I said I'd post about the PFSense router, so here it is. I've put together the hardware based on a lot of research. There were some hickups, but it ended up OK. I actually finished this almost two months ago, but hey, better late than never!
- MBD-X10SLL-F-O uATX Server Motherboard (LGA 1150)
- Intel Celeron G1820T Dual-Core CPU (2C, 2T @2.4 GHz 35W TDP)
- 8GB Kingston Unbuffered ECC DDR3 1600 RAM
- SanDisk SSD PLUS 120GB MLC SSD
- Intel 82573L Gigabit NIC (w/ riser)
- Supermicro CSE-512L 200B Case w/ 200W Power Supply
- Supermicro Passive LGA 1150 Heatsink
The reason I went with the Celeron and not the Intel Xeon E3 1220L v3, which has hyperthreading and a much lower TDP at around the same price, is that PFSense only recently added multi-threading support, so I believe I'll actually get better performance out of this higher-clocked chip. It's a little-known fact that all consumer Intel chips in the i3 line and bellow (Pentium, Celeron, Atom) support error-correcting memory, so there are no compatibility issues using this OEM consumer chip. Edit:
I might actually be forced to get
a higher-clocked i3 after all due to OpenVPN adding support for Intel AES-NI hardware acceleration. I will take the opportunity to benchmark this, however, and post an update with the results.
You might also ask (rightly) why anyone would spend $500 on a router. Well, I have two main reasons: the first is that I am now using Ting's gigabit fiber, which you basically need a custom solution like this to take full advantage of, and the second being that I want to run an always-on VPN for privacy at the router level, which actually requires a fair amount of computational power at these speeds. There's other fancy stuff I can do too, like run a router-level firewall and (very importantly) an ad-blocker, but those are the main reasons. Also, if it wasn't clear why I had a second NIC, it's because PFSense requires this for separating the WAN and LAN.
Here are some pictures of the build:
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And finally, I just picked up this military-grade portable server rack for my entire setup that I can just slap a shipping label on and send anywhere I want on eBay last week for cheap. I'm moving in two weeks, so it will definitely come in handy.
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