Tuesday, May 7, 2013

pfSense ver 2.0- Replacing the Cisco 881w with a home-made ITX system for under $200

After using a rather solid Cisco 881w for my home router the last year, I finally started looking at building a new pfSense router. The Cisco worked fine, but I missed the lower latency of the pfSense box and the familiar web interface I had used for years. I started browsing for hardware with the following requirements:

1) No fan
2) Powerful enough for a 100mb fiber line
3) Low power
4) Small form factor 
5) Under $200 new

After missing a 1u Supermicro D525 on ebay for a steal, I started browsing ALIX boards. I was mainly interested in the ALIX2D3, however after doing some research it appears to putter out around 80mb's. Next up were the latest gen Intel Atom boards- I had recently used one at work and was very impressed. However the model was ~$350 all said and done. I finally found this: 

The Intel D2500CCE. A fan-less dual core Atom running at 1.86ghz, DDR3 SO-DIMM, Dual Intel 1000mb NIC's for $99. It is very similar to the older D525- but with dual gigabit nics. For a extra $40 I added a well ventilated ITX case. Some time ago during fall cleaning at work, I scavenged a Pico 120w powersupply and brick from the junk bin which fit the bill perfectly. I could have ordered everything as a kit from www.Mini-box.com if I did not already have the power supply. I added a 4gb stick of Crucial DDR3 10600 for $19 and a used $40 Intel X25-M for a grand total of $199. 

The case and MB.

Motherboard installed.


Pico Powersupply.                                       

The Mini-Box M350 vented case.

Loading pfSense 2.03 RC.                 

It works!

After I burn it in for a few days, I will switch it out with the Cisco router I am currently running. Install was an absolute breeze and the entire process from assembly to running took less then 1 hour. Eventually I will dig out the Kill-A-Wall and IR thermometer to check power usage and heat output. So far it is running warm to the touch, but this summer in our old non AC house will be the real test.

Until next time!


1 comment:

  1. Is there any reason one couldn't run a PF sense on a laptop with a card bus Ethernet card to get to two 100 meg interfaces ?