What Wireless card/s are you using?

  • Hi all,

    I have just started using pfSense on my LAN computer and would like to have the ability of having WIFI on the box to, as i'm using a the router my ISP gave me for WIFI. What PCI cards are people using out there? I was thinking about the TP-LINK TL-WN951N 300 Mbps Wireless N card. Would this work?


  • Atheros AR5BXB112 AR9380 PCI-E 1X PCI-E Wireless Desktop WiFi WLAN Card 450M Dual-band (2.4/5 GHz)

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    I personally would not put wifi in your pfsense box.. If you want to isolate wifi, then have a nic/vlan in your pfsense and use a real AP or a wifi router as AP like your currently doing.

  • @johnpoz:

    I personally would not put wifi in your pfsense box.. If you want to isolate wifi, then have a nic/vlan in your pfsense and use a real AP or a wifi router as AP like your currently doing.

    Agreed with this comment, I started adding the wifi to my PFsense box and ran into some small issue, no show stoppers but speed wasn't there and some other minor annoyances, now i got a dedicated Wifi Vlan and I ma using Asus RT-AC68u as my AP. I got a couple of desktops using Asus Wifi adapter and speed are pretty cool.

    just my 2 cents!

    (New member here, but I've been lurking around the forums for a long time and had been using pfsense for years)

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    To add to the speed thing, cards are normally not meant to be used as AP.  What is the spatial streams of that card 2x2?  Could not find it anywhere on the tplink site - but with max rate of 300 I would have to say its only 2x2 at best, but amazon shows that the 851 is 300 with 2x2, but why then is the 951 which is shown as 3T3R only 300 as well, shouldn't it be 450 if 3x3?  The antennas only have 2dbi gain.  When you use a card your placement is limited to where pfsense is located - if using a AP you can better place for better coverage with just a cable running to where your router or switch is.

    I could see why you might want/need to add wifi to your router for say a bridge or just access to the router over wifi - but if what your looking to do is provide wifi access to clients use a real AP, or if has to be done on the cheap then sure any wifi router can be used as AP.

  • I think i have seen less than good results with the tplink "N" cards. I think anything atheros is good and the guy above with the ATH AR5BXB112 is right on. Put that in a Mini PCIe adapter for a desktop and good to go.

    As stated above i believe in a degree of separation on my pfSense wifi boxes from my main pfSense box.. I use older embedded boxes for standalone pfSense access points. The Riverbed Steelhead 100 can be had for cheap along with a host of older alix boxes which make good AP boxes. Really depends what your talking about for usage..

    As for speed I agree a dedicated AP with its ASIC is faster. So depends on your expectations.

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    So you create a AP with pfsense and some wifi card in a box??  Why would you not just by a REAL AP??  I could see using a old 20$ wifi router in a pinch - but to actually create a AP using pfsense??  Not like its wifi support is even good…  That would be clearly not the direction I would ever in a million years take.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Yep, use something built on an Atheros chipset. Use something built on an older chipset. 802.11AC is right out!
    I personally used a card in my home box (when I had a homebox with a miniPCI slot) because I had the hardware available. It was useful, it worked fine in 'g' mode. I used it as an admin only wifi channel. However I still had separate access points as well because the range on the miniPCI card was bad and I can't move the pfSense box.


  • Thanks for all of the input. I probable should of added some more information about the application and how I have stuff setup so I will now.

    Application: This is a small home network and the I dear is to get the rest of the family on to the network through the pfSense box and not through the Router my IPS gave me. So I can control it better.

    Setup: My ISP is BT and they gave me a R3 router and that is serving my house for WIFI. I have a LAN connection coming to my pfSense box for all of my LAN computers.

    pfSense box: Dell optiplex 740 with on board nic as WAN and for the LAN a old TP-Link gigabit network card

    What I would like it to do: I would still have the LAN connection as there are. With the WIFI I want to do two things first I would like a privet connection for my family and second a guest connection that people could log in to when people come over.

    I would like to achieve this as cheap as passable as this is just a 'Hobby'…


  • Netgate Administrator

    I'm not familiar with anything BT supply being labelled 'R3', do you have a link?

    If you want to do it as cheaply as possible use what you already have. Almost all soho 'routers' can be configured to run as a wifi access point. Some can run multiple ssids in order to appear as two networks which can be sent to pfSense separately so different rules can be applied.



  • Cheap!….>  ASUS RT-N12/D1 Wireless-N300 $35


    Little fancier, still on the cheap side.

    UniFi Indoor Wireless N300 Access Point - $70


  • @stephenw10:

    I'm not familiar with anything BT supply being labelled 'R3', do you have a link?


    It is an ADSL modem and router built in to one, so I would heed to keep that as it is.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Ah, I'm familiar with the Home Hub 3. I one here I'm using as an access point right now.  :)
    It can't do virtual SSIDs and VLANs though.


  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    The unfi $70 AP should work just fine..  It supports up to 4 SSIDs and vlans.  I am currently running my wifi on different segment using pfsense, and also have a guest on a different vlan.  So I limit what the wifi can do, and on the guest - other than pinging my pfsense gateway it can not talk to pfsense, can not talk to any other segments lan, wlan, dmz and doesn't even use pfsense for dns.  The dhcp on that vlan hands out public dns to use.

    With the unifi ap you can run their free controller software in a vm in the cloud if you want, etc.  And get lots of info about your wlan users and guest.  Have your guest via a portal, can use voucher system to auth if you want, etc. etc.. Lots of bells and whistles.  Clearly that would give you better coverage and features then putting a wifi card into pfsense.  Your talking peanuts for cost of the AP.. Like 35$ more than some wifi card you would put into pfsense.

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