Ryzen 2500u laptop as proxmox/pfsense box

pillagenburn

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I was looking at getting a 2500u with a smashed screen and using it as a proxmox box and running pfsense and other stuff on it.

Anyone know of any pitfalls of this? Also will usb-c displayport boot in a way that allows me to get into BIOS and basic things like that if the screen is smashed? Or is that a feature that requires drivers?

Also, anyone know if m.2 dual ethernet cards usually work in place of the normal wireless card?

Thanks!
 

SamirD

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As long as it has a physical displayport or usb-c that works straight to a display like they did in 'the old days', then you should be find with this idea.

I've seen people use the single wired ethernet in place of an m.2, but honestly if it has usb3.0, I would just use usb dongles that have driver support in what you're running--much less hassle.
 

pillagenburn

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As long as it has a physical displayport or usb-c that works straight to a display like they did in 'the old days', then you should be find with this idea.

I've seen people use the single wired ethernet in place of an m.2, but honestly if it has usb3.0, I would just use usb dongles that have driver support in what you're running--much less hassle.

Thanks - Would USB 3.0 be suitable as a server-grade device? I was hoping to try to setup a pfsense router on it. I'm thinking it won't be.
 

bman212121

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"server-grade" as a loose term. If I saw the primary internet connection for one of my sites going through a usb dongle someone would be getting demoted, but in the same vein no one would be running their firewall off a consumer laptop. So for what you're doing sure a USB dongle should be just as adequate as the rest of the hardware behind it. If you have issues an outage for your house certainly isn't the end of the world and won't have a big impact other than other people in the house being annoyed they can't stream their favorite shows.

The long / short is I really wouldn't worry about it, even a USB3.0 device should be dependable enough for what you're trying to accomplish.
 

pillagenburn

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"server-grade" as a loose term. If I saw the primary internet connection for one of my sites going through a usb dongle someone would be getting demoted, but in the same vein no one would be running their firewall off a consumer laptop. So for what you're doing sure a USB dongle should be just as adequate as the rest of the hardware behind it. If you have issues an outage for your house certainly isn't the end of the world and won't have a big impact other than other people in the house being annoyed they can't stream their favorite shows.

The long / short is I really wouldn't worry about it, even a USB3.0 device should be dependable enough for what you're trying to accomplish.

Thanks for that input. I was thinking the m.2 device would better suit the whole server role thing.... I just wonder whether a wireless m.2 slot will work with a dual ethernet adapter (or through a m.2 to mini pcie adapter to dual ethernet?)
 

bman212121

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I'm not even sure what kind of adapter you're talking about to be honest. I'm picturing a little card that has two ethernet jacks on it that you're somehow trying to snake a wire out of the inside of the laptop to make that work. (Kind of the impression I'm getting from Google) I can't imagine trying to chain a bunch of adapters together will somehow be better than just using USB. One of the reasons why people hate on USB adapters is most of them use cheap chipsets with very few features on them, and from what I can tell these m.2 adapters are basically using the same cheap / no name ethernet chips as the USB adapters do. A USB3.0 hub should be able to support at least 4 gigabit adapters all on the same hub so to me it seems less complicated to simply plug in some USB adapters and be done with it. If you only get ~800mbps per adapter I don't think that's a big deal considering the cost of the solution.

The m.2 formfactor is a cluster and I recently learned there is an entire chart of different types of pinouts some of which are different by a single pin. (WHY???) It looks like the only combination that would be faster than USB3.0 is the "M" configuration since it's PCI-E x4. The "A" and "E" keys the PCI-E x1 slots it would have to be either 2 PCI-E 2.0 x1 or 1 PCI-E 3.0 x1 to be as fast as USB3.0. The Ryzen could be PCI-E 3.0 but hard to say what those cheesy little boards are set up with. So doing a bunch of adapters who know what you'll end up with as the final result.

https://www.atpinc.com/blog/what-is-m.2-M-B-BM-key-socket-3
 

bman212121

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Yea I could see using something like that if you were then going to toss a desktop card at the end. The only issue I'm seeing is that because it's a x1 slot you have almost no choices for dual port cards. The only ones I'm seeing are no name adapters so it might end up costing a bunch of money and not performing any better.

The one thing I'm not sure on is if you need that auxillary power or not. If you do then coming up with a 12V molex to adapt to that floppy connector seems like you'd need another power brick sitting there just to power the add-on card. So tons of potential failure points for something that might have zero gain.

So unless you have 2 m.2 slots, 2 of those adapters, two single port nics and a way to power all of that I'm not sure you'd come out ahead of just picking up 2 $10 USB adapters.

EDIT: Maybe this "RIITOP" card would make sense for that direction.

https://www.newegg.com/riitop-pcie1000m-2p/p/14U-0077-00007?&quicklink=true

It looks like they took a regular Intel chipset but then hacked it onto a different PCB with only a x1 connector. Probably not as good as an actual dual port Intel but might be good enough. It is a 14 year old chipset so probably doesn't work on ESXI but should be fine for Proxmox.
 
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pillagenburn

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Yea I could see using something like that if you were then going to toss a desktop card at the end. The only issue I'm seeing is that because it's a x1 slot you have almost no choices for dual port cards. The only ones I'm seeing are no name adapters so it might end up costing a bunch of money and not performing any better.

The one thing I'm not sure on is if you need that auxillary power or not. If you do then coming up with a 12V molex to adapt to that floppy connector seems like you'd need another power brick sitting there just to power the add-on card. So tons of potential failure points for something that might have zero gain.

So unless you have 2 m.2 slots, 2 of those adapters, two single port nics and a way to power all of that I'm not sure you'd come out ahead of just picking up 2 $10 USB adapters.

EDIT: Maybe this "RIITOP" card would make sense for that direction.

https://www.newegg.com/riitop-pcie1000m-2p/p/14U-0077-00007?&quicklink=true

It looks like they took a regular Intel chipset but then hacked it onto a different PCB with only a x1 connector. Probably not as good as an actual dual port Intel but might be good enough. It is a 14 year old chipset so probably doesn't work on ESXI but should be fine for Proxmox.

Pci-e x1 should be more than enough to run dual gigabit. I'd prefer not to go with Intel if possible, so I do see that there are some realtek chipsets out there that will do the same thing.

Then there is this monstrosity:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/4-Port-Gig...654695?hash=item59585e26e7:g:njwAAOSwEUJfanmv

4 port on pci-e x1 with realtek....... hah!
 

pillagenburn

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Yea I could see using something like that if you were then going to toss a desktop card at the end. The only issue I'm seeing is that because it's a x1 slot you have almost no choices for dual port cards. The only ones I'm seeing are no name adapters so it might end up costing a bunch of money and not performing any better.

The one thing I'm not sure on is if you need that auxillary power or not. If you do then coming up with a 12V molex to adapt to that floppy connector seems like you'd need another power brick sitting there just to power the add-on card. So tons of potential failure points for something that might have zero gain.

So unless you have 2 m.2 slots, 2 of those adapters, two single port nics and a way to power all of that I'm not sure you'd come out ahead of just picking up 2 $10 USB adapters.

EDIT: Maybe this "RIITOP" card would make sense for that direction.

https://www.newegg.com/riitop-pcie1000m-2p/p/14U-0077-00007?&quicklink=true

It looks like they took a regular Intel chipset but then hacked it onto a different PCB with only a x1 connector. Probably not as good as an actual dual port Intel but might be good enough. It is a 14 year old chipset so probably doesn't work on ESXI but should be fine for Proxmox.

Would the m.2 slot put out enough power, on its own, to power a NIC like that, do you think?
 

bman212121

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After looking at it, I'm going to guess that no it probably won't power anything without the auxiliary power.

https://pinoutguide.com/HD/M.2_NGFF_connector_pinout.shtml
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.2

Cobbling together those two sources, an A+E configuration has 4 x 3.3V pins for power output. Wiki states each pin is only rated for 0.5Amps. That means 3.3V x 0.5A x 4 = 6.6W max power output. Which that's only at 3.3V so unless they are stepping up that voltage then there isn't any 12V power that would be required for PCI-E to work. It wouldn't make sense to mix two power sources so it's likely that they expect the 12V power to come off that auxiliary power connector. So I'd guess nothing will work in the slot without an additional power source.
 

pillagenburn

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After looking at it, I'm going to guess that no it probably won't power anything without the auxiliary power.

https://pinoutguide.com/HD/M.2_NGFF_connector_pinout.shtml
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.2

Cobbling together those two sources, an A+E configuration has 4 x 3.3V pins for power output. Wiki states each pin is only rated for 0.5Amps. That means 3.3V x 0.5A x 4 = 6.6W max power output. Which that's only at 3.3V so unless they are stepping up that voltage then there isn't any 12V power that would be required for PCI-E to work. It wouldn't make sense to mix two power sources so it's likely that they expect the 12V power to come off that auxiliary power connector. So I'd guess nothing will work in the slot without an additional power source.

there is this.....
https://www.ebay.com/itm/AC-to-12V-...098446?hash=item1ec8d0130e:g:u0kAAOSwCWRgJU5Y
 

bman212121

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Yea which is what you'd need to make this work.

$20 for the brick, $30 for the adapter, ~$40 for a dual port nic. So almost $100 just to get a system with dual port nics on it. If you could find a cheap used desktop and toss in another nic it would probably make more sense since it won't be a big rats nest of parts sitting on the table, none of which can actually be fastened down. If you bump the ethernet cords going into the dual port NIC it would be pretty easy to unseat the x1 connector from that breakout board. Or just go back to spending $20 for USB NICs which will tolerate being removed while the system is running.
 

pillagenburn

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Yea which is what you'd need to make this work.

$20 for the brick, $30 for the adapter, ~$40 for a dual port nic. So almost $100 just to get a system with dual port nics on it. If you could find a cheap used desktop and toss in another nic it would probably make more sense since it won't be a big rats nest of parts sitting on the table, none of which can actually be fastened down. If you bump the ethernet cords going into the dual port NIC it would be pretty easy to unseat the x1 connector from that breakout board.

cheap ryzen desktop is $250+ for barebones, easily, and then you don't get a U-series CPU which is lower power. That's kinda the idea, I want something that I can run VM's on with a straight face and also act as a pfsense router (and other stuff) but I don't notice it on my power bill. Any Asrock 4x4 setup is $300-500.

so here is what I've got so far:

-ryzen 2500u bare motherboard: $50
-factory heatsink: $ 15
-power jack: $9
-8GB soldered memory: included
-128GB m.2 SSD I had laying around
-custom enclosure using plastic sheeting I have laying around: $5
-Adapter: $30
-dual port NIC (i have one but if you had to buy it): $10
-12/5v power brick: $15 (I found a deal)
-motherboard power brick (I have one already): <=$10

so around 150$ to get a 4c/8t ryzen vm server (cheaper for me since i had surplus free parts).
 

bman212121

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Yea if you're going to be making a case anyway then I would say then the adapter chain does make sense. You definitely should fab an actual mount for the card so you don't cause the system to flip it's lid when you bump it. That's probably the part that will make this make sense versus having the bottom of a laptop chassis with a bunch of cords running out the side of it so some adapter that's just sitting on the table next to it.

Sounds like you should have enough then to make it work, so throw it together and take some pics of the final build! :)
 

pillagenburn

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Yea if you're going to be making a case anyway then I would say then the adapter chain does make sense. You definitely should fab an actual mount for the card so you don't cause the system to flip it's lid when you bump it. That's probably the part that will make this make sense versus having the bottom of a laptop chassis with a bunch of cords running out the side of it so some adapter that's just sitting on the table next to it.

Sounds like you should have enough then to make it work, so throw it together and take some pics of the final build! :)

The 'case' willl consist of a plastic sheet sandwich
 

robijito123

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I would strongly recommend researching nics you are planing to use if you go pfsense as I have had trouble with realtek chipsets in the past, and virtually zero problems with intel cards, but probably solvable with google-fu. That being said it is possible to string a box togeher with a single nic. I would build a virtualmachine and build a virtual switching fabric to do everything, to say a physical managed layer 3 switch. If you want to have a physical cable to for say wan 1, wan 2, network 1, network 2 then you should plan for enough physical nics. Cpu wise I would think the 2500u should smash any of the Atom chips which work well until you start setting up encrypted tunnels or open vpn for your clients ;)
 

pillagenburn

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I would strongly recommend researching nics you are planing to use if you go pfsense as I have had trouble with realtek chipsets in the past, and virtually zero problems with intel cards, but probably solvable with google-fu. That being said it is possible to string a box togeher with a single nic. I would build a virtualmachine and build a virtual switching fabric to do everything, to say a physical managed layer 3 switch. If you want to have a physical cable to for say wan 1, wan 2, network 1, network 2 then you should plan for enough physical nics. Cpu wise I would think the 2500u should smash any of the Atom chips which work well until you start setting up encrypted tunnels or open vpn for your clients ;)

Encryption was one of the big considerations on this. If the 2500u (and the like) were readily available in the form and format of atom cpus no one would ever buy an atom CPU again.

Im going to screw a bunch of extra right-angle PCIE risers i have from an old server project down to a plastic sheet to make a rectangular "enclosure," mount the board in it on low profile brass standoffs, mount the NIC in one of the slots, have the bulk of the IO ports on the laptop board exposed via the adjacent riser slot, the front slots will have a single usb port from the other side of the board and CPU fan exhaust.

The remaining slot will be empty though i may look to install another blower fan or something to get airflow inside the chassis. I will be putting stick-on heatsinks on anything that generates any amount of heat as im convinced that this improves component life over the long run.

Yay!
 

bman212121

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I would strongly recommend researching nics you are planing to use if you go pfsense as I have had trouble with realtek chipsets in the past, and virtually zero problems with intel cards, but probably solvable with google-fu. That being said it is possible to string a box togeher with a single nic. I would build a virtualmachine and build a virtual switching fabric to do everything, to say a physical managed layer 3 switch. If you want to have a physical cable to for say wan 1, wan 2, network 1, network 2 then you should plan for enough physical nics. Cpu wise I would think the 2500u should smash any of the Atom chips which work well until you start setting up encrypted tunnels or open vpn for your clients ;)

The part that most people don't catch is that this is going to be PFSense in a VM. Proxmox is going to be handling bare metal so it changes everything as far as device compatibility. So device compatibility in this case is what drivers are available for Debian Linux vs being compatible for FreeBSD.
 

pillagenburn

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The part that most people don't catch is that this is going to be PFSense in a VM. Proxmox is going to be handling bare metal so it changes everything as far as device compatibility. So device compatibility in this case is what drivers are available for Debian Linux vs being compatible for FreeBSD.

Right, this will all be virtualized and driver issues shouldn't be a problem. The only shortcoming of this setup (assuming it all works) will be storage options and maybe lack of IOMMU.

Though theoretically i think i could use another pci expander type device on the m.2 storage port and run a RAID card from it. Or there are 5 port m.2 SATA cards available.
 

pillagenburn

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Just an update on this. I mounted the board on a plastic board, then mounted it in a very small microATX case with two 5.25" bays.

After im not completely broke I plan to put two 8 bay 5.25 to 2.5" hotswap cages in this chassis for a total of 16 2.5" drives. This will be run by a 16 port pci-e 3.0 raid controller (x8 but running at x4 because the 2500u only has a x4 port but should be more than enough for what im doing)
 
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