Level1Techs | Build a Router 2016 Q4 -- pfSense Build

I've been using pfSense at home for several years and I've been really happy with it. It's traffic shaping alone is worth the effort to get it up and running, being able to completely eliminate intermittent high-ping/lag from bandwidth saturation has been a huge improvement over my previous dd-wrt/tomato firmware routers.

I've also provisioned an ELK/Elastic Stack VM to consume all of the logs from the pfsense box for realtime analysis. It's been pretty handy to have some kind of analytics to see whats going on and whats being attempted upon my home network.

The setup for Elastic Stack isn't really for the faint of heart, but it's worth it and makes a great addition to the pfSense router if you have any interest in network security.


I'd be more worried about the reliability of the hardware due to its age and depending on when its board was built the quality of the caps on the motherboard. The late p4 era is when a lot of companies bought Chinese capacitors that failed universally(its the reason a lot of boards still advertise Japanese capacitors on the box). The story was that the Chinese stole the formula from a Japanese firm for the electrolyte and either got it wrong or stole a fake formula, either way they failed like crazy.

If the system has pci express(the very late p4's could) then I'd say go as long as the caps look good. That way you can buy a pci express multi port nic for it and if you like it you can always reuse that nic on more modern hardware.

1 Like

Are there any tutorials that show to set something similar to what you had done.

Wendell bot looks



guys i have been thinking about virtualize a pfsense router on a hyper-v, it will be shared with other systems, do you guys think its doable?

@wendell would you consider doing a video comparing virtualization platforms? I want to run pfsense on a server that is currently occupied but has resources to spare. I think it would be cool if you did a video contrasting Xen, ESXi, and KVM.

Visualising pfSense does work and some people use it that way but I've only ever had experience with pfSense on physical hardware so I couldn't give you specifics. I have heard the argument that installing pfSense on a VM is a bad idea because it is "critical network infrastructure" and for security/reliability concerns it is best on physical hardware but as I said, I have real experience with it but yes, it does work.

1 Like

I have been using PFsense two years now and really like it. If you plan on running a home server(s) it is a must have.

My box:

1 Like

I don't know if it's been brought up. But you're planning on building a pfSense box, please make sure you're using Intel or Broadcom nics as they are typically hardware accelerated network adapters. Atheros, Realtek, ect.. may work and if they do, they will not perform as well as Intel and Broadcom interfaces.

Here's a tutorial that appears to be written very recently: http://pfelk.3ilson.com/2016/11/kibanaelasticsearchlogstash-plugin-x.html

I've skimmed trough it, the only thing it seems to be missing is the actual "getting started" with kibana which is the Webserver/Graphing/Dashboard side of the ElasticStack. You'll have to look up some guides on how to use Kibana and setup the "visualizations" to apply to your dashboard.

that would be great i want to virtualize a pf sense installation to reduce the computers i currently use. + i have some muscle to spare as well.

@MichaelLindman said it was doable, and i was thinking of using microsoft hyper-v since i have a microsoft server 2012 license, but i would like to see those other options you mention.

my current plan is a 3 NIC machine...

NIC 1 for wan use (cable/modem)
NIC 2 for LAN (switch exit)
NIC 3 for the other virtual machines (trafic from the switch)

i would try with only 2 NICs but idk about that network infraestructure issues, i would think its fine if you set up Vlans correctly.

im not a pro on the subject but very enthusiast about it

1 Like

Wendall (and team),
This video is really superb. I have been consuming that content Logan and you produced over at teksyndicate for a little while now and I have been compelled enough by your quality content and interesting projects to follow you over to this new endeavor. I second the feelings of others here in these comments that this video is really raised to the next step compared to some from just a few months ago and that if this quality continues I feel this site will be very useful to many and be very popular.
Now for my Pfsense setup:
old compaq with an AMD athalon 3500 processor, 2 GB ram and a 1 TB HDD. System is set up with about 890 GB worth of space for caching. This is the router for my home with very few systems, but it has surpassed my expectations and improved my experience greatly. I can stream games and videos without a hitch (assuming my 3 MB down Internet can keep up).
Keep up the good work!


Wow, this video came out at the most opportune time for me.

I just downloaded pfSense the other day too!

1 Like

I've used pfSense at a job a few years back.
They needed a new solution, and didn't have the funds to replace what they had.
A Core 2 Duo PC and a few network cards later, they had a new firewall/router that ran circles around the Linksys router running it before ( think it was a RVS4000 ). It was a network of about 200 PCs. Last time I checked on that installation, it was still running happily without human intervention. That's pretty neat for basically free.

I've recently built a pfSense box for my own use. The heart of the build is a Jetway NF9HG-2930 mini-ITX board. It's got enough CPU power and interfaces that make it ideal for my needs. With a 128GB MSATA SSD and 4GB DDR3L, it's been flawless for a couple months now. I've plans to add a 3G/4G module for fail over and a GPS module for NTP.
Overkill? Yes. Awesome? Also, yes.

I'm new here and terrible at introductions. So..errr.. Hi?


i just watch the old pfsence video with logan. this video is much more informative and gives you a good graps. you will still need to look up things and the steps but its nice hearing from a professional what to do and what to look for. After waiting a month or two i found all these pc for free on craigslist due to a company upgrading to mac pro's. just a small office of 5. their loss

-TS server
-pfsence box on very top
-2x gaming servers
-linux data server
-website hosting

todo: email server.

Anyone have tips on where to pick up multi-port NIC expansion cards? Used is fine - even preferable for cost reasons.

Which brands/manufacturers should we be on the lookout for, and any specific models in particular that play nice with BSD? I always hear HP and Intel mentioned in this context, however I can't confirm if that is correct info -- Broadcom also gets a quite a few nods. I'd guess that PCIe x1 would be the interface to go with - lots of older Dell Core 2 Duo desktops around with those slots unpopulated (I've got a Q6600 I'd like to try my hand at pfSense with).

Thanks in advance for helpful tips, cheers!

Thanks for the responses.

Ebay is probably your best bet. Found a pfsense supported dual port intel nic here for $13. Theres quite a few other options, there's a few quadport nics, but they're in the $30-$50 range on ebay and most seem to ship from outside of the US.

I really liked the video. The format was refreshing with the sped up configs while Wendell talked about the software. That way you can if you needed slow down the playback and follow the settings if you are doing it. If not the content is still moving and interesting. Well done.

Id very much like a VLAN video. Myself that would be me learning a lot more. Perhaps even a few super popular addons.

1 Like

I would be really interested in traffic shaping / QoS.

1 Like