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I get my wish (a pfSense router)

Remember back when I was considering a pfSense build? Well, it turns out it was a lot easier than I though.

I realized I could buy (for about $7) an Intel dual-PCI Ethernet card (HP NC7170), and the $6 riser card would allow me to fit it into my case. (I had to do a little bit of metal cutting with a Dremel, since there are no PCI slots in the back of the computer.)

So, that allowed me to get full gigabit speeds off the pfSense. In addition, I’m now* using Intel cards to do so, so that should be better in terms of offloading the CPU.

Here is a picture of this build:

pfSense build with Intel NIC wedged in

pfSense build with Intel NIC wedged in

Note that the Intel NIC is sort of resting on the ac/dc adapter (which I also stuffed into the case, since I had removed the PSU that came with the case). I later reinforced it (sort of) with zip-ties.

This is something I meant to post earlier, but forgot for a long time. I finally have a free night (where I’m not working), so I thought I’d catch up.

* And since I built this, I’ve changed my setup. I noticed that the PCI card was drawing about 10 watts—meaning, when it was plugged in, I’d see 35 Watts total, and when I removed it, it was 25 watts total. (This is steady-state power, after the router booted up.) So, I went to vlan tagging with a openWRT router, and am using the single gigabit Ethernet that is built-in to the motherboard. At first, I worried about using a Realtek NIC, but I haven’t had a single problem with them. The point with the Intel cards was to offload the CPU, but the higher power doesn’t seem worth it. Finally, I notice that the Alix boards all have Realtek NIC’s.

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