Building a dedicated pfSense firewall server
Jan 20, 2017
2 minute read

With my OpenWRT router set for retirement, it was time to start thinking about a replacement. This time I wanted something with a few more bells & whistles, something I could grow into and learn with. So I set my sights on pfSense.

With the software decided, I needed to pick some hardware to match. I wanted something rack mountable, low power and because this will be in my home office, it has to be quiet.

The SuperMicro 5018A-FTN4, appeared to have everything I wanted.

  • Rack mountable
  • Forward facing NICs
  • No CPU fan
  • Low power

Peaking under the hood of the SuperMicro 5018A-FTN4, there really isn’t much to see. A single board with embedded Intel Atom CPU, a power supply and case fan. A little less than half the system is empty to allow for the addition of hard drives and/or an expansion card.

Server Chassis

pfSense does not require much in the way of storage, so I opted for a small SSD. At 120GB it is still way larger than I will need for this project.

ADATA 120 GB SSD

Hard drives can be screwed directly to the chassis or mounted to an optional hard drive bracket.

SSD Mounted

The only down side to this system is it requires 2 sticks of ECC SODIMM. These are not so easy to find and I could only get 8GB sticks at the time. 16GB is way more than pfSense requires.

16GB Kingston ECC SODIMMS RAM Installed

With assembly out of the way and the server racked, it was time to install pfSense.

Server Racked