Recommended hardware for VDSL 80d/20u on a budget

  • Hi all

    I'm currently running an Alix 2D3 and have been using this on standard ADSL 8d/1u for a few months and it's been flawless. Anyway I have moved into a new property where I can (finally!) get VDSL 80meg down 20meg up. The order is in progress and line due to be activated on 24th December.

    I've been doing a bit of reading about it and have come to the conclusion that the Alix won't be able to handle the throughput of such a connection.

    I only need 1 WAN and 1 LAN port (could have more but I likely wouldn't use them), wireless would be a strong plus or a spare slot to add it in the future but not essential. Gigabit ports would be useful for the future but not immediately necessary so again not essential. The power to use SNORT would be nice too - my current Alix couldn't handle it too well. I will be running OpenVPN to one full-time client and up to 2 other clients occasionally, throughput of 20meg total on OpenVPN should easily suffice.

    My main priorities are low power consumption, low cost (under £100, don't mind buying a used unit off ebay), and low noise (fanless if possible) in that order.

    What can you all recommend? I get the general impression that Atom would be a good choice but the cost might limit me on that one. I've got a couple of dual/quad port Intel NICs I can use if I do end up going down the PC-based route. Any advice appreciated.

  • What are you trying to fit into that budget?

    Hard drive?
    Power Supply?

    Without knowing this it is hard to recommend things.. if it's just processor and motherboard you're looking for, then a pentium G3220 and a basic H81 or B87 board would likely fit the bill

    If you're looking for the other stuff as well, that's where it gets challenging.

    Basically any i3 or above hardware for the last 2-4 generations (since the iX series came out) should be able to do what you need, so if you can get your hands on some good used hardware, that'll work.

    Keeping it quiet is another thing. Picopsu type power supplies are available cheap on ebay, you'd also get a power adapter cheap there. Again, depends on what you want to fit into that budget.

  • Hi Keljian thanks for your reply.

    I was wondering if there's any embedded devices out there that would do the trick but if not I can go down the PC route, the budget would be for mobo cpu and power supply in that case - I'm sure I've got everything else I could salvage from other machines. I've got a couple of spare ITX cases so an ITX board would be ideal.

    I do have a couple of low power ESXI boxes, how well would pfsense run in a VM? I've never tried virtualizing something like that, is it as secure in terms of networking as a standalone box?

  • Pfsense works well in esxi. As for security? I can't say, I dont know enough, but there are plenty of other threads on this forum discussing this very thing. In short there are pros and cons.

    I have considered it in my own hardware but with my limited knowledge of vms if something went wrong I may not be able to work out what is causing the trouble; pfsense or esxi.

    I will look at hardware for you soon, but I dare say the g3220 and h81 motherboard with a picopsu would work a charm

  • Hi again, sorry it's been a while. Got a bit hectic moving house and work and everything, the usual…

    Anyway I'm glad to say my Alix 2D3 has very much exceeded my expectations.

    I wasn't expecting it to be suitable and thought it would be a bottleneck on a fast connection like this but boy was I wrong. (My ISP supplied a Technicolour TG582N, shonky bit of kit, spontaneous reboots, drops all wifi clients when it feels like it, load of rubbish!)

    I've been using the ISP-supplied router since it was installed on 24th December and just today have configured my Alix to replace it.

    My line is officially supposed to be 76meg down and 20meg up, I have to say I'm very impressed with the results, this test was done over wifi (Meraki MR12 AP) from the other side of the house so I could possibly even improve on these speeds.

    This is in conjunction with an VDSL modem supplied by OpenReach in the UK (the installers contracted by most major ISPs to hook up VDSL connections). The model in my case is a ECI B-Focus V-2FUB/R rev.B. WAN port configured in Pfsense as PPPoE with normal credentials from the ISP.

    So for anyone else thinking of replacing their 2D3 when upgrading to VDSL/FTTC/Fiber broadband, save your money there's no need! VPN Performance is adequate for my needs, I don't do a lot on it really and haven't measured the speeds, normally I would just be accessing documents from my server but I can happily stream a 720p video from home, over VPN to an Android tablet connected by 4G without any buffering or slowdowns.

  • Yes  Alix 2D3 are nice. I did not expect it to perform this well with your connection though.
    I am still using mine although it will be replaced with a ALU soon (just did not get around to do it)

    Also I am wondering… are you running pfsense 2.2 on the Alix ? Don't know if it makes much difference on overall pfsense performance but web interface is much faster (as expected from the PHP changes). It really makes a difference on the Alix as the interface was always a bit slow.

  • Hi again

    I was running 2.1.5, hadn't checked for updates for a long while. The web UI was reasonably snappy no major issues there, although with the Code-Red theme it wasn't displaying correctly in Google Chrome (the drop-down menus had text overflowing the red menu background) but apart from that all is good.

    Just upgrading to 2.2 now using the built in upgrader so will compare the two in terms of performance.

  • Recommended: Take a separate CF for fresh install 2.2 and keep 2.1.5 on another. Import the 2.1.5 config.xml.

  • I was a bit late reading that post and have already upgraded to 2.2 but I've got two other identical units with 2.1.5 in case it ever fails.

    Upgrade went smoothly and all works well after although I found it had removed all packages I had installed, nothing major though I only really used blinkled which I've reinstalled and works fine on 2.2. Package installation is also faster than I remember too.

    There's maybe a slight increase in UI performance, more noticable on some pages than others. The display issue in Chrome on Code-Red theme is also fixed in 2.2.

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