Mini-pc or special hardware for pfense? Please give me your opinions

  • Hi guys,
    I am very new on pfsense and I really want to test all its functionalities and possibilities and use it at home. My setup is quite simple for now:

    • 2 PC
    • an ADSL connexion
    • 1 PS3
    • 1 WII

    What I need:

    • a box with 3 nics (wan, lan, dmz)
    • a box with a wireless card to manage my wireless connections.

    what I want to test:

    • VPN
    • Squid
      for now.

    I am currently trying to find a box where I can install PF and test it and replace my dsl router by PF. I have see a lot of post here where people have install it on different kind of hardware.
    What I want is:

    • the box should produce no or very little noise in use
    • the box should no consume too much electricity

    I have see there some special hardware but it seems that they will not fit my needs because there aren't much memory in them and because I also want to try some packages like squid it could be not enough…

    What about mini-pc like Shuttle or AOpen?

    I am a little lost here. Any help will be greatly appreciated!


  • What bandwidth, what type of VPN and how many at a time.

    If you're talking about up to 20 Mb/s and only a single VPN at a time, the FX5621 should do nicely.  It works with either a 2.5" hard disk, or a compatible Microdrive (hard disk in CF form).  Using a microdrive it's silent by my standards (I might not want it on my bedside table, but if it was elsewhere in the room I'd not hear it) and draws relatively little power.  The problem is the more you want it to do, the more powerful it'll need to be, so the more power it'll draw.

    Unless they've improved a lot in the last couple of years, the Shuttle boxes aren't close to silent (and many aren't low power), they're really just compact.  The first generation AOpen PC wasn't exactly quiet either, though I don't know about the current version.  If you want a standard PC then I'd suggest you look to the mini-ITX form factor.  With a little care you can build a near silent (passively cooled) box with a 1.2 GHz processor and multiple NICs.

    The FX5621 comes with 4 100 Mb NICs, 2 Gb NICs (only supported in 1.2.1 and later) and a mini-PCI socket for a wireless card.  I'm using the previous model (FX5620) on a 20 Mb/s cable link and it copes with ease, running Squid+SquidGuard and OpenVPN.  The memory should be enough (and can be upgraded), though I'm not sure how the V4 processor in the new model compares to the C3 in the old one (it's slightly slower, but it may still perform better).

  • I think I might be looking for something similar. How much did the FX box cost you? How much should it be now?

  • ISTR it was in the region of £300.  Various places sell them online, I bought mine from LinITX.  They also stock a slightly lower spec and cheaper FX5420 model.

  • Seems cool!
    But I live in Canada. Do you think this device can work here?

  • Power Requirement: DC 19V input (AC/DC Adapter supplied)

    So yes, it will work everywhere on the planet where they have a power socket. If the supplied adapter doesn't work with your power grid, you could always get one that works. But as far as I know both the US and Canada get 110V out of their wall sockets so you should be fine.

  • Yup, it came with a universal AC adapter.  You should be able to buy it locally anyway (or at least if not then south of the border).

  • Would you know of a US retailer of FabiaTech products.  I'm unable to find one….


  • It looks like may ship to the US (they optionally display prices in USD, and offer US mains plugs on some kit).  LinITX also shows prices in USD.

  • @romainp:

    Seems cool!
    But I live in Canada. Do you think this device can work here?

    go to and get yourself a nice alix kit… you wont have to pay customs fees and all... just taxes  ;)

  • Thanks all of you, I will try to check the different options that I have now. I will let you know what will be the hardware that I will use and ask you your opinions if you don't mind.

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