New pfsense build questions

  • I am currently running pfSense on an i3 with MicroATX MB and 2x Intel NIC. I really like pfSense, but this case is way too big and I would like to do a very small build that is also low power that still has reasonable performance. So far, I have come up with the following components:

    Case: Wesena ITX4v3
    PSU: Pico PSU 160XT + Meanwell GS90 80 watts power brick
    Storage: 120GB Crucial SSD

    Option 1:
    MB: Supermicro X10SBA-L ITX
    CPU: Intel Celeron Bay Trail J1900 (soldered to MB)
    RAM: 2x 4GB DDR3L 1600 SODIMM

    Option 2:
    MB: Asus AM1I-A ITX
    CPU: AMD Athlon 5350
    RAM: 2x 4GB DDR3L 1600 DIMM
    NIC: Intel PRO/1000 PT Dual Port Server Adapter (EXPI9402PTBLK) with low profile adapter

    The Supermicro includes 2x Intel 210AT NIC's. I read that these are supported since pfSense 2.1.1, but I am not sure whether the included driver supports ALTQ traffic shaping. I have read some reports on the forum that people who compiled the driver had issues with traffic shaping not working correctly.

    My intended use is certainly traffic shaping as I'd like to use it to prioritize Steam traffic for LAN parties I host.

    The advantage of the SuperMicro J1900 is also that the CPU is fanless, but would the J1900 be enough to do decent traffic shaping? My current internet connection is provisioned at 50Mbit, the fastest they offer is 150Mbit. for an upper limit, I'd like the box to be able to handle 250Mbit easily. I do have some additional services such as a transparent proxy, but this runs on my CentOS 6 server.

    The AMD Kabini seems to offer good idle power too, comparable to the J1900, but I would need the dual NIC which seems to operate at around 4 - 5 watts according to Intel docs. However, this NIC supports traffic shaping. The disadvantage is that Kabini comes with a fan, although quiet. My concern is that the fan can become noisy and will wear down with 24/7 operation. I have not seen any replacement fans or after market solutions yet.

    Many thanks for any insight anyone is able to offer.

  • I am in the same position.

    My option is:

    • Case: M350
    • motherboard: Supermicro Atom C2000 Based (C2558 should be fine) - A1SRi-2558F
    • 2x 4GB RAM ECC
    • 80GB SSD (Intel S3500)

    I am still making price comparison in order to make the final decision.

  • Netgate Administrator

    The J1900 seems to be quite capable. Look at this post, and others in that thread, for some numbers:


  • Thank you for your comments, it does look like the J1900 is capable enough for most uses. That leaves the question regarding support for the Intel i210AT, I know these are supported in the latest stable pfSense out of the box, but does it support the traffic shaper? I was not able to determine from the various messages on the forum whether this is confirmed or not.

    The SuperMicro A1SRi-2558F looks interesting. However, it is significantly more expensive than the X10SBA or X10SBA-L.

  • It's a lot less board than the Rangeley.

  • Pick up the A1SRm-2558F board. It runs a bit cheaper at around $235.

  • watch this space.

    …. and no, I'm not suggesting you buy a dev board unless you WANT IT NOW.  You want to wait for the ones manufactured in Taiwan.  Must lower prices.

  • Thank you all for your suggestions. The SuperMicro X10SBA seems to have a very good feature set for the price, however it looks that it only supports a 32 bit UEFI bootloader, see:

    This causes problems when booting a lot of Linux distro's. I am surprised it works out of the box with FreeBSD 8.3, looks like FreeBSD supports the 32-bit UEFI mode. However, would this be the same for future versions? Perhaps SuperMicro may release a BIOS update which may fix this issue, but I have not seen any post anywhere confirming this.

    Another option I am considering is an Asus H87I-PLUS ITX or Asus Q87T/CSM Thin ITX motherboard with an i3-4130T. Reports show it should run around 20 watts idle with a PicoPSU, probably lower for the Thin ITX. With some further undervolting and underclocking, this may even be further reduced. On the plus side, this CPU would be more future proof given its higher performance and it also supports AES-NI.