New mini-ITX build advice



  • I am new to pfsense, coming from a Draytek Vigor 2130 that appears to have some issues with port overload (Counterpath's term for the problem where RTP audio from one smartphone get's sent to the other) in a network environment that includes Asterisk and several SIP phones, including PC's and smartphones using Bria over wifi.

    I plan to build a fanless mini-ITX box similar to my PBX in a Flash setup:

    Mini-box fanless enclosure
    Intel D525MWV Pinetrail Motherboard
    OCZ 40 GB flash drive
    2 GB DDR3 800 MHz RAM

    I am unsure what network card to get.  The motherboard comes with a single Realtek Gb LAN port, but I would like a total of 3 - 4 Gb ports.  The mboard has one PCI slot and a mini-PCIe slot.  I'm unsure how this would work out mechanically to locate the ethernet ports in the rear of the case.  Any advice on an appropriate NIC?

    I read elsewhere on this forum that more than 2 ethernet ports on a card were not necesarily supported by some mini-ITX boards due to only connecting 2 IRQ lines to the PCIe slot.  I don't see any info on the datasheet related to this issue.

    Thanks for any advice,

    Lifespeed



  • One more thing . . .  I am currently using an Engenius EAP9550 802.11n access point.  I assume this will work fine with pfsense?  I read it doesn't yet support 802.11n WLAN cards, but I think this refers to a PCIe connection not LAN.

    Lifespeed



  • Lifespeed,

    Have you seen this thread:  NF96FL-525-LF?  Different motherboard, but with the addition of a daughter card, you can get 4 NICs and have both the PCI and the mini-PCIe slots free.

    If you stick with the Pinetrail motherboard, then you'll need a different case, as nothing will fit the PCI slot with that enclosure and check the Soekris LAN cards, all work with pfSense.

    Your Engenious EAP9550 will probably be configured thru a web interface, so you would plug this into one of the NICs on your pfSense box and play around with DHCP and IP addresses, your manual should give you some guidance.

    ;)



  • @lifespeed:

    I am unsure what network card to get.  The motherboard comes with a single Realtek Gb LAN port, but I would like a total of 3 - 4 Gb ports.

    There is no way you can get line speed concurrently on 3 to 4 Gb ports on a single PCI slot. For 4 Gb ports you would probably need at least a 4 lane PCI-Express slot.



  • @scooterdouglas:

    Lifespeed,

    Have you seen this thread:  NF96FL-525-LF?  Different motherboard, but with the addition of a daughter card, you can get 4 NICs and have both the PCI and the mini-PCIe slots free.

    If you stick with the Pinetrail motherboard, then you'll need a different case, as nothing will fit the PCI slot with that enclosure and check the Soekris LAN cards, all work with pfSense.

    Your Engenious EAP9550 will probably be configured thru a web interface, so you would plug this into one of the NICs on your pfSense box and play around with DHCP and IP addresses, your manual should give you some guidance.

    ;)

    Thanks for the tips, I'll check the Jetway board.  I definitely want to keep the small case.



  • @wallabybob:

    @lifespeed:

    I am unsure what network card to get.  The motherboard comes with a single Realtek Gb LAN port, but I would like a total of 3 - 4 Gb ports.

    There is no way you can get line speed concurrently on 3 to 4 Gb ports on a single PCI slot. For 4 Gb ports you would probably need at least a 4 lane PCI-Express slot.

    Yes, I want the fast interface.  Are there any Atom boards that can take a PCIe card in a small case?  Is this the gotcha with mini-ITX, no PCIe in the small box?



  • Just a heads up, but that case is rated for <10w TDP, whereasbthe d525 puts out 13 or so. I had to get a case fan for mine because it was running pretty darn hot under low load after a while. Unfortunately my mobo can only control fan speed of PWM fans so it's got way more airflow than it needs now


  • Netgate Administrator

    Worth noting that the desktop atoms DXXX don't feature speedstep so they run a lot hotter even when not under load.

    @ Cronock: Why can't you use PWM speed control on your fan?

    Steve



  • Turns out I have a 1U rack mount unit sitting on top of my Norco 4220 4U RAID array.  All it contains right now is a blu-ray drive for the Norco server.

    I guess I should build an mATX router.  Probably easier to get 4 GB LAN plugged into 4X or 8X PCIe on mATX mboard.  1U could be an issue, though.

    http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,34015.0.html



  • @stephenw10:

    @ Cronock: Why can't you use PWM speed control on your fan?

    the PWM fans are hard to find, nobody carries them locally and I've only seen 2-3 online that are 40mm and most are designed for 1u servers apparently (likely meaning loud)


  • Netgate Administrator

    As far as I know the only difference between pwm fans and 'normal' ones is that pwm fans have 4 wires. The extra wire supplies power to the tachometer in the fan that reports the fans speed. You need this because the pwm control interupts the supply voltage on the two power wires. However if you use a normal, 3 or 2 wire, fan it will still work it just won't return a correct fan speed.

    Steve



  • The 4th pin is the PWM line which tells the fan how fast to go, instead of the motherboard changing voltage on the 12v line. (from what I understand). A 3pin fan can be plugged in but on my board at least the fans will run at 100% all the time.


  • Netgate Administrator

    Hmm, it appears you're right. See here.
    On my box the fan speed can be controlled by the motherboard PWM function which is driven by the SuperIO chip. Although the board has only 3 pin fan connectors the speed adjustment works well. However anything below around 75% pulse width causes the tacho output to fail. The fan still works though.

    Steve


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