First PfSense box: buy used computer?

  • Here is what I plan on doing:

    -50/50 connection
    -VPN into network while traveling
    -Service about 4 devices (1-2 people using network)
    -Turning on Squid and Snort to learn/play around with.

    Since it looks like that building a box from scratch would be several hundred dollars, I think I'm going to start by getting a used desktop and Intel dual gigabit NIC, probably on eBay.

    My question is: What are some good used "bang for your buck" desktops I should be looking at? I'd like to keep it under $100.

  • Take a look at the hardware requirements page ( )

    You shouldn't have any problems finding a used desktop to use for pfSense, but I would recommend that you try and find a desktop that does have an Intel NIC.

    Look for some slimline Dell machines. They're cheap and use Intel.

  • That is EXACTLY the sort of deal I was looking for.

    Are some models more reliable than others? I imagine more business/workstation oriented ones might be?

    How much power do you think that will draw?

    Also, will these hold a standard size PCIe NIC? How much slower is a standard PCI?

  • You'll need low profile brackets for this one.

    As for reliability, I've personally used several of this exact model for years during testing. Currently have a friend using one and his uptime right now is at 670 days. I haven't had a single issue with 2.2.4 or any previous releases.

    PCI is obviously much slower but it does have 1GB on-board Intel Nic and one PCI-E 16x slot.

    If you pay shipping, Ill send you one for free. I live in Canada.

  • I went with a refurb Core2Duo box, like the Lenovo M58p units at NewEgg.  They're about $75-$85, come with 2-4GB of RAM and only pull 40W idle (55W fully loaded).  Add in a refurb low-profile dual-NIC Intel PRO/1000 for another $75-$85 and you have something that will do fine for up to 500 Mbps traffic.

    If something in the PC breaks, another one is only $75-$85.  And I can just move the NIC from one box to another (or replace it if it dies).

    Putting a SSD in the unit is overkill, but can drop your power usage a few more watts.

  • Thanks for your reply. How does the Lenovo compare to the Optiplex? I have my eye on this one:

  • According to some pictures online the riser card in that thing is PCI so you'd be limited to PCI expansion cards for additional LAN ports. But if you have a hard drive laying around that you can throw in it for $20 I'd try it out.