Which Intel NIC for my configuration?



  • I'm building a new router, the motherboard only has 1 ethernet port. I need to feed it with 2 internet connections, each with 100mbps speeds. So this means I will need 2 WAN ethernet ports, and at least 1 LAN port.

    I haven't seen any threads that recommends any specific Intel models, so I'm thinking of getting this Intel PRO Dual Port NIC. Since my internet speed is capped at 100mbps, I don't need gigabit speeds for this NIC. Is this a good choice? If not any other recommended ones?

    $30 seems like a great deal for this, but price is not much of a concern if there are better ones.

    Also, should I buy a second dual port NIC for my WAN connection, or will the motherboard's gigabit port be sufficient? This single port will eventually need to go into a switch anyways.



  • @AxSD:

    Since my internet speed is capped at 100mbps, I don't need gigabit speeds for this NIC. Is this a good choice? If not any other recommended ones?

    Since internet is capped at 100 mbps why not just use a vlan on the motherboard integrated gigabit NIC?



  • @AxSD:

    $30 seems like a great deal for this, but price is not much of a concern if there are better ones.

    Is not a great deal, that's a server grade nic.

    As NOYB said, you can use a single gigabit port with VLANS if your swith supports it. But identify the nic in your motherboard, they are usually cheap crap.

    If you have any doubts buy a Intel Quad gigabit, you will have ports for both WANS, LAN, a spare one and the integrated gigabit.



  • @tirsojrp:

    @AxSD:

    $30 seems like a great deal for this, but price is not much of a concern if there are better ones.

    Is not a great deal, that's a server grade nic.

    As NOYB said, you can use a single gigabit port with VLANS if your swith supports it. But identify the nic in your motherboard, they are usually cheap crap.

    If you have any doubts buy a Intel Quad gigabit, you will have ports for both WANS, LAN, a spare one and the integrated gigabit.

    Yeah so isn't "server-grade" NICs more reliable than standard consumer NICs? I would still expect server hardware to cost more than consumer-grade hardware.

    A quad-port NIC is a great idea, by my concern is the traffic from both WAN and LAN ports might saturate the single PCI-e interface. This is why I initially wanted to get two dual ports instead.

    Would this Intel Pro/1000 TP quadport NIC be a good choice? I think it's the same one as the Intel NIC posted earlier, but only difference is that it has 4 ports.



  • @AxSD:

    A quad-port NIC is a great idea, by my concern is the traffic from both WAN and LAN ports might saturate the single PCI-e interface. This is why I initially wanted to get two dual ports instead.

    You mentioned that your internet speed is capped at 100mbps.  What other traffic will you be routing through pfSense?


  • Netgate Administrator

    It will not saturate a PCIe port. Do you actually need 4 ports though?

    You are each using different meanings for 'good deal' there causing confusion.  ;)

    Steve



  • Intel i350 is working great for me. They have both a 2 and 4 port version. Be prepared to pay some $$$. And don't get the HP versions or anything, only stick with Intel. HP has custom firmware and you have no idea what features are enabled/disabled.



  • I'm more on the cheap hardware side of things because in my case this was an office router supporting a lab and users.  So I got one of these:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833106033

    Works just fine with pfSense, never had an issue at all.  It's been in the box for three years.  There are actually two of them in there to support two WANs and two LANs.  I'm using the two motherboard NICs for a total of four physical NICs.  They're all Intel.

    Got one of these for my ESXi box, and it works fine too:

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T01KOC/ref=pe_385040_128020140_TE_3p_dp_1

    I haven't tested the dual-NIC board with pfSense, but I suspect that since ESXi sees it, pfSense probably does too.  It's an Intel chipset that's probably supported by the em drivers in FreeBSD.

    Lots of great suggestions on this thread, mine are more focused on what works for little cash.  If your technical requirements are more significant than a SOHO/Home installation, you should probably plan on spending more for different hardware.



  • @AxSD:

    I haven't seen any threads that recommends any specific Intel models, so I'm thinking of getting this Intel PRO Dual Port NIC. Since my internet speed is capped at 100mbps, I don't need gigabit speeds for this NIC. Is this a good choice? If not any other recommended ones?

    I've got identical NIC. Handles fine 300/300 WAN (one port) and 1Gbit LAN (other port). It's bare metal install and it works without issues on pfSense machine.



  • I use a EXPI9301CTBLK single port and EXPI9402PTBLK dual port intel gigabit cards on my setup for my lan and dual-wan connections. They work great. Using a Q1900M mobo and don't use the onboard rtl port. All purchased from newegg.



  • Since my internet speed is capped at 100mbps, I don't need gigabit speeds for this NIC. Is this a good choice? If not any other recommended ones?

    But please don´t forget that you will be even speaking about real and theoretical "speed"!

    • A 100 MBit/s card is serving something around 80 MBit/s like an older Alix Board (not the APU)
    • A 1 GBit/s card is really able to delivers something around 450 to 750 and more and there for I
      would consider to go with a 1 GBit/s network card.

    Yeah so isn't "server-grade" NICs more reliable than standard consumer NICs?

    For sure, but not in all scenarios and fields! Server NICs or hardware often comes with a so called
    digital signal processor soldered on the NIC, and is there fore taking much load from the CPU.

    I would still expect server hardware to cost more than consumer-grade hardware.

    Consumer NIC = small onboard soldered Chip for the network parities
    Server NIC = Digital signal processor onboard soldered

    The chip can do less and is less expensive too.