Replacing Via Epia

  • Hi guys,

    Long time pfsense user.  I came here from m0n0wall years ago.  I don't get on the forums much since that Via Epia with pfsense just worked and worked and worked.  It's still working but at this point it's getting slow.  With my higher connection speed and the two subnets and all the streaming video internally and externally with my website and hosting it's starting to show it's age and just can't pass the bandwidth I need.  My cpu usage is frequently hitting 100% and traffic shaping works for crap but that's a whole other issue.

    I want something small and powerful.  It has to have two NIC's with WIFI.  I am thinking about one of these: with one of these: since according to these spreadsheet: that WIFI card will work well.

    Anyone else have any suggestions?  Comments?  I lost track of how good and powerful small CPU's are so I don't know how that stacks up against Atom processors or what other SOC's might be out there that would work well.

  • Well one thing I didn't notice until just now is that the Marvel WIFI card I posted is mini PCI not mini PCIe.  So that one won't work.  The search continues.

  • Thanks to the thunder endorsement and options posted in response to my question (sarcasm) I went ahead and ordered one with the required supporting components.  If anyone is interested (and it doesn't appear that anyone is) I can post a small write up with pictures.  I am still waiting for and antennae that I had to order after the fact because the box didn't come with any even though the pictures all showed it with antennae.

    I have pfSense 2.2 beta up and running on it.  The bios is a web of complicated and poorly explained options.  How I go about finding and upgrading the bios is lost on me as well.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Write ups of hardware are always good.  :)
    There is quite an extensive thread about that box, or one very similar, here:

    What wifi card did you go with? If you haven't got one yet choose an Atheros based card if you want any chance of getting 802.11N working.


  • Well I finally have enough time to write this up quick.

    I ordered:  Their shipping was fast.  I got it in three days after they put it in the mail.  Unfortunately, for some reason it took them almost a week to get it out the door.  Shipping from them was the 'most' reasonable.  It is still pricey, IMO.

    I added 4GB of RAM to it.  I ordered this Atheros card: as some research lent me to believe it would work.  It does.

    Tip:  Order the computer with the cheapest WiFi adapter.  Even though the card it comes with is not supported by pfSense it's cheaper than ordering a set of plain antennas.  If you don't, then it doesn't come with any antennas and you have to order a set like this:

    I used an 'old' 40GB SSD I had from my old server.  I figured I would never use a 40GB SSD for anything else.  It screwed to the bottom of the case.

    The case acts as the heatsink.  I took it apart to clean and reapply the thermal grease because I didn't trust the glopped on crap that it came with.  Also, you will need the newest pfSense 2.2 beta.

    There are a ton…metric ton of options in the BIOS.  I played around with too many and wound up having to reinstall because I screwed something up and it wouldn't boot into pfSense anymore.  I did enable speedstep in the BIOS and then enabled Intel support in pfSense and pfSense recognized it.  One thing I wonder about is where I get BIOS updates from?

    Here is a link to my build pictures.  Google + has royally screwed up my Picasa album and I couldn't get individual pictures linked so I linked the whole thing in one album:

    I think for the price this thing is hard to beat with dual Intel NICs and the form factor.  With a VPN, 30Mbs down and 5Mbs up, wireless cameras on the WiFi streaming to the LAN, a NAS serving out pr0n to several XBMC and PLEX devices I have CPU usage of less than 5%.  It has no moving parts and is completely silent.  CPU ran about 50 degrees C and then I enabled SpeedStep and it sits around 47C to 50C.

    I'll answer any questions you guys have.

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