Opinions for first time Pfsense build list

  • Hello

    This is going to be the first time for me to use Pfsense. Been using Tomato on my Linksys, but I believe Gigabit Internet will be coming soon to where I live. I'm also interested in content filtering for my kids. Tinkering with other options of Pfsense may also happen :)

    I put together a build list on PCpartpicker to get ready to buy my hardware. I am asking for opinions on if this looks like it will work. I realize its overkill, but I want to futureproof this thing for as long as possible while making sure I hit full Internet speeds.


    Here's a list:

    Is an additional cooler necessary?

    Thanks for any input


  • Sorry to see no replies yet.

    You don't need an "S" series cpu and would be best spending the money on beefier processor that can burst to higher clocks. Basic intel cpu coolers should be plenty also.

    You don't need 16 gig of ram unless you're running an enterprise. 6-8 gig is my personal recommendation if you want to tinker.

    A cheap ssd would likely be better than a mechanical drive

    A better nic (eg i350) will serve you better than more ram, and give you more room to grow.

    If at all possible, I'd be shooting for an atom system (C2758 based like the one in this thread https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=82773.0 ) unless you have a specific desire for a custom rig.

  • Or, for dirt cheap get an old 2 core machine in the 2+ GHZ range with 2GB of ram or more, a reliable HDD or SSD.  64GB or more is plenty.  Drop in a very cheap intel NIC for a LAN.

    You can probably score all this used cheap stuff on ebay for $100 or so.

    Then play away.  Once you have figured out what you really need then invest in newer pfsense tested and proven hardware.

    Or just run your $100 box until it quits working.  None of mine have yet )-:

  • Thanks for the replies. I like the advice about getting something cheap until I figure out what I want and faster Internet speeds arrive. I currently have speeds of 50 down and 5 up.

    I'm considering upgrading my current server and making my current server a Pfsense box. My current server is this:

    Foxconn R10-S4
    Intel Atom 330 dual core
    2 GB Ram
    already has additional Intel Gigabit NIC

    My only concern is that it lists that the MB NIC is a Realtek 8100C(10/100Mbps). Any ideas if that is compatible? I didn't see that on the FreeBSD compatibility list.

    This will be my first foray into BSD. My server is a headless Ubuntu box, but I'm sure its not the same.



  • I think it might be fine as is.  It certainly doesn't need any upgrades.

    What I'd do is burn a full install image of pfsense to a CD.  Boot from CD without installing.

    See if the NICs are both detected fine.

    If both current NICs are detected, you don't need to buy anything.  Just install pfsense and you are done.

    You box has more than enough of everything to be your main router for a long time to come.

    If it happens that the realtek NIC isn't detected, buy a used Intel PCI-X Dual port Gb NIC on EBAY.

    Its longer that the PCI slot but will fit work fine for your speeds - Up to a gigabit or so.

    The portion thats out of the slot will simply be ignored by your system.

    I have 1 box running like this.  The Card can probably be had for about $20.  Maybe less.

    From what I can tell that 8100C is currently supported by pfsense 2.2RC but try it to check anyway.

  • Great. Thanks for the input. I'll give it a try.


  • athlon 5350
    asus AM1M-A (more pcie slots for expansion later)
    16gb crucial ddr3l ecc
    intel network card (pick two single ports, or single dual,etc)
    sata-dom 16-64gb

    pick a case and psu

    aes-ni, ecc, and low power for cheap

  • Thanks for the suggestions messerchmidt.

    kejianshi, I tried a live CD and it shows that it recognizes the Realtek NIC on the MB and the Intel NIC I have in the PCI slot.

    I'm going to put together a new server. Once that's done, I'll see what this Atom will do with Pfsense.

    Thanks again


  • Unless you have some seriously fast internet, it should be fine for a long while.

  • my first (and current)  pfsense box, is a build out of old parts. core 2 e6420 with 4gb ddr2, dual intel pcie nics, 200gb sata. old antec case and a antec psu.

    using on 16/10 cable and its a beast. even without aes-ni,etc - no issues so far.

  • Netgate Administrator


    Unless you have some seriously fast internet, it should be fine for a long while.

    Of course the definition of 'seriously fast' depends on where you are.  ;)
    You will have no problems at 50/5 and I would expect that box to be good to at least 300Mbps of firewall/NAT. If you start adding hungry packages it would be a different story. You asked about content filtering which in pfSense implies Squid and Squidguard. That will reduce your maximum throughput significantly. Should still be fine at 50Mbps though.


  • I suspect it would look same as my personal pfsense I use most:

    Load average
    0.00, 0.00, 0.00

  • Netgate Administrator

    ;D Yep

    [2.1.5-RELEASE][root@pfsense.fire.box]/root(4): uptime
     4:58PM  up 69 days,  1:43, 2 users, load averages: 0.02, 0.01, 0.00

    The thing is though most people are not really interested in the average processing potential. They just want something capable of peak throughput above whatever their ISP is promising them.


  • 69 days is pretty good - I don't have that pfsense on an UPS yet so I get maybe a week before the power flickers and it reboots.

    I do recommend UPS for the router and switches, BTW.  Mine should be on UPS in another month or so.

    The 2000 Watt UPS for that one is already there.  I'm just waiting on the batteries another month.

    As far as peak performance, this one is an old 2.4 GHZ athlon x2. 
    It a very weak processor by todays standards and on a 60/60 connection its never topped 14% even when maxing out the bandwidth for long sustained periods.

  • Thanks for all the assurance that my old server will do what I'm looking for. I just ordered the parts for my new server(http://pcpartpicker.com/p/XJ8Jqs). When I get it running, i'll begin tinkering with Pfsense on the old one


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