!