Budget PFsense Router



  • Currently looking to try PFsense out and use it as a Router. I need some advice on components.
    I currently have an old desktop with XP on it with 256mb of RAM on it. Not to sure about the CPU. What sort of wireless adapter would I want to use for a PFsense router?

    As you can tell I'm a complete "noob" when it comes to anything PFsense.
    Any advice is appreciated!

    Thanks,
    NadMaiq



  • Hi,

    I guess the spec you need also depends on what you'll use pfsense for and if you install/enable extra packages etc and how many users will be connecting through it?

    I think to a degree 512Mb ram is considered the minimum now for a PC install….am sure I'll be corrected  ;)

    Anyhow I have a P3 1.26Ghz with 512Mb ram, running Snort, PFBlocker and TFTP Server running perfectly fine.  In fact I could throw a "little" more on but not investigated things like Squid yet.  Then again this router only serves a few people.  "Router" services like DHCP, DNS etc I've got running on another box so not sure how much extra load that would put on an old cpu.....not much I reckon though.

    Cannot help with a wifi adapter I'm afraid as I use a seperate AP connected to my switch.

    One thing I see though quite often is other users recommending Intel or Broadcom nics only as the Realtecs can be flakey (not tested this myself).

    Cheers


  • Netgate Administrator

    pfSense 2.0.1 will run happily in 256MB. Though you won't have much head room for big packages etc.
    If you want to put a wifi card in the pfSense box, rather than using a separate AP, then try to get an Atheros based 802.11G card. There is no support for 802.11N and the drivers in 2.0.1 are mostly from FreeBSD 8.1 which was finalised in Jun 2010(?).
    There is a list of supported cards maintained by JimP, here.
    Many people prefer to run a separate access point. They are now very cheap, you can run 802.11N, you can position them more easily for better signal coverage.

    If you're sourcing wired NICs to add always try to get Intel.

    Steve



  • @NadMaiq:

    Currently looking to try PFsense out and use it as a Router. I need some advice on components.
    I currently have an old desktop with XP on it with 256mb of RAM on it. Not to sure about the CPU. What sort of wireless adapter would I want to use for a PFsense router?

    As you can tell I'm a complete "noob" when it comes to anything PFsense.
    Any advice is appreciated!

    Thanks,
    NadMaiq

    Old components may help to keep budget down but they usually need more power and take a lot of space.


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    You might find that a nice low-power appliance will pay for itself inside of a year in some areas on power consumption alone.

    Unless you rent a place that includes all utilities :-)



  • @jimp:

    You might find that a nice low-power appliance will pay for itself inside of a year in some areas on power consumption alone.

    Unless you rent a place that includes all utilities :-)

    That would have to be some really expensive power (electricity) or nearly free device.

    Even a 50 watt savings would only amount to about $88 per year at $0.20 / kWh.

    In addition, depending on local climate and heating method, the power used by inside appliances is essentially/nearly free during the heating season.  In a mild climate a big screen LCD TV and A/V setup can nearly heat a small home theater room.


  • Rebel Alliance Developer Netgate

    In an area with the pleasure of cheap electricity, sure. I think there is another thread where someone ran some better numbers, though I can't find it at the moment.



  • What would be considered / qualify as expensive electricity?  To me 20 cents / kWh would be extremely expensive.  And even at that price the pay back just wouldn't be there.  Was tossing around the idea last week of replacing one of my old machines and trying to justify it based on power consumption and just couldn't get even close.



  • I live in a country with a very flaky electric service. We rely on UPS > PowerInverters > Generators.

    To me using energy efficient hardware is a must.



  • @tirsojrp:

    I live in a country with a very flaky electric service. We rely on UPS > PowerInverters > Generators.

    To me using energy efficient hardware is a must.

    Excellent point.  That’s pretty costly power and maximizing up time duration.



  • @NOYB:

    That would have to be some really expensive power (electricity) or nearly free device.

    Even a 50 watt savings would only amount to about $88 per year at $0.20 / kWh.

    In addition, depending on local climate and heating method, the power used by inside appliances is essentially/nearly free during the heating season.  In a mild climate a big screen LCD TV and A/V setup can nearly heat a small home theater room.

    It seems rare that people note that aspect when talking about power usage, thank you for "keeping it real" ;)

    On the other hand, depending on your local climate, every watt "wasted" is heat that gets pulled away by AC for a good chunk of time in the summer.



  • Just to the previous comment above, a 50w savings is actually minimally what you are going to save by going with embedded/low power hardware over older desktop hardware.  88.00/year pays back quite nicely, actually– even 40.00 dollars per year, which is what most people can save by going with embedded/low power hardware over old component desktop hardware, will pay for itself in far less time than most businesses would consider a good investment.

    40 bucks is 40 bucks... add up enough devices in your home saying 'its just 40 bucks a year', and pretty soon you have a considerable amount of money.  If you really can save 88 dollars per year, its a no-brainer..



  • In my case I don't care about power savings and I run pfSense on an AMD Athlon™ XP 2500+ @1.83 GHz, 512 MB RAM (usually utilized at 30%), and I even use RealTek 8139 10/100BaseTX NICs. The box is able to push 100 mbit bi-directional WAN traffic/30 mbit OVPN, and is at around 300 days uptime.



  • My pfSense box is a Dell Dimension 2400 with a 2.6GHz PIII and 2GB RAM that I run 24/7 with a LCD monitor attached showing the output from pfTop. I started running a Dell Dimension 4600 with a 2.8 GHz PIII and 3GB RAM as a desktop at the same time I built my pfSense box and leave it running 24/7 too. Neither of these ran last year.

    I tracked down my electricity bills from 6-7 2011 and 6-7 2012 to compare what I used before and after starting them up. In June it went from 378 to 633 KWH, a difference of 255 KWH, and in July it went from 461 to 826 KWH, a difference of 365 KWH.

    I had a little additional electricity use in July this year that I didn't last year, as I hooked up my Pioneer tube amp to my home theater in July and that uses a lot of juice when you leave it on 24/7, but everything else should stay about the same from year to year, taking into account running AC, leaving my TV on 24/7, etc. So if you took half that increase it would be roughly what my pfSense box used in excess per month to what it didn't the year before, which would give a ballpark figure of around 130 KWH per month for the pfSense box.

    The good news, besides now having a sweet pfSense hardware firewall and another PC, is that I'm alloted 275 kilowatt hours with my rent before they start billing me and that my bill went from $9.48US June last year to $31.90 this year and from $19.50US July last year to $49.30 this year, which I believe works out to roughly $0.09 per KWH. :)


  • Netgate Administrator

    I think you must mean P4 because the fastest PIII that Intel made was 1.4GHz.  ;)

    Steve



  • @stephenw10:

    I think you must mean P4 because the fastest PIII that Intel made was 1.4GHz.  ;)

    Steve

    Yes, you're right. They're both Pentium 4's. Time to go to bed. :P

    My bother-in-law gave me both PC's this summer, they're several years old so I thought I'd give some input on what it costs me to run older hardware.


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