Small and Silent PFSENSE build recommendations

Ch33rios

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Nov 29, 2016
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I've had my Ubiquiti ER-X for quite a while now and while I really like its price point and general ease of use, I'm looking to get back into pfSense for something that really provides me with a bit more customizability and power when it comes to my primary home routing device. That being said, I'd really like to use something thats small/compact, compatible with future AES-NI required pfSense builds, and is relatively silent+power efficient.

I've recently been eye-balling the QOTOM devices that seem to be popular on Amazon but was looking to see if perhaps I should just roll my own mini-ITX build with a pico-PSU for minimalist size.

Anyone have any advice they can give on a super small pfSense build that's compliance with its future AES-NI requirement? Thanks!
 

herby

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Aug 18, 2013
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Not trying to dissuade you from pfSense as I'm sure it will have better versatility, but you might be interested in the upcoming EdgeRouter 4 or 6 in beta now.
 

rubylaser

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Jan 4, 2013
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I just built a pfSense box with the little brother of that CPU. I picked up (2) 2GB sticks of RAM for $5/each and an IBM I340-T2 for $14.99, and I have a great low power pfSense box for less than $100 (I already had a 60GB SSD, Mini-ITX case, and PSU). As an FYI, I went from an Edgerouter Lite-3 to this.

ASRock J3355B-ITX Intel Dual-Core Processor J3355 (up to 2.5 GHz) Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo - Newegg.com
 

Ch33rios

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Nov 29, 2016
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I just built a pfSense box with the little brother of that CPU. I picked up (2) 2GB sticks of RAM for $5/each and an IBM I340-T2 for $14.99, and I have a great low power pfSense box for less than $100 (I already had a 60GB SSD, Mini-ITX case, and PSU). As an FYI, I went from an Edgerouter Lite-3 to this.

ASRock J3355B-ITX Intel Dual-Core Processor J3355 (up to 2.5 GHz) Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo - Newegg.com
Cool! What case do you have? I cant seem to decide on one that fits my want for a super small footprint so it will either (1) fit in my little media/wire alcove or (2) not look ridiculously garish on my closet wall (yes its still gotta be somewhat bearable.
 

wiretap

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Jul 14, 2015
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I would recommend going with a Jetway build.. it has dual Intel NICs onboard (pretty important for stability and drivers) for WAN+LAN, and supports AES NI for the new version of pfSense upcoming that will require it to run. This is passively cooled as well, so zero noise. It has mSATA for OS + Squid Cache, and a mini-PCIe slot if you want to add a guest WiFi hotspot. The NUC sized form factor is nice to save some space.
Amazon.com: Jetway JBC313U591W-3160-B Intel Braswell Celeron N3160 Dual Intel LAN Fanless NUC Barebone PC: Computers & Accessories

I have one of these, but don't run pfSense on it yet. I'm currently using a Jetway N2930 with 4x Intel NICs, until the AES-NI requirement kicks in.
 

T_Minus

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Wow $230 and you still have to add a SSD and RAM, and only get 2 ports...
 

Evan

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Jan 6, 2016
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It's one of the only newer CPU version with intel NIC x 2 and fanless, wait till you see the price of similar from supermicro etc !!
I did a lot of looking a while back but in the end decided not for me, I also didn't like potential outages, reliable was priority 1, I am not saying any issues with that hardware just don't know.
 

T_Minus

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@Evan I can only assume you're referencing @wiretap link as you didn't quote me, or anyone in reference to what you're replying too ;) ;)

Would really like to have seen 4 ports!!
 
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Evan

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Jan 6, 2016
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@T_Minus yes I was, was lazy as it was just next in the flow.

My head is telling me to buy a fortinet fg-61e for my own use going forward for my FW needs... expensive but actually the commercial solution seems the easiest.
 

epicurean

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Sep 29, 2014
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I got this ASROCK board , Asrock IMB-181-L Socket LGA1150 Q87 chipset Mini-ITX

And paired it with this cpu, SR1BT - Intel Xeon E3-1220L v3 1.1 GHz 5 GT/s LGA 1150 CPU US free shipping

I already had the cheap SODIMM, and a nice mini itx case which I got from Amazon, Amazon.com: IN-WIN Mini Tower Case BQS656.DD120BL: Computers & Accessories . Case was pricey, but it just looks so nice :)

This setup replaces my Edgerouter ER8

PS - oops forgot I also got a cheap HSF, although not sure if its really needed , Amazon.com: Zalman CPU Fan Cooling CNPS7000V-AL(PWM): Computers & Accessories
 

mmo

Active Member
Sep 17, 2016
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I got this ASROCK board , Asrock IMB-181-L Socket LGA1150 Q87 chipset Mini-ITX

And paired it with this cpu, SR1BT - Intel Xeon E3-1220L v3 1.1 GHz 5 GT/s LGA 1150 CPU US free shipping

I already had the cheap SODIMM, and a nice mini itx case which I got from Amazon, Amazon.com: IN-WIN Mini Tower Case BQS656.DD120BL: Computers & Accessories . Case was pricey, but it just looks so nice :)

This setup replaces my Edgerouter ER8

PS - oops forgot I also got a cheap HSF, although not sure if its really needed , Amazon.com: Zalman CPU Fan Cooling CNPS7000V-AL(PWM): Computers & Accessories
The MB looks like only support Intel® Core i7 / i5 / i3 / Celeron® (Haswell).
 

Marsh

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May 12, 2013
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I have 8 of these Tyan S5533 boards , I used it everywhere, from NAS to Firewall.
Tyan S5533GM2NR-LE Mini-ITX Mainboard Intel (1)Socket LGA1150 | eBay


It has 2 Intel I210 + dedicated IPMI network port, full remote KVM support
It supports Intel Xeon E3-1200 v3 & 4th Gen. Core i3-i5 series processors.
Put in a regular lowly Pentium to I5 CPU, it would do everything you want.

Can't wait for cheap E3 v3 CPU to flood the market.
 
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poutnik

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Apr 3, 2013
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I don't know how easy it is for you to get one of the PC Engines apu2 systems, but they are small, silent and run extremely well. I'm running in total 3 of them, the oldest one is something like 10 years old (at least two generations old). I don't see myself using anything different if I have to deploy another one.
 

rubylaser

Active Member
Jan 4, 2013
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For me, the integrated Intel NICs make the difference. I wouldn't run Realtek LAN on a gateway device if someone paid me.
That's why I just added a dual port PCIe Intel NIC instead. I don't use the onboard Realtek NIC at all[emoji1]

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 
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mackle

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Nov 13, 2013
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I love the form factor of the A2SAN-L (although way too pricey for me) - the two onboard NICs mean the case can be super small too.

Anyone know of a smaller case than the ML05b, that supports a low profile NIC, 2.5 drive & a pico-psu? I'm weighing up just going 2u, if I can get a case sub-$50, but size-wise they're overkill (and the j3355b mobo is slightly too tall for 1u).