Budget pfsense ITX build help

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by jimbob200521, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. jimbob200521

    jimbob200521 Gawd

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    I'm looking to put together a pfsense build to replace my router. I'd like to stick with as small of a form factor as I can (ITX/miniITX?). Case/RAM/CPU I can figure out myself but I'm looking for some suggestions of motherboards that would work well with pfsense and be as cheap as reasonably possible (used is absolutely welcome). I'd of course need dual NIC's and it to be ITX/miniITX but beyond that, the world is my oyster.

    All suggestions welcome, thank you guys in advance!

    PS

    I'd also consider a 1U server since some of these can be had pretty darn cheap and I like server gear. However, this would need to be a quite unit (the two don't commonly go together, I understand) since it will be in the bedroom. That being said, I don't mind at all replacing stock server fans with Noctua's to lower noise. All told, I want to either go full tiny/sleek/custom build or 1U server (don't ask, I don't even understand me).
     
  2. Grebuloner

    Grebuloner Gawd

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    What's the budget?

    Any board will work, it's a surprisingly robust and flexible system.

    mITX, dual nic, cheap: pick 2. Even used ITX boards are fairly expensive-an H97 board alone costs the same as the B85 uATX/4370/8G combo I bought to sidegrade my current overkill i5 pfsense to. I'd recommend adding a PCIe Intel NIC (or dual nic, still a low profile card, especially if the onboard is some other brand like Killer or you want to VLAN) to a regular mITX board, even if it means the case is a little bit bigger. That would also allow for a taller cooler which will help with keeping it quiet.

    Server gear is a bit much for a home installation, and even 40mm Noctua 1U fans won't let you sleep at night (unless you want to leave the case top open, lay some 120mms on the sinks and leave it under the bed?).

    My personal recommendation would be to get a microATX board, pop in a dual Intel nic (less than $10 on fleabay), and pair it with a slim case, or buy one of those complete office refurb units for $150, add the nic to that and call it a day.
     
  3. Ready4Dis

    Ready4Dis Limp Gawd

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    Server stuff isn't to bad, my Dell r710 is older and louder, but I can easily sleep at night. It's not in my bedroom or anything. It has 4 built in 1g lan ports plus a 100m for the idrac. Probably overkill for a pfsense, but I run multiple containers on it, so it's more than just a router. It's my NAS, ldap, development (node, c++), Minecraft, Plex, database, and anything else I feel like having it do on a whim. That being said, an i5 would probably do everything and cost way less in power, but hey, I have 12/24 and 96gb of ram to play with, so why not. I have like < $400 total into it.
     
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  4. Ready4Dis

    Ready4Dis Limp Gawd

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    And to the original, my wife would kill me if the Dell was in the bedroom... So, if you are looking, make sure you know what you're getting into.
     
  5. Grebuloner

    Grebuloner Gawd

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    True, and I run a few Xeons myself; but for just a pfsense build the added cost/noise really doesn't get you anything more in the home setting. I had rackmount servers running in my basement for a few years before they were beyond useful. Could hear the roar right through the floor across the house. Not doing that again, especially since I don't need to save the space.
     
  6. Ready4Dis

    Ready4Dis Limp Gawd

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    He said he was interested I either itx or 1U, so I gave him my thoughts. It's good if you're using it for more than just pfsense or just to play with to learn, but way overkill for just a pfsense and loud when loaded (at least my server). He was pretty vague on details what he wants it to do though, possibly a bit more info could help. My thoughts are a decent branded half height nic + on board 1gb should be a good start with a cheap lower power Intel or AMD chip from this or last generation should easily keep up.
     
  7. jimbob200521

    jimbob200521 Gawd

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    Holy cow, I got zero notifications there were responses to my post, sorry for the delayed response, guys!
    Budget is...unknown at this time :confused: Obviously the less the better but I haven't set a dollar figure in my head yet. I have an extra SSD laying around I have plenty of DDR3 so if the board used that, I could save some change there. I mentioned itx and 1u because 1) itx = very small which would make building a sleek pfsense box that I could sneak in the bedroom an easy proposition and 2) I like server gear so a 1u server (if noise permitted and I know, the two terms don't usually go together) would be fun just to play with (obviously placed elsewhere). Micro ATX may work but since the box would pretty much just be a pfsense box (at first, at least) I would prefer not to waste space it isn't needed, hence the itx idea. I also don't need a bunch of SATA ports or anything else so pretty much anything that is moderately powerful (relative to the task at hand) and dual NIC's are what I care about.

    At this point, I want to start with pfsense and play/learn with it. Down the road, I wouldn't mind adding additional tasks and purposes to the machine, although I'm not sure what (suggestions welcome). I have a dedicated Plex server with 6 HD's and an SSD so I won't need Plex functionality down the road. I did try, just to play, installing pfsense on an older Bulldozer 8 core AMD board I had but it didn't pick up the NIC so no go there.

    I also like the idea of building a tiny computer (hence, again, the itx thought). But aside from pfsense, I'm not sure what I'd do with it.
     
  8. Ready4Dis

    Ready4Dis Limp Gawd

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    I mean, you can get an itx AMD board for cheap, and a 6/12 or 8/16 that can handle a lot more than pfsense. Example, 3600 is 6/12 and 2700 is 8/16.. neither costs that much considering. It can't use ddr3 sadly, but it would allow plenty of play room, small size (65w isn't to bad to dissipate, but you would need either headless setup or a GPU, or get an apu or Intel chip with igpu). So many options, really need to have a he what the target is, otherwise get the most you can comfortably afford otherwise you'll run into wishing you got more or needing a second build. I have 4 desktops that see normal use, 1 for a desktop cnc, and my server.... Plus a few laptops, lol. Soo... Yeah, sometimes it's hard to decide. I have a mitx, matx, full size atx, a Dell SFF (small form factor), and my 2U server, so I know exactly how you feel.
     
  9. Ready4Dis

    Ready4Dis Limp Gawd

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    Could you just pick up a cheap set of nics (or single dual nic) to put in the bulldozer to play? There is no reason it shouldn't be fine with pfsense. I run my Plex server on an SSD, with an 8 drive raid for storage, 24 threads and I think I limited it to 24gb ram, but could easily give it 64gb with some to spare for other stuff. I don't think it ever gets anywhere full usage of resources, lol.
     
  10. jimbob200521

    jimbob200521 Gawd

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    I don't much fancy using the bulldozer setup as anything other than a play thing simply because it's kind of flaky. The guy before me had CLAIMED some over 5ghz OC'd but I feel like he's either fried something as I can't get it to post with more than 1 DRAM in place and even then, it's touchy. Plus that's not exactly a power sipping system.

    That would be a good idea (get a cheap itx AMD board for cheap) but I have no idea what to look for that would fit the bill. That's kinda why I posted here, I'm not all that familiar with itx systems and beyond that, what would a well supported setup for pfsense.
     
  11. Grebuloner

    Grebuloner Gawd

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    I would caution you against a brand new platform (Ryzen 3k, Coffee Lake) for pfsense, the base system is FreeBSD and not frequently updated. Plus, the hardware requirements are pretty slim for home situations, anything used that comes with AES-NI instructions (most i3+ chips back to Gulftown/Westmere 32nm) will run great for you. I'm currently on a Haswell i5 with an Intel 4 port nic, and it's far beyond capable for all my stuff (many systems, server, wireless, VLAN, VPN). You'll save dough going used. You've got the DDR3, go to the forum FS/T section or ebay and buy parts from there. The biggest problem you'll have is ITX and dual nic. That is a serious limiter and will increase the price, lower-end chipset boards rarely come dual ethernet. This is a refurb with two Intel nics, requires an i3 or Xeon E3 v3 (can be found around same price compared to desktop line, board has a management GPU so you can get an IGP-less chip). If you want AMD...I couldn't find any ITX with dual network ports, plus the temporary GPU requirement+extra card makes initial setup pretty rough (it's doable, but won't be fun for your first time).

    The nics are also an important consideration. Atheros/Killer apparently doesn't work, and Realtek just isn't great. Intel has the best built in support and will provide the best performance, because a good card won't use CPU cycles. You can find new-old-stock low profile 2 port cards really cheap if the board doesn't use Intel, the i350-t2/t4 are tops if you want to spend, I have a couple, love them.
     
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  12. Ready4Dis

    Ready4Dis Limp Gawd

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    Most important thing is to check out what pfsense supports before you buy. There are plenty of it's boards for both and and Intel builds for some time now. I have a mitx Intel 6th gen in my daughter's box (with a full size gpu), but I run windows so can't comment on pfsense support. I almost pulled the trigger on a mitx ryzen but realized, I don't need it for anything.
    Suggestions from Grebuloner are pretty good to get started.