Pfsense wireless router - good card?

  • I need to replace my failing DD-WRT based router. I am looking to build a pfsense based router with wireless built in (the wireless is whats failing on my current one).

    I have searched the net and these forums and it seems that atheros cards are the best supported ones in pfsense (per the sticky posts at the top of the forum). I am intending to build a new router with an Atom D510 based board with a mini-PCIe slot and use a mini-PCIe wireless card for access point duty.

    Is the one in this link a good choice for pfsense?



  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    If that works at all, it wouldn't yet work with 802.11n rates.

    You're better off with an a/b/g card rather than n. Some of the n cards will work as a/b/g, but there is no real way to know until you try.

  • I actually don't need/want N. I really just need G. I only picked that card based on the info I found on the forum here and the availability of atheros mini-pcie cards on ebay.

    Is there a better choice for an atheros mini-pcie card that you could suggest?



  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    I don't know any mini-pcie cards personally, others may have to chime in and offer part numbers to try.

    The one you found may work OK on pfSense 2.0, but it isn't listed in the man page that I see (though I am a couple months behind on -STABLE). The cards listed are AR5210, AR5211, AR5212, and AR5416, but we know that some others do work that are not on that list. The FreeBSD hardware notes for 7.2 and 8.0 state that ath supports "all Atheros Cardbus or PCI cards, except those that are based on the AR5005VL" but it's hard to say for certain.

    This post seems to suggest it does not, in fact, work:

  • One of the chips in that card from bob76535's link is probably the 5416 or 5418.  The included antennas are intended for a laptop and will be worthless for this use.  Also, that card doesn't support 5 GHz channels.  You could get one that doesn't have those bundled antennas you don't need and supports 5 GHz channels for a little less money.  I seem to recall that the 5418 was detected as a 5416 by FreeBSD and I've been able to successfully use a 5416 (and at least with no less features than the non-N models).  I do remember hearing of someone successfully using a 5418 as well.

    If you search eBay for atheros 5418, you can find some people selling mini-PCIe versions with 3 antenna ports, supporting 802.11a/b/g/n, for $20.  If you do get an 802.11n card, I'd recommend connecting as many antennas as it has ports for.

    Some notes:  I've never used a mini-PCIe card on FreeBSD (only PCI and mini-PCI), so I don't really know anything about whether it works.  pfSense 1.2.3 does not recognize 802.11n cards in the web GUI, so the selection for the wireless standard does not work on there (this has been fixed in 2.0).  It tries to use '802.11a ht' or '802.11g ht' for the modes, which are not valid selections.  Generally this probably isn't an issue, but it does mean that on 1.2.3 you are stuck with whatever mode the driver uses by default.  This means you may not be able to select 802.11a or 802.11b on 1.2.3 when you have a card supporting 802.11n.

  • Ok. I follow what you are saying regarding the N card.

    It would seem I would be better off with one of these then: <–This one is a 5212


    Thanks for the help. Once I get all the parts I will post about using a mini-pcie card if it works.


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