Network card minimum requirements

  • Hi all,
    I am looking for a couple good quality nics for 2 pfsense boxes.  I can see the bottlenecks at the nics so any recommendations??



  • The forum search function is a handy way of finding answers ;)

    The answer depends on a number of things:

    1. What motherboards are you using this with? There's no point in people suggesting PCIe NICs if your motherboards only have PCI.
    2. What bandwidth will this need to support? If you've only got 10 Mb/s then just about anything will do.
    3. How much do you want to spend?

    The standard advice is that the best choice is always Intel (Server grade) cards.

  • Thanks for the info…  Yes I did lookup and found the answer on the hardware specs...

    I'll have to look at the mobo but PCI is the option.  Standard P4 HT box with 4GB ram  and we will have a 50Meg connection and a 15 meg.  Network is not GB.  I'll look at ebay for some intel nic cards!

    Cost isn't that much of an issue

    Thanks! Sorry for the initial lack of info...


  • You state 50 meg and 15 meg, but is that megabit or megabyte? There is a big difference and all too often they get mixed together and people usually don't clarify. Also is it two connections running at 50 and 15 respectively or is it one connection with 50 down and 15 up? Intel is always a good choice, can't usually go wrong with any Intel card. Broadcom is another good choice right behind Intel. If it's 50Mb/sec then a 10/100 card will do but if it's 50 MB/sec you need to step up to gigabit.

    If it's a P4 HT system it is most likely PCI based but might have some PCIe slots (definitely no PCI-X unless it is a server/workstation class machine which I doubt). PCI cards are getting harder to find for obvious reasons. As you search ebay don't be afraid to look at PCI-X listings, just make sure they are universal keyed and they will fit in a standard 5V PCI slot (working at the slower PCI speeds of course). See here for a picture description:

    If you truly have a 50 MB/sec and 15 MB/sec connection (or a single 50/15 in MB format not Mb), then you need to consider an upgrade to some kind of PCIe or PCI-X card (and system to support it). The reason being, PCI is a shared bus (so is PCI-X but it has a LOT more bandwidth, PCIe isn't shared) and a single gigabit card operating at full tilt can almost saturate the entire PCI bus at 125 of 133 MB/s. That doesn't leave much room for any other PCI connected devices (even embedded devices) which could hog precious system bus bandwidth from your NIC(s) and thus slow down your internet speeds.