PfSense Home router replacement



  • Okay, so I have my "first draft" home router up and running with pfSense… here's the specs, as well as where I bought each bit and how much I paid:

    The result?  A pfSense box that is shaping up to be a beefy little home router, for about $210 (not counting the cost of the SDHC, since that's not part of the final build).

    I currently have the wifi serving two WLANs, a guest and an "internal" network.  Since I will need to replace the SD card with the SSD and invoke the appropriate downtime, I haven't actually replaced my girlfriend's Apple Airport yet, so this is currently running inside the Airport's network; consequently, I haven't connected the internal ethernet network yet.

    BTW, I hooked up my handy-dandy Kill-A-Watt meter, and clocked this thing… with one wifi device (laptop) connected and surfing, this box draws about 15-20 watts.  Sure that's 3-4x the consumption of a generic Linksys router... but I'd like to see a generic Linksys router do all the stuff a pfSense box can do!

    P.S.: This post was instrumental in helping me figure out why the console was spewing stuck beacon errors!  Keep it in mind if you decide to build something similar and use an Atheros-based card! :)


  • Netgate Administrator

    @Doktor:

    Sure that's 3-4x the consumption of a generic Linksys router…

    Are you sure? My old D-link G624T draws >20W.

    Steve

    Edit: Some of that must be inefficiencies in the psu because it is rated at 12V 1.2A at the box.



  • @stephenw10:

    @Doktor:

    Sure that's 3-4x the consumption of a generic Linksys router…

    Are you sure? My old D-link G624T draws >20W.

    Steve

    Edit: Some of that must be inefficiencies in the psu because it is rated at 12V 1.2A at the box.

    Barring the inefficiencies of the PSUs in question, that statement holds true in general.  The x86 hardware generally does consume much more power than the ASIC/ MIPS stuff.
    However, the OP has failed to consider the capabilities and performance of the pfSense box over the conventional consumer/ prosumer routers.

    In fact, I only retained the use of pfSense over stuff like Mikrotik all these years solely because just about nothing else has HFSC shaping.  IPcop had it with a kernel hack but it doesn't hold up in terms of state table sizes; furthermore, it's for a rather ancient build.

    The added bonus of having rather decent VPN performance is also a deal breaker for me when I need secured access to resources back home or secured web access when using free wifi hotspots.



  • @dreamslacker:

    Barring the inefficiencies of the PSUs in question, that statement holds true in general.  The x86 hardware generally does consume much more power than the ASIC/ MIPS stuff.
    However, the OP has failed to consider the capabilities and performance of the pfSense box over the conventional consumer/ prosumer routers.

    I did?

    @Doktor:

    Sure that's 3-4x the consumption of a generic Linksys router… but I'd like to see a generic Linksys router do all the stuff a pfSense box can do!



  • Nice writeup Jones!  Thanks for sharing!..    :)



  • @Doktor:

    I did?

    My mistake.  Completely worn out last night.  :D

    A Linksys with DD-WRT can actually do most of the features (at least VPN & HFSC) though.  It just has awful performance.  Lol!
    IMO, the main hurdle for adopting pfSense for SOHO/ SMB setups now would be unconditionally stable wireless (N) support.  I just install a cheap, mid-high performance Wifi router as an AP these days rather than to try and source a stable working wireless module.



  • @dreamslacker:

    IMO, the main hurdle for adopting pfSense for SOHO/ SMB setups now would be unconditionally stable wireless (N) support.  I just install a cheap, mid-high performance Wifi router as an AP these days rather than to try and source a stable working wireless module.

    Very true.  In my case, the wireless is just used for laptops and smartphones whose most bandwidth-intensive tasks are watching Youtube videos of lolcats – any file transfers or other serious tasks are going to occur between the hardwired desktops (or worst case scenario, I can temporarily plug in the laptop).  When N support does finally arrive for pfSense, it'll be fantastic, but I can live without until then :D


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