HP DC7900 is perfect. Thanks for the help



  • Thanks so much for this forum.  I lurked and searched and decided against using an old laptop as my pfsense box.

    Instead I bought a used HP DC7900 Intel Core 2 Duo 3.00 GHz with 4Gb ram for about $70 shipped from ebay. It came without a hard drive, but I had an old 40 GB laptop hard drive to use. Without the VPN, it runs at about 37-38 watts according to my Kill-a-watt. With my connection maxed out on the VPN, it draws 42-48 watts.

    It's working great, easily handling my 50/25 Mb/s connection. 



  • Yeah the Core 2 Duo's still rock. Too bad they are a bit of power guzzlers.. but not that bad as P4's and earlier chipsets. But even with that I don't think you will ever run it 100% maxed to its TDP 24x7. So it's still close to perfect :)



  • I guess that power consumption looks high compared to an Atom based machine, but I wasn't sure an Atom could comfortably handle the VPN at those speeds. Also, for the cost difference for a new Atom vs a used Core2 Duo, the payback time just isn't there for the electricity savings.  Besides, now I have plenty of margin in case I upgrade to 100Mb or faster FiOS.

    The new Intel i3 processors with AES instruction set built in look very nice, and I did consider building one of those, but again, the payback on the electricity just wasn't there. However, my VPN provider is using Blowfish, not AES, so I'm not sure that would provide any benefit.



  • Payback was an issue for me too, it is going to take several years for the power my HP burns to equal the extra cost of a more efficient system. Still I'm shopping the latest chips looking to see if I can justify a new toy.



  • Yep, great little workhorses.  I've got three small form factor dc7900s.

    One is my ESXi server, running pfSense, two Windows VMs (one of which is my mail server), an Ubuntu/WordPress web server and NAS4free.  With 8GB and an E7600 CPU it's more than enough for a home network.  At idle it uses about 45 watts but it has two disks and three additional NICs in it.  I can live with that level of power consumption - insignificant compared to daughter running the AirCon whenever the temp moves off 22C!

    The second dc7900 is my desktop machine and the third is a spare/experimentation box.



  • Used Laptop is perfect for home use and very small businesses…. :D

    Using PowerD in Adaptive mode, CPU runs between 200Mhz to 800Mhz averaging around 600Mhz and a CPU load average is in the 0.15 and below range ...... Laptop runs very cool using PowerD CPU core temp steady at 44.0°C

    Thats Pfsense running Pfblocker & Snort package.....

    Just the laptop while filtering a 30Mbps stream, peaks at 17watts for total laptop and wireless AP power consumption ..... That's what you call Green Processing with plenty of horse power to spare if needed in the future.

    • Core2 Duo SL9600 @ 2.13GHz CPU Passmark = 1,517  ;D

    • Intel Atom D2700 @ 2.13GHz CPU Passmark = 831  :(



  • The 7900 I use for my pfSense box has developed a glitch, it reboots when my UPS switches to backup power for the monthly battery test. Swapped power supplies with one that didn't reboot and the problem didn't move. So I ordered a  replacement motherboard off ebay for $20 which has the wife happier than she'd be with the bill I'd get for a nice Atom or i3 system to replace it.



  • stan-qaz, how did you diagnose that problem?  I'm having a similar issue, and I can't figure it out.  Is there a log file that would shed some light?

    My 7900 is also plugged into a UPS, and once every several weeks (it could be as long as a month), the 7900 shuts down.  The BIOS is set to resume after loss of power, but it doesn't.  I have to push the power (reset?) button to get the 7900 to start up.  I have a Kill-a-Watt plugged into the UPS, and that has remained powered up, so there's no actual loss of power to the 7900.

    For now, I've just plugged the 7900 direct into the wall, taking the UPS out of the loop.



  • I'm retired now and have little test gear so most of my testing and troubleshooting is done by swapping hardware, not optimal but it usually gets you a decent answer at a reasonable cost. I'll give you what my situation is and what I've done.

    My old, dumb UPS died and APC had a sale so I got two new RS-1500G units and swapped my systems around to balance the load. All was happy, I had more runtime if power went out and I could power up all my stuff at one time.

    Got to the testing stage (fresh backups) and pulled the plug on first one unit and then the other, things looked good monitors on, lights blinking and all. As I was admiring the lights and poking through the UPS LCD display info I heard pfSense coming up from a boot. Swapped monitors to put one on the pfSense box and saw it was just finishing the bootup process. Not good!

    I figured I had a UPS glitch (dumb hope but easy to check and solve) so I moved the pfSense power plug from one UPS to the other and plugged them back in. Still not good, the pfSense box was rebooting again. That eliminated the UPS, actually since there was another 7900 plugged into it already I should have gotten a clue from that.

    Since the UPS was not guilty the next thought was the power supply in the 7900, swapping that only takes a couple minutes so that was my first step. No luck there, the other 7900 with the suspect power supply didn't boot when I ran a UPS test but the pfSense one with the known working supply still rebooted.

    Since I had the lids off I disconnected all the peripherals except monitor and keyboard and booted to the BIOS. A UPS test still rebooted the pfSense 7900 so it came down to being the motherboard, CPU or RAM. Ram was unlikely but only took a moment to swap which eliminated it as a suspect. So either I had a bad CPU or bad Motherboard. A bit of Google came up with several mentions that HP like so many others had motherboard capacitor issues about the time my 7900 was made so I decided to suspect the motherboard over the CPU.

    At that point I looked at a warranty return but it was going to cost more than $20 for shipping the 7900 back.

    I thought of swapping CPUs but that is a lot of work and a misstep can leave you unhappy. A quick look at ebay showed a $20 replacement board with fast free shipping so I ordered it. That means I won't have to mess with the working 7900 which is a good thing.

    –-------------

    Only thing I'd do differently if I ordered more 7900s or anything of similar vintage is give the motherboard caps a thorough going over with a magnifier as soon as I got them out of the box. I'd guess the smaller sellers will be doing a better job of checking units before they ship than the big places so I'd likely go back to ebay over NewEgg for any additional boxes.

    I have two 7900s sitting less than three feet from my ear and they are very difficult to hear, the CPU fan is nearly silent and I can't hear the power supply fan at all. At 40 watts with a 64 MB SSD, an add-in video card (needed for my older KVM switch) and two NICs it is pretty good.

    There are some good prices on ebay, even lots of 3-4 available if you are shopping for something old enough pfSense will be happy, that won't be too power hungry and has the ability to run pfSense and a few extensions on a reasonably sized LAN.

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR5.TRC1.A0.Xhp+7900+sff&_nkw=hp+7900+sff&_sacat=0&_from=R40



  • @biggsy:

    Yep, great little workhorses.  I've got three small form factor dc7900s.

    One is my ESXi server, running pfSense, two Windows VMs (one of which is my mail server), an Ubuntu/WordPress web server and NAS4free.  With 8GB and an E7600 CPU it's more than enough for a home network.  At idle it uses about 45 watts but it has two disks and three additional NICs in it.  I can live with that level of power consumption - insignificant compared to daughter running the AirCon whenever the temp moves off 22C!

    The second dc7900 is my desktop machine and the third is a spare/experimentation box.

    Does that mean you're running PFSense as a guest on that setup ? What's your latency like, and how have you provided 2 NICs to pfsense that way ?

    Thanks :)



  • I'd echo the sentiments on the HP SFF PC's. I'm running a 7800 with a core 2 duo. Not only is it extremely quiet, with a dual port NIC and CD drive unplugged it's around 36-38 watts at idle.



  • I have fiddled with my HP 7900 trying a lot of different things to get it to run happily on a non-sinewave UPS and the one thing that worked was to swap out the original power supply which was a Rev: A unit for one marked Rev: B. Lots of these are on ebay and making sure you get a Rev: B unit is usually pretty simple.

    This is a Rev: B unit, the version sticker is easy to see, many sellers don't put up a picture or tell you which version so shop carefully.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-pc6019-460974-001-462435-001-240w-max-power-supply-/141446878052?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20eee41364

    This is a Rev: A that will likely be a problem.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Original-LiteOn-PS-6241-5-240-W-Power-supply-460974-001-462435-001-/171553252041?pt=PCA_UPS&hash=item27f15ee2c9

    If you are buying one of these 7900s check for the Rev: B power supply or newer unless you are willing to tolerate reboots at every UPS system test or line failure.


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