Hardware suggestions

  • Hi All,

    I have been looking at these forums for a while now trying to work out what hardware would be best for my new project (pfsense) router

    I firstly wanted to know what the general thoughts are on using a Atom based system or a mini-itx case with a standard cpu and if anyone has any suggestions on the different boards. I understand that it is best to get intel nic's and my internet is 100mb.

    My next concern is regarding wireless. I do require wireless and currently struggle with reception and speed in my house. From what I see on http://doc.pfsense.org/index.php/PfSense_and_FreeBSD_Versions the next version will still be on FreeBSD 8 and not support 811.2n wireless. So can anyone recommend a wifi card which has b/g (and n for the future) where I can add a good antenna. Also do we know when pfsense 2.2 is due out? or is there something else I could do (ideally without using a access point)?


  • For 100 Mbps WAN a Atom processor is enough, but might not be enough if you want to run CPU heavy packages like Snort or do fast VPN. Intel Sandy/Ivy Bridge Celeron and Pentium CPU's should get you to close or over 1 Gbps throughput, but again packages might slow you down. My G630T nearly maxes out with 100 Mbps WAN running Snort as it doesn't support multiple cores.

    Suggestions for motherboards can be found in many recent threads, but from memory I can name this mini-itx boards: Intel Server Board S1200KP (LGA1155, dual NIC), Intel Desktop Board DQ77KB (build in dc-dc power supply, LGA1155, dual NIC), and Intel Desktop Board D2500CC (Atom, dual NIC)

    My take on WLAN is to get a dedicated WLAN AP as pfSense doesn't support 802.11n. It also makes it easier to position the AP to where you need it. If you want to segment it from wired LAN you need a third NIC or VLAN switch.

  • If your looking for a small footprint …... a used laptop with one ethernet port and a level 2 switch using vlans works great  ;D.

    If you don't have a level 2 switch ..... a used laptop with on-board ethernet + ethernet expresscard works great also  ;D.

    I'm personally running at home a 30Mbps cable modem connection and Pfsense on a used HP EliteBook 8530p Notebook Core 2 Duo 2.53Ghz. With Pfsense, Snort and Pfblocker the CPU bounces around from 0% to 1%. It's like swatting fly's with a hammer......  :o

    As for a AP I'm using a external G unit plugged into the switch......(Internal N is not supported) Internal AP units can be problematic because of the difficulties of finding one which works with Pfsense.

    If your more comfortable with a desktop PC, a used Hp or Dell SFF desktops works great also.

    If you have money to burn ..... sure by all means go build a custom PC ......But its just a waste of cash.

  • Very well put Clear-Pixel.

    Also notebooks have built-in "everything" (ups, display console, keyboard, etc.).

  • @NOYB

    Was the main reason I decided on a laptop

    Thanks for the addition NOYB….