I have recently had the idea rolling around in my head to build up my network since its basically the setup that the guy that installed the satellite put together. I don't know much about networking in general and was wondering what to really look into.
I have the Computer to build it out of but I'm not entirely sure what I need in terms of NICs and stuff. Also what I should run alongside the router in terms of programs to improve performance?
Really you just need a PC. If it's just going to do router stuff (DHCP, DNS, ETC) you can get away with one NIC. But if it's going to be on two networks IE ISP > Modem > Pfsense > LAN you'll need two NICs.
Yeah, pretty much any PC with two NICs is all you need. If you can; get intel NICs but most things will work fine. If you want wireless I'd suggest using an external access point, but if you're hell bent on putting a wifi card in it then definitely check out the supported hardware on their website first.
As for performance, some people will probably say squid, but I think for a small number of users (anything not in an office or something like that) then a proxy cache will probably reduce performance more than increase it. You could also set up the traffic shaper to do QoS, but it's a little complicated if you don't know what you're doing. It also introduces overhead so it's only worth doing if you really need it.
Playing around with something like pfsense is a great way to learn about networking, I'd just start with figuring it out and then go from there.
I forgot you said satellite. It might help, but still I'd say probably not. Your browser already has it's own cache so adding another one generally just adds a delay to your browsing while it checks to see if there's an update to the cached files. You can give it a try though and find out for yourself, squid is pretty straight forward to set up. The SSD probably won't make much of a difference as small files will already be cached in memory.
And that NIC should work fine, although I'd go for a PCI-e one if you can, but if you use the onboard NIC and one PCI NIC then that will work fine.
From what I understand it depends on your NIC, you can get some decent throughput though, enough that it doesn't bottleneck when you have multiple people watching stuff on a crappy connection. (The bottleneck is the internet) so you will have to ask them for a better answer.
It depends mostly on your CPU speed. I'd say that anything faster than an atom could probably do gigabit, pretty much anything should be able to do 100mbps. The reason people suggest intel NICs is because the TCP offload is pretty much broken on most other brands, especially realtek, but this doesn't really make a difference if you have a decent CPU.
If you're buying NICs to use, buy Intel. The pfsense documentation states that they are the best supported and have the best performance. However, most of mine are Realtek and work just fine. I have squid set up for caching and don't experience any discernible degradation in performance.
Awesome, then yeah, you could easily put the PFSense at the border of your network, running all the services, (DHCP, DNS, etc) and turn off all those services on the Asus, and use it strictly as an AP for your network.