Another atom 330 question

  • Hi!
    I was thinking of throwing out my d-link router at home due to its proven lack of capacity.
    What im looking for is a low power option to be used running pfsense. At he moment im using a desktop p4 for pfsense but i was thinking och replacing this.
    My first thought was a jetway atom 330 bord, jnc92 with the extra ports giving me 4 gblan ports and a wlan card.

    Usually this is only to handle 2-5 users. Though it should handle p2p and ftp traffic up to 30mbit/sec (hopefully 100mbit/sec as well) and it should also be able to manage
    20-30 people primarily gaming. I am also planning on setting upp 3-4 inbound vpn cons on it, 2 designated for a webserver.

    I guess i could go for a micro-atx board thoretically and get more value for money. But i was really interested in the size of mini-itx chassis + i think i have enough desktop / tower computers using up power as it is(have 5 computers in the house atm that is being used).

    What could i expect from an atom 330 dual core? Is any of this a problem for it? If so, any recommendations for a similar cost, low power alternative?
    My primary instinct was to get one of these:
    But looking over cost and hardware spec i thoguht taht building an atom box would give me more flexibility+power and at the same time would allow me to convert in to a light desktop if i where to change my mind in teh future for some reason.

    PS: I know there is some griefing about realtek nics but i havent noticed any problems at all with my current reltek nics in the desktop + not running any major corporation so i have a hard time seeing the problem there as long as it works?

  • I'm personally not a fan of the Atom for any purpose.  That said, network routing, NAT, and firewalling do not really require a huge amount of CPU or RAM.  The big thing is to have good NICs.  A cheap NIC will use considerably more CPU since it forces a lot of work that can be done in the NIC onto the CPU.  The JNC92 includes a Realtek gigabit NIC.  Realtek has a bad history of producing really crappy ethernet chips, but I have heard that they have a few good gigabit chips.  If you are intending to use an Atom, I'd highly suggest getting something with Intel NICs onboard.  They have very good drivers and don't unnecessarily force the CPU to do work.  This really becomes an issue if you are pushing 100MB/s though all the ports simultaneously.

    In general, the more firewall rules you add, the more CPU you need.  Similarly, the more users you have, the more RAM you need to hold all the states.

  • I've got an Atom 330 box (running Ubuntu) and given that you've got a pair of 1.6 GHz cores, plus hyperthreading, you'll be hard pushed to stress it on pfSense, even if you run Snort ;)

    The built in NICs should be fine - it's only been Realtek low end (non Gbit) NICs that have been terrible.  Intel chipsets are generally a better choice though.

    My Atom 330 box is using the built in Gbit Realtek chip and, other than a bug in the Linux driver that comes with my version of Ubuntu, the box has been solid as a rock.

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