Looking for low power hardware

  • I'm thinking of upgrading my current pfSense router, an ancient Athlon XP based machine with a bit over 1GB of RAM, some 30GB disk and 6 network interfaces. It takes 85W of power on idle, and I was hoping to get the usage down quite a bit while I'm at it.

    I don't want to let go of my network interfaces mainly because that's the only way I've thought of that allows me to easily manage the 5 different public IP addresses I have .. basically I just have a need for one LAN and one WAN interface with 5 IP addresses, so any alternatives for that would be ok too.

    I think the router should be able to handle at least a stable 100Mbit/sec speed through it, but I have very few other special requirements..
    There's a couple of dozen NAT port forwards and firewall rules, DHCP server, DNS forwarder, and OpenNTPD server running on it. No traffic shaping, no VPN, not a lot of users, just me, and a bunch of low traffic servers.

    I was considering Soekris's net5501 + lan1741, but ordering one of those from Soekris Europe would cost ~400€ and the board also seems to take up to 20W of power, which is a bit more than I initially hoped for.

    So I was wondering if you had any suggestions?

    What I'm looking for is:

    • Low power (aiming for ~10W or less)
    • Cheap(er)
    • Runs pfSense
    • Able to handle 100Mbit/s of traffic
    • Has at least 6 network interfaces (or if someone comes up with an alternative idea for that, just 2)

  • If you don't use routing between networks you can add a managed switch with VLANs so the router\appliance will have only 1 or 2 physical interfaces..

  • I read somewhere that I might be able to manage with just 1 WAN interface and 1 LAN interface if I configure the other IPs as virtual IPs .. could try that, would solve the requirement for 6 network interfaces.

  • If they arrive from the same internet connection virtual IP is the common setup, I thought they were from different ISP..

  • Netgate Administrator

    You can get an Atom based box that will run at <20W and easily firewall 100Mbps. The D525 will do ~500Mbps. To get below 20W you will have to choose the component carefully though. Most importantl is a high efficiency PSU such as a PicoPSU.
    There are a number of threads here detailing such builds.


  • Actually, one thing I'm interested in trying is running pfSense as a virtual machine on my ESXi server .. all I'd have to do is figure out which of my couple of dozen extra NICs work on the ESXi and then install one and start installing pfSense.

    It would be infinitely cheaper, as it'd cost nothing at all, and the power efficiency of a virtual machine is rather high, considering that the machine is already on and running other virtual machines, and my usage isn't that heavy.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Yep. Do that. If for some reason you run into a problem then maybe re-think a hardware solution. I should work fine though.


  • I have a Asus C60MI-I (fanless & no coil whine) + spare 8GB corsair vengeance ddr3 with a "free (€150)" dual Intel NIC PCI-E x4 controller.
    It runs 120Mbit ISP connection no sweat..

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