Pfsense Build - 1U, Quiet, Short Depth

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Robert Fontaine

Active Member
Jan 9, 2018
Ok.. I bought a bare itx chassis...
iStarUSA D-118V2-ITX-DT Black Metal / Aluminum 1U Compact Desktop/Server Chassis - Really the only thing I can say about it so far is that it was cheap. Then I realized what a good deal the supermicro 1U chassis are recently as they include a 200 Watt Gold power supply... (But I digress)...

I have ordered a flex atx power supply Silverstone FX350-G 350w gold and hopefully church quiet (silly expensive - and no Canuckstani distributors - but finding a psu in this form factor that is actually intended to be quiet seems to be unobtanium )

A couple of these
Noctua A-Series NF-A4x10 ... I may end up having to go back for the 20 mm version
but I'm crossing my fingers that the air flow works:

  • 40mm
  • Rotational Speed (+/- 10%): 4500 RPM
  • Rotational Speed with L.N.A. (+/- 10%): 3700 RPM Airflow: 8.2 m3/h
  • Airflow with L.N.A.: 6.6 m3/h
  • SSO2
  • Acoustical Noise: 17.9 dB(A)
  • Acoustical Noise with L.N.A.: 12.9 dB(A)

For disk I will throw in an ssd or a sata dom from somewhere in my piles on the shelf. Something small, cheap and quiet.

Now the tough part.... Indecision.... Motherboard/CPU....

I seem to have developed a fetish for Supermicro motherboards but dual intel nics, with AES-NI, and low power do not seem to be a common combination. I could daughterboard a pcie intel 4 port nic ( have a couple of them on the shelf but if I don't have to jerry rig bracing to make it fit nicely I would be happier with dual nics....

a) Supermicro A1sri-2558f Server Motherboard C2558 - This seems like overkill but it ticks all the boxes

1. Intel® Atom processor C2558, SoC,
FCBGA 1283, 15W 4-Core
2. Up to 64GB DDR3 1600MHz ECC
SO-DIMM in 4 DIMM sockets
3. Quad GbE LAN ports
4. IPMI with dedicated LAN
5. 2x SATA3 and 4x SATA2 ports
6. 1x PCI-E 2.0 x8 slot
7. 4x USB 3.0 (2 rear, 1 via header,
1 Type A), 2x USB 2.0 ports (rear)
8. 12V DC or ATX Power input
9. Operating Temperature: 0°C - 60°C
10. 7-Year product life​

Mitac PD10AI MT Intel Apollo Lake N3350 Thin Mini-ITX Motherboard w/2X Intel LAN - price wise this little guy is cheaper than the SM options but surprisingly not by a lot.
  • Intel Celeron N3350 Dual Core Processor (2.4GHz MAX)
  • 7th-Generation Intel Apollo Lake Platform
  • Dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet Ports
  • Two M.2 for Storage and Expansion
  • On-board DC-DC Power Supply
  • Triple Independent Display
  • 8GB Maximum Memory
  • PCIe x1 (2.0)
  • UEFI Only; Does not Support Windows 7 or earlier

Supermicro A2SAV-L Mini-ITX Motherboard - Intel Atom processor E3940
  1. Intel® Atom processor E3940 (9W, 4C)
  2. Intel® Goldmont microarchitecture 14nm System-on-Chip
  3. Up to 8GB 1866MHz DDR3L Non-ECC SO-DIMM in 1 socket
  4. 1 PCI-E 2.0 x2 (in x8), and 2 SATA 3.0
  5. 1 M.2 M-key with SATA
  6. 1 HDMI, 1 DP, 1 VGA or 1 eDP, Intel HD Graphic 3 independent displays
  7. Dual GbE LAN with Intel® i210-AT
  8. 12V DC Input and ATX Power Source
  9. 2 USB 3.0 ports, 4 USB 2.0 ports, 3 COM ports, and 1 DOM connector

SUPERMICRO MBD-X11SBA-LN4F-O Mini ITX Server Motherboard Socket FCBGA1170 Intel - modern motheboard - 6 watts ( hard to imagine) , 4 NICS and SATA DOM
  1. Intel Pentium Processor N3700,
    Single socket FCBGA 1170, 6W
  2. System-on-Chip
  3. Up to 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 Non-ECC SO-DIMM in 2 sockets
  4. 1x PCI-E 2.0 x1 (in x8),
    1x Mini-PCIe (mSATA support)
  5. Quad GbE LAN with Intel® i210-AT
  6. 1x HDMI, 1x DP, Intel HD Graphics,
    VGA port for BMC
  7. 2x USB 3.0 ports (2 rear), 7x USB 2.0 (2 rear, 4 via headers, 1 Type A)
  8. I/O: 1x SATA DOM, 2x COM, TPM 1.2 header, ALC 888S HD Audio
  9. IPMI 2.0 with dedicated Port and KVM
  10. Supports 12V DC power input

Jetway JNF591 Intel Braswell Celeron N3150 SoC thin Mini-ITX board -

This seems like a nice little board - Quite pricey.

- Intel Celeron Braswell N3160/3150 SoC Processor
- Embedded Long-life Series, Lifecycle through Q1'2023
- Ultra slim, low-power, thin form factor design (board z-height is 20mm)
- Supports M.2 (SATA only, M key-2242/2260/2280)
- Supports VGA, DVI-D, LVDS 3 Independent Display
- ECO-design for EuP/ErP

I currently only get 150 Megs down and 15 up with an option for 300/20 if I feel like increasing my cable bill. I suspect any of these will get the job done. I use VPN/AES-NI far less than I should but in practice it is a toy rather than a requirement for my dungeon/lab. Similarly, I tend to use DNS filtering lists rather than deep packet inspection so my need for processor and disk is not all that high.

The real objective here is 1U (fits into a short depth networking rack), whisper quiet, reliable.
I am running PFSense on a old Dell Optiplex sff 990 at the moment ( This is the second one - first ones PSU died) and it has been adequate for the job but I would like to clean up my little networking rack, put it in a cabinet on the wall and close the door.

I have a little APC 7800 PDU, HP fanless 24 Port Procurve switch, patch panel, a couple of small 1U servers, 1 for PFSense the other will be a small media server, then add 2U worth of file server (something like a R210 II) and declare success once it is all in a little networking cabinet on the wall.

Have a bunch of other project to complete but this one will tidy up at least a few cubic feet of mess and decibels of sound.

... So happy to hear any suggestions or recommendations.



Active Member
Jun 7, 2016
You think you can build a box cheaper than them? Go for it. I have one of their older 4 port models and it is "adequate". If I were building my own today I would find a supermicro x9sci-ln4 in a supermicro chassis on eBay. Paired with any i3 or e3 it will draw under 20 watts idle running pfSense. The last one I bought was 120 USD with chassis but without cpu or memory.


Build. Break. Fix. Repeat
Feb 15, 2015
I would, and have gone with C2558 myself :)

Like @fractal said too though, hard to beat the SM Board / x9 board with a V2 E3 Xeon, super low idle :) and CPU prices have tanked on those making them really great lil-boxes and 1U with CPU/RAM $150-200 I've gotten before too.


Mar 2, 2016
+1 to the QOTOM box; it's been rock solid and barely gets warm with my 250/10 connection. I bought mine on Alibaba so it took a while to arrive but otherwise painless transaction.