Motherboard search/comparison



  • Hello all.

    First, I'd like to thank everyone for making pfSense great! Having used pfSense for 4 years now, I am often horrified at how unintuitive consumer and commercial router/firewall boxes are to set up. The features, ease of use, and price (free  ;) ) outweigh all competitors, imo.

    Now, onto the task at hand.  So I am an "advanced" home user looking to add wireless capabilities to my pfSense box. ("advanced" meaning I run a small web/game server through my pfsense) I'm not particularly concerned with throughput, since the AMD K6-2 I have currently is doing a great job, except for being hot and loud and not having enough PCI slots.

    My needs are essentially: 2 ethernet interfaces (for WAN and LAN), a PCI slot for a wi-fi card, and low price. Form factor does not matter, since I have a bunch of old ATX cases laying around, and I already have a (probably unsupported) PCI wi-fi card that I can use.

    I know that many users here know which sites to search for finding boards, but I do not. In my searches, I've uncovered these two boards that appear to meet my needs:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813153144
    and
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813153154

    I've read several places in this forum that Realtek ethernet chipsets are buggy (especially the non-gigabit ones), and the Atom isn't exactly the greatest low-power CPU. There's a US$40 more expensive version of the Via C7 board (second link) that has dual gigabit ethernet, but that seems a bit of a steep increase.

    Are there any better solutions than the ones I've thought of (and reported here)? Any better boards that I just haven't found?

    Thank you.



  • I am actually looking for a small Atom system as well, to replace my old midi-tower Pentium2 which is running pfsense atm.

    Anyone able to recommend some Atom hardware?

    Thanks! :)



  • @darkfoon:

    the Atom isn't exactly the greatest low-power CPU.

    For a home system an Atom (even the single core Atom) probably has more compute power than you need, especially if a K6-2 is enough. But if you have some non-typical requirements you might need more CPU power.

    My home pfSense box has three wired NICs (LAN, WAN and OPT1) and and a wireless NIC. It runs on one of the Jetway motherboards that accept daughter cards. I use the on-board NIC, a one 10/100 NIC daughter card, a USB NIC and a wireless NIC in the PCI slot.  If I had to replace the motherboard I currently use I would probably go for a fanless board such as the Foxconn 45CSX (dual core Atom) or 45CS (single core Atom) or one of the new Intel Atom boards (e.g. D510MO)and use a VLAN capable switch to effectively give me more NICs. The Foxconn boards are not promoted as fanless boards but there is no fan in the pictures so I'd check about the fan before purchase.

    The Intel D510MO is only very recently announced so FreeBSD 7.2 as used in pfSense 1.2.3 predates it so its possible some tweaks would be needed to run FreeBSD on it. I also haven't seen any reports of FreeBSD 7.2 or pfSense 1.2.3 running on the Foxconn boards.

    If you search the forums you should find a number of posts about Atom boards and people posting their experiences.



  • @darkfoon

    I have now a Atom system.
    It is working with PfSense 1.2.3 and has 2x intel 1GBic nic's onboard. :)

    http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,21989.0.html



  • A agree with Infinityloop.  I've done the research recently, and it seems the the MSI IM-945GSE-A is probably the best Atom motherboard for pfSense available currently.

    Just yesterday I discovered the Supermicro X7SPA-H.  It's very similar to the MSI board but has the newer D510 CPU.  That said, I can't find it for sale anywhere yet.  There's also some chance that pfSense won't support some or all of it.  Thread:
    http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,21981.0.html

    Disclaimer: I'm new to pfSense, not actually running pfSense yet, and just looking at the spec sheets.



  • @darkfoon:

    I know that many users here know which sites to search for finding boards, but I do not. In my searches, I've uncovered these two boards that appear to meet my needs:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813153144
    and
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813153154

    I've read several places in this forum that Realtek ethernet chipsets are buggy (especially the non-gigabit ones), and the Atom isn't exactly the greatest low-power CPU. There's a US$40 more expensive version of the Via C7 board (second link) that has dual gigabit ethernet, but that seems a bit of a steep increase.

    Are there any better solutions than the ones I've thought of (and reported here)? Any better boards that I just haven't found?

    Thank you.

    The Realtek NIC coupled with the VIA processor/chipset (even worse) is a double whammy.  I can't say I would recommend your second board at all.

    A agree with Infinityloop.  I've done the research recently, and it seems the the MSI IM-945GSE-A is probably the best Atom motherboard for pfSense available currently.

    Absolutely.



  • @ InfinityLoop

    Thank you for posting a link to your atom pfsense set up. It looks like a very nice set up.  Could you say where you got those parts? I am not certain if that MSI board is available in USA. :(





  • that board is avialble from logic supply where I got mine been really happy with it


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