ITX based low-power and high perf pfsense box



  • Hello,

    As a lot of people i was looking for a mini-itx solution, green, silent, and not too expensive that would allow me to provide good perfs (my needs included snort and fast IPsec tunnels)
    So… with the huge gap between freebsd releases and pf-sense, my main problem was to find an itx motherboard with 2 embedded Nics.. that would be recognized by Pfsense... this seems to be impossible according to all informations i've seen here...

    My first idea was to go to an i5T cpu for the AES instructions... but as it won't be supported by PFsense until 2.1... i looked for something that will allow me to upgrade to one of thoose CPU in the future without having to rebuild everything..

    So, i went for a small Pentium 620T (35W, but i'll try to downclock it), a Zotac Z68 itx board... and as the 2 realtek nics of this card was supposed to be unavailable with pfsense 2.0, i also picked an expensive Intel dual ports nic....

    The pfsense latest rc install occured well... without the intel nic ! (i haven't received it yet)
    So, the 2 realtek embedded nics are recognized (as well as the embedded Atheros wifi !)

    My advice, if you're looking to ibuild an itx based pfsense... forget the Atom based solutions... and go to this z68 motherboard...
    ( and don't do my mistake, don't buy a unusefull 150 € Intel nic  :) )



  • Interesting. Both of my pfSense builds are using low power Mini-ITX Atom GM1 boards from Jetway. Now, I did research on the Realtek NICs and decided against using them. Instead, I used Intel and D-Link (Marvel) adapters in my builds. To date, these boxes have been running 24x7 since Sept 2009 and have only been rebooted when upgrading firmware.



  • @tanfav:

    My advice, if you're looking to ibuild an itx based pfsense… forget the Atom based solutions... and go to this z68 motherboard...
    ( and don't do my mistake, don't buy a unusefull 150 € Intel nic  :) )

    I built a pfSense box with a D525 Atom board and it's been running great, booting off a 2GB flash drive. Specs are in my sig. It currently draws 16W.

    https://www.dropbox.com/gallery/9284282/1/pfSense?h=a2a260



  • @kyronax:

    @tanfav:

    My advice, if you're looking to ibuild an itx based pfsense… forget the Atom based solutions... and go to this z68 motherboard...
    ( and don't do my mistake, don't buy a unusefull 150 € Intel nic  :) )

    I built a pfSense box with a D525 Atom board and it's been running great, booting off a 2GB flash drive. Specs are in my sig. Currenty draws 16W.

    https://www.dropbox.com/gallery/9284282/1/pfSense?h=a2a260

    Very nice build.  Noticed two blank NICs in the blackplate.  Wondering if another model motherboard would have 4 on-board NICs?

    Darkk



  • @Darkk:

    Very nice build.  Noticed two blank NICs in the blackplate.  Wondering if another model motherboard would have 4 on-board NICs?

    Darkk

    Thanks  :)

    I've looked at Supermicro's other mITX boards and I have yet to see any with 4 NICs: http://supermicro.com/products/motherboard/ATOM/

    I think Jetway has one but they are Realtek.  :P



  • @kyronax:

    I think Jetway has one but they are Realtek.  :P

    Some Jetway mini-ITX motherboards can take a daughter card with 1 or 3 NICs. A daughter board with 3 Intel GigE NICs is one option.



  • @wallabybob:

    Some Jetway mini-ITX motherboards can take a daughter card with 1 or 3 NICs. A daughter board with 3 Intel GigE NICs is one option.

    Jetway Daughterboards use the PCI bus while the onboard LAN of any recent Atom Mini-ITX boards uses PCIe.  Just something to think about when considering pros and cons.  My NC9C-550's onboard Realtek LAN have given me zero issues and from what I understand Realtek's bad name has come from its 10/100 chips but its gigabit line is much improved in quality and reliability.



  • @onhel:

    @wallabybob:

    Some Jetway mini-ITX motherboards can take a daughter card with 1 or 3 NICs. A daughter board with 3 Intel GigE NICs is one option.

    Jetway Daughterboards use the PCI bus while the onboard LAN of any recent Atom Mini-ITX boards uses PCIe.  Just something to think about when considering pros and cons.  My NC9C-550's onboard Realtek LAN have given me zero issues and from what I understand Realtek's bad name has come from its 10/100 chips but its gigabit line is much improved in quality and reliability.

    FWIW, they have started offering mini-PCIe addon cards for motherboards with the slot, so it's potentially another 2xGB ethernet ports over PCIe.



  • @onhel:

    @wallabybob:

    Some Jetway mini-ITX motherboards can take a daughter card with 1 or 3 NICs. A daughter board with 3 Intel GigE NICs is one option.

    Jetway Daughterboards use the PCI bus while the onboard LAN of any recent Atom Mini-ITX boards uses PCIe.  Just something to think about when considering pros and cons.  My NC9C-550's onboard Realtek LAN have given me zero issues and from what I understand Realtek's bad name has come from its 10/100 chips but its gigabit line is much improved in quality and reliability.

    Sorry to re-res this one but a quick question; did pfsense detect/load drivers and use the onboard Realtek RTL8111E PCIe 10/100/1000 ??



  • They work on my Jetway NC9C-550 and pfSense 2.0 Release.  I've seen another post where someone was having problems getting his 8111E recognized but it wasnt a Jetway board if I recall correctly.  There might be variants of the 8111E chipset.


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