Intel Nics: Built in or add on?



  • My router is in the process of dying (one dead nic & my speeds are funky right now only after 2.5 years >:(), so I figured building a pfsense box would be the best option.

    I have a 100/5 connection & a managed switched for most of the heavy lifting (4gbps via link aggregation for storage servers) for the main data transfers. I've maxed my connection on downloads in the past, but that's only 11 to 12 mb/sec from the internet. I might play around with squid/snort just to widen my knowledge base, but there isn't going to be heavy enough internet traffic to bog anything down.

    I'll be getting an ubnt 802.11n access point (I'm aware of this very affordable solution thanks to the nice people here!) & i'm considering using a 3rd nic (so Wan, Lan 1, Lan 2 (wifi)) specifically for wireless. That's why I'm asking about using the card since I'd need 3 nics (I won't touch the realtek nics).

    All that said, I'm not sure what to do. I usually do builds that are complete overkill, but even what I'd consider low end would handle many large business solutions here. I need someone to bring me down to earth. Also, I don't want to just buy a pfsense box as I enjoy the building process & getting there is just as fun as having a stable connection.

    I have a couple of questions:

    1. Would an intel J1800/1900/2900 be a solid option for something like this that would last for years & years (I.E. complete overkill)?
    2. Is an add-on card like intel pci-e nic (2 or 4 port) a better option than onboard? (like this Intel i350AM4 Link )

    I was thinking of getting a Supermicro  X10SBA (or one of the flavors) since it has dual intel nics for about $150ish (no separate wifi lan unles I buy a card & pump the price up to $180+). I could also get a non-server j1900 based itx board for $80ish & throw that $100 intel nic card & call it a day. They come out to be around the same price.

    I'm just not sure & I'm probably confusing myself with the options.

    Thanks for fielding basic questions from a n00b like myself.  ;D



  • Ended up ordering the following:

    1. Supermicro X10SBA (non-L for the mSata port)
    2. Toshiba mSATA 30GB SSD
    3. Wesena ITX4 case
    4. 150w PicoPSU & power brick
    5. 2gb DDR3 1333 (already owned, will order another if for some weird reason, I need 4gb)

    6. UniFi AP x1 (should cover the wifi)

    This setup should let me add up to another 4 NICs & really handle anything else I could possibly throw at it.



  • I think it depends on your definition of "years and years."  If you asked me when I switched from dial-up and first got 384/128K DSL (and my first "router") if I thought that a year or two later I'd have had access to 7/1M I'd have said you were crazy.  Same goes for the upgrades made in the Cable internet market, FiOS (my first FiOS plan was 10/2, I think, today I'm running 75/75, provisioned at around 85/90, with upgrades available up to 500/500), and more recently all the Gig-E providers popping up.


  • Netgate Administrator

    You should be good for a few years with that though. Unless everyone's gone to 10Gig WAN by 2016! I can't see that happening.  ;)
    The i350 card you linked to is one of the incredibly cheap type coming out of China. If you buy those direct from Intel they are a lot more expensive. Others here have used them though and had no complaints:
    https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=74158.0

    Not all reviews are favourable though:
    https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=74180.msg408756#msg408756

    Steve