pfSense - Electricity Cost

I just calculated that it costs me $12/mo to run my pfSense router.

(measured at 108watt)

  • I've shut down all but 2 cores and VERY under clocked everything.
  • I'm running RAM disk and HDD shuts down after 6 minutes of no use.
  • It's got a big graphics card in it because I can't boot without 'a' graphics card. I don't know how to bypass that check during boot.

Any other ideas for saving power?


Seems like the problem is you just cant get past the hardware using more power if its not designed to use less power.

You could swap out parts.. but it depends how long you plan to run it for and if you'd get the money back. (unless youd doing it because you want to make a low power build , not to save money). Is that an option?

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you could get a cheap passive graphics card, gt210 or something like that.


High power consumption is what keeps me from running older hardware in a 24/7 configuration.

There are many embedded boards available for pfSense that consume less than 10 w idle. A solution like that pays for itself over time.

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If you want to save power you are much better off using low power components to begin with, My pfSense box is using an AMD Athlon 5350 which is a 25W TDP part and is also super cheap and doesn't use much power, you could also just get a Sempron 2650 which is the dual-core version and is pretty much the cheapest CPU on the market and throw in any AM1 Motherboard and your set, if you plan on using this long term then you'll save more money than you'd spend on power.

Get a power supply with a lower wattage at a higher efficiency.
Use something with newer, low-power hardware, like for instance a modern Pentium or Celeron or even an Atom SoC motherboard. AMD E-series APUs come to mind.

something like this

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I prolly should have mentioned that I'm using my previous gaming PC to save cost...

I calculated it would take me about 3 years to pay off a new box using the saved money from power.

Really the most economical solution is to somehow reduce the power of the rig I have.

Good idea. How cheap can they get?

Without replacing components.. your probably not going to. you might be able to skim off a little power here and there, but the simple thing is if its on and doing something.. its going to use that power.

You can get a Radeon X1550 for about £15, depends if thats what using all the power though if its worth it.

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I have a passive tiny graphics card but it has a weird output (workstation dvi???) and the OS won't boot all the way with it anymore. I think it got damaged at some point. When I measured the power with it, I got it down to 76watt (from 108watt). That brings the cost down to $8/mo.

37 dollars on newegg

That'll be a DMS-59 connector, it's basically two DVI and VGA outputs crammed onto one connector.

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108 watts!?!

My dual Xeon 2699v4 (at idle), modem (ubee), rt-n16, all together uses about 160w.

You're doing it wrong.

You can buy something like this now, (they come in different configs)

I've signed up for this kickstarter, which should be a nice pfSense SBC. Probably under 10w.

But 108w to run your old computer is a joke. Just sell it and spend the money on a lower power system.

How are you measuring it?

My APC ups shows 183w for all of my equipment.

pfSense pc
NVR server
File server
3 switches
wifi ap
poe switch
4 poe IP cams

Would something like ALIX work?

costing on average of $185 and running at 4watt it would only take about 1 year to pay off.

ALIX boards now available

That hardware list is from 2007, a similar setup today would look like this:

Board: APU.2C2 - $149.95
Case: Enclosure 3 LAN, USB for Alix.2 - $14.95
Power supply: 12V/2A AC-DC Power Adapter - $9.95
Storage: SD-card or USB drive, $5 tops if you don't already have one

~$175-180 total

There is also a version of this board with 4 GB of memory.

Note: there are other shops that sell embedded computing stuff, this just happened to be the first one that popped up.

Just be aware that a board like this will struggle to handle gigabit internet speeds, I don't really recommend this setup for internet connections above 300Mbit/s.

Im not the OP

I think yall are missing the point....

If I wanted to buy all new hardware to make a pfSense from scratch that's a totally different post. I'm only doing this because I have my old gaming machine sitting there not being used. Buying NEW hardware would take years to pay off using money from power saved. I'm not going to buy computer hardware that takes years to pay off because in 1 year it'll be outdated and something twice as good for half the price will be available.

The point is to do the most economical thing.... reduce the power cost of what I have.

Who would buy an AMD phenom II x6 with 8GB ddr2 ???
(and an AMD 6870 that occasionally blue-screens.)

If you can't/won't build new, only thing I can see you doing is:
Getting a cheap and lower powered video card
Underclocking the CPU more if you can.
Turn power savings on within pfsense: system/adv/misc: Power Savings
Turn on any Bios power saving setting, assuming there are any.

Past that I am kinda out of ideas

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But then in 3 years your have the same problem or worse. Think about it.

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Should I also be lowering the voltage???

Well... except that I would have gotten through 3years without spending more money than necessary. This same hardware should support me even into gigabit. (only on cable right now)