General questions about hardware

  • Hi
    I'm about to take the plunge into pfSense but I have some hesitations.

    First off here is a diagram of what I'm thinking of implementing

    I expect that there will be as many as 30 devices in the next year or so.  Most users are fairly heavy users (uploading 1080p video, streaming videos etc.)

    I was thinking of using a board like this SUPERMICRO MBD-X7SPE-H-O Mini ITX Intel Atom D510 processor Server Motherboard

    This is the switch that I'm considering NETGEAR GS724T-300NAS

    I've never bought a server or switch before so I want to make sure I'm doing this right.

    My questions I'm hoping you can answer are

    • I'm assuming that processor should have no problem keeping up with a firewall and other basic tasks.  Is this true?

    • I've gathered that using Intel lan ports will be relively painless.  I'm I right in thinking that this will be easy to set up.  Also will adding more intel ports with the pci-e slot be painless too

    • A general question about networking in general, will daisy chaining two switches cause any problems.  I don't think that the line will be saturated.

    • Is this a good set up?  Would some standard router be okay in this situation.  Using pfSense kind of looked like the more interesting and fun way of completing this task, but I'm not sure if this best/easiest, or if another router would just as easily accomplish this task.

    Thank you kindly for any advice you have.

  • Have you considered a barebone supermicro package? eg.
    If not then the board will do just fine.

    As far as the switch goes will you be needing fiber in the future? If not then save the money and get something simpler. You don't necessarily need gigabit speeds on the LAN unless your clients are going to need that much throughput on the LAN (for something like a NAS). Although I would recommend gagabit for your backbone switch.

    For your specifics

    • The processor will be fine. Take a look at

    • The Intel NICs will be fine. My fav is the 8257X family

    • Multiple switches on the same LAN will not affect performance. STP prevents problems. Just build your network like a triangle with a single backbone switch at the top

    • This is a good setup for a small network (~100 users). Using a store bought router will not be able to do what you need.

    pfsense isn't as difficult as you may have orginially thought. Just remember the networking basics and pfsense will blow you away.

  • Hi tommyboy

    Thanks for the reply, it's greatly appreciated. 
    We might need fiber in the future.  We looked at quotes but they want $1700/mo. for 15/15 + 5 year contract :o….oh Canada.
    I'm definitely interested in throwing a NAS box in here at some point, so that it is a consideration.

    One last concern I had was will I be able to do multi-wan traffic shaping on this setup.  I was reading the "pfSense: The Definitive Guide" that there were hardware concerns here.  I was thinking I would use 2.0RC1.  Are there hardware requirements that I should consider here?  The general impression I've gotten is that multi-wan + traffic shaping can be a recipe for a headache.

  • Luder…

    You could always setup a test box and see how it goes... even perhaps on lesser hardware to get your feet wet...
    I am in agreement with Tommyboy about the network setup posted also. If you have a good basic design with a quality switch and Intel cards you should be able to do this easily.
    Reading some of the threads here and seeing people who are scaling PFS in larger environments your setup here should be no issue.


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