MSI WindBox II … anyone tried it as a pfSense box yet ?

  • Considering the purchase of an MSI WindBox II

    Anyone have any exposure to it and/or gave pfSense 1.2.3 or 2.x a whirl on it yet ?

  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    The atom chip and Intel LAN would probably work fine, depending on their specifics. It doesn't say what Wireless chip it has though.

    I didn't turn up anything on a quick web search for FreeBSD on there, it'll probably take someone actually buying one and trying it to really know, though.

  • No worries
    Wireless is secondary .. most likely remove it/disable it for now.
    I have WAPs running all over the place and the only thing the WiFi might be used for is a Captive Portal down the road.
    Will most likely order this soon with the VESA mounting plate and config it with 2GB + 64GB SSD that I have available.

    Will report my findings once it arrives :)

  • Nice little box!! I'm in need of a new box and haven't decided what I want to use yet. Let us know how it turns out for you… Alittle pricey i think with only 1g of memory but your paying for the form factor..

  • According to my friend that has tried this for its actual intended use (driving HD digital signs) its underpowered.

    The only real appeal is the form factor for VESA mounting on the back of an LCD TV, and you can get that from a Mini-BOX M350 (best Mini-ITX enclosure I've seen on the market) based unit with better cooling.

    If your target application is wifi and you know of a supported pcie-mini card you like, look at the intel D510MO board in an M350 enclosure.

  • ???  
    The Intel D510MO Mini-ITX board/M350 case combo offers no second NIC option at all .. so I don't follow you on that one.

    And I would expect that driving an HD sign (either photo or video based) would be quite a different task compared to pfSense .. yes ?

    Pricing is a matter of perspective …. if you look at all the $$ that could be spent on a wishlist for a custom rig with good industrial Intel stuff, etc ... it all adds up quickly.

    The WindBoxII config available at LogicSupply is $459 with dual Intel NICs, Wifi (chip unknown), 1GB RAM, 160GB HDD.  
    I have systems ready to recycle the RAM & HDD into so I can take the WindBoxII to 2GB/64GB SSD.

    I would hope that it should be able to handle all the fun that I need now ... and down the road a bit as well.

  • I didn't think the windbox had a second ether.  At least the model that MSI was trying to flog at me (might have been a preproduction design) at the Embedded Systems Expo in Tokyo last year didn't (which killed it as an option for my project at the time).

    For a dedicated wireless rig (ether wan, wireless lan, no wired inside) I think you could cut your cost by quite a bit though (depending on your external antenna choice), even using good kit.  You're paying for the form factor with that box really.

    I priced out a similar system (2 intel ethers, known-pfsense-supported Atheros wireless card, but a D510 CPU) using the M350 enclosure and it came out to $375-380, about $300 if you can get away with a single non-intel-ether platform (no wired LAN)

    The typical D510 motherboard draws about half the power of an N270+945G option like the MSI and throws off less heat.  The Windboxes I saw on display in Tokyo felt quite warm to the touch.

  • You're making my head hurt :)

    The MSI WindBox II has the dual Intel GBLAN … the MSI WindBox has the single NIC.

    As for D510 mini-itx with dual Intel GBLAN, all I can find out in the WWW is one from Supermicro

    But the local suppliers show it as at least 2 weeks out and at a price of $250+shipping+taxes.
    Would still need to get case, P/S, RAM, HDD, etc

    Are you suggesting I should wait, hold off on the MSI, and build a D510 in an M350 ??

  • I've seen a couple places that claim availability of the X7SPA-H in the $170 range, but they're in the US and I haven't bothered to verify that.

    If you need something right away you'll probably be OK with the MSI but make sure you investigate the support status of the wireless card and that the heat issues are OK.

    Of course, depending on how you value your time and if you don't really need the extra core and memory capacity the convenience of buying a preintegrated box may outweigh the raw cost difference.

  • After much deliberation, I think it's worth the wait for the D510 product.
    The performance difference is too hard to ignore.  Almost double actually.
    It will be hard to be patient … in the mean time I'll snag an M350 ... so it's ready and waiting

  • @evildave:

    I've seen a couple places that claim availability of the X7SPA-H in the $170 range, but they're in the US and I haven't bothered to verify that.

    Check out Provantage -

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