Need advice: PCIe NIC for DQ77KB

  • Hello,

    I purchased a DQ77KB (Previous post:,57345.0.html) and am starting to put it together. So far, I have the CPU, CPU fan, and RAM in place in an M350 case. Next, I'd like at least a 2-port network card.  I've been searching for PCIe x4 cards, but they don't look like they fit.

    1. Any suggestions for an inexpense 2-port NIC known to work well with pfsense? (links helpful)
    2. Any advice on installing one with my motherboard + case?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Check again, this board has an 4x PCI-E port.

    1+2 makes things a little complicated:
    You need a custom I/O shield to fit a PCI card on the M350. Mini-Box only offers a I/O shield for PCI cards on the D2800MT. Link
    Even if you handle this the CPU might get in the way.
    Server class Intel dual nics can be easy found for less than US40, but they are big and maybe too hot to fit in that case+mb combination.
    You can find smaller dual nic cards from manufacturers claiming that they are "server adapters", but they actually use 2 low end chips in a single PCI-E 1x and are way more expensive and harder to find than used Intel nics.

    The only reasonable option is to use another case, all the alternatives I can think of implies ninja modding skills and spending money on exotic stuff (custom io shield, pci-e 4x riser or extension, low profile cooler, mini-pcie nics, etc, etc…)

  • Ouch, well for my immediate needs a single NIC would work too, the dual was just "nice to have."

    I'll be using 2 WAN connections (plus 1 for LAN), so that's why the 2 ports don't suffice. Any suggestions for a single port NIC that might work? If the case is too restrictive, would USB Network adapter be an option with pfsense?

  • I don't think there's any way to fit a NIC into that case. I have a Anteck ISK110 and there's no way it would fit even a low profile NIC. There's also the issue of no hole in the case for the expansion card.


    It is possible with slim motherboards and the right I/O shield, but the CPU location in this board could be a problem.

  • Netgate Administrator

    If you choose to use that I/O shield and riser you will have to modify it quite a bit. Not many of the rear panel connectors line up (see attached pic). That is assuming you can get a NIC that doesn't hit the CPU heatsink/fan assembly of course.  :-\


  • Obviously a poor selection on the case on my part.  It looks like I need a different case but could a USB to ethernet adapter help here?  Not sure what pfsense's support of these adapters looks like.

  • @craveness:

    could a USB to ethernet adapter help here?

    The FreeBSD man page for the axe driver (see lists some adapters which look as if they should be capable of sustained Ethernet operation at 100Mbps.

    pfSense should already include the axe driver.

    My only experience with USB Ethernet adapters and pfSense was with devices supported by the udav driver and they were limited by USB speed of 12Mbps. They weren't entirely satisfactory because the devices would sometimes not be recognised during system startup and pfSense would consequently report a missing interface and wait for user input which is not useful if you want the box to run unattended.

    I suggest you search the pfSense forums for reports on the chipsets supported by the axe driver. You might find a report or two that will help you make a decision.

    An alternative approach is to use a VLAN capable switch as a "port multiplier". If you search the pfSense forums for vlan "port multiplier" you should turn up a few posts explaining the idea in more detail.

    Maybe a bigger case would also be a satisfactory solution. The MiniBox (M200?) I bought a few years ago has the height and cutout  to allow a standard PCI card to be mounted parallel to the motherboard (using a riser card) and above the I/O shield. This possibility doesn't seem to be mentioned  on MiniBox web site so maybe it isn't a feature of current M200 boxes or maybe I have forgotten the model number of the box I have. I have no idea if your card and CPU cooler would be fighting to occupy the same space.

    Out of the options I have discussed I expect the VLAN port multiplier would be the least troublesome.