Low Power pfSense Router

When I moved into my current apartment, I switched to a Dell Optiplex 780 as a router, which worked well for about a year. Power draw was a little higher than I’d like, around 60 watts, but it handled its router duty without any complaints. During a warm day in July 2014, the Optiplex’s power supply exploded, literally. I purchased a Dell Poweredge R410 to replace the Optiplex with the idea that I need something reliable since I work at home all the time. The Poweredge also worked very well as a router, you might even call it overkill, but the power draw and noise got annoying.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to build a low power system that had easily replaceable parts for cheap. Not an easy task to do, but with some help from a friend, I was able to spec a nice system out. Here is what I built:

Biostar A68N-5000 motherboard ($50)
Silverstone Tek Mini-ITX SG05-LITE case ($40)
ADATA Premier Pro 32gb SSD ($42)
Silverstone Tek 300w SFX power supply ($55)
4gb G.Skill Ares (pulled from HTPC)
2 port Intel Gigabit PCIe card ($20)

I purchased the motherboard/CPU combo from a friend, but new is only slightly more expensive than what I paid. In total, I spent around $200 for a very low power system that uses common parts. If the power supply, hard drive, or memory go out, I have spares I can pull from my HTPC or, at very worst case, my desktop. I still keep the old Optiplex 780 as a backup in case the new system catches fire or melts, though.

The motherboard and hard drive take around 10 watts to run and the case fan takes around 2 watts. With everything installed and running pfSense, the system was pulling 15.6 watts, according to my Kill-a-watt meter. It is also dead silent, which is nice.

Here is the system before I put it on the network:

ITX Router Front (2015) ITX Router Left Side (2015) ITX Router Right Side (2015)

2 thoughts on “Low Power pfSense Router

  1. hi,
    Did your pfsense setup work ok with your new motherboard?

    I am thinking about replacing my pfsense router with this motherboard, i am just not sure how it will work.


    • Hello elamigosam, pfSense worked fine with my motherboard once I disabled the option in pfSense to modulate the processor speed. Otherwise it was restarting every few minutes. I’ve been using it since mid-February and have had absolutely no problems.