Testing out pfSense – hardware question

  • So i'm wanting to test out and learn the various ipv4 and ipv6 features and capabilities of pfSense on my home network.  I'm borrowing a spare dell optiplex computer from work to test pfSense, here's what i'm working with, followed by one question:

    cpu: i7-4790 @ 3.60GHz
    ram:  16GB (2x 8GB sticks)
    HDD: 1TB-7200rpm

    onboard nic:  intel i217-LM (em0 – WAN)
    2nd nic: pci-x broadcom netxtreme gigabit ethernet (bge0 -- LAN)

    internet:  comcast blast (100/10 provisioned,  factor in 25% over-subscribed and the speeds are actually 125Mbps/12Mbps)

    current setup that i'm replacing is a simple asus rt-ac68u wireless router (which i will put in AP mode once i put the pfSense box online)

    now, based on other hardware setups, i have no concerns with the motherboard specs, but i'm wondering if I should be worried (at all) about any negatives or latency with regards to routing between the onboard intel nic (WAN) and the 2nd PCI-X network card (broadcom -- LAN)?

    for my testing purposes on a home network, would it behoove me to swap out that broadcom nic with a intel based pci-x nic, or a dual port pci-x nic, or will i honestly not even notice any difference and just stick with what i have?

    I ran some preliminary speed tests wireless on my asus router (connected to the internet) versus wired to the pfsense box (with the pfsense box directly connected to the cable modem) and i got the exact same results,  so i'm guessing i'm good to go for a home network.

    thanks in advance for any responses, even if it's to tell me "relax, you're worrying about nothing -- it'll work fine"


  • Netgate Administrator

    Yep, relax.  ;)
    That box is massively overspecced for the WAN bandwidth,  you should have no performance problems testing any features you care for.
    The Broadcom NIC shouldn't give you any trouble either. Intel NICs are preferred but Broadcom are probably next in line. If you do see any issues there are some tuning options:
    Don't apply that unless you see any problems though.


  • Thanks, Steve.

    i figured the box was overkill – it was available so i figured what the heck,  this should work.

    I was also pretty sure the broadcom gigabit nic would be fine,  they come packaged in a majority of dell servers and workstations and are very popular,  I've never had an issue with a broadcom nic in a workstation or server environment so i figured it would be fine to handle my home LAN.      plus, like you mentioned we're only dealing with 125Mbps max downstream bandwidth so if i had a full gig connection or even half that, i would probably go with slightly different network hardware.

    thanks again.

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