If you are looking for a robust and flexible firewall solution, pfSense is an excellent choice.
And mini PCs are becoming increasingly popular for use with PfSense due to their compact size, low power consumption, and affordability.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of using a mini PC for PfSense and provide tips on choosing the right hardware.
What is pfSense?
Before we dive into the world of mini PCs, let’s first take a look at pfSense.
It is a free, open-source firewall and router software based on the FreeBSD operating system. It is designed to be used on dedicated hardware to provide network security and routing for small to medium-sized businesses, as well as home networks.
pfSense provides advanced features such as VPN connectivity, multi-WAN support, and traffic shaping, making it a popular choice for network administrators.
Why Use a Mini PC for pfSense?
While pfSense can be installed on a variety of hardware platforms, a mini PC is the ideal choice for several reasons, including:
- Compact size: Mini PCs are smaller than traditional desktop computers, making them ideal for small spaces, such as a network closet or under a desk.
- Low power consumption: Mini PCs consume less power than traditional desktops, making them an energy-efficient option for running pfSense.
- Cost-effective: Mini PCs are more cost-effective than traditional desktop computers, making them an affordable solution for running pfSense.
- Low noise level: Mini PCs have a low noise level, making them ideal for use in quiet environments.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Mini PC for pfSense:
When choosing a mini PC for PfSense, there are several factors to consider:
- CPU: The CPU is the most critical component of any computer, including a mini PC. For PfSense, it is essential to choose a CPU that can handle the network traffic without causing any bottlenecks. An Intel Atom, Celeron, or Pentium CPU is generally sufficient for most home or small business users.
- RAM: PfSense requires a minimum of 2GB of RAM, but it is recommended to have at least 4GB for better performance. If the mini PC will be used for other purposes, such as file sharing or media streaming, more RAM may be required.
- Storage: A mini PC for PfSense does not require a lot of storage space. However, it is recommended to have at least 16GB of storage for PfSense installation.
- Network Interface Cards (NICs): PfSense requires at least two NICs, one for WAN (wide-area network) and one for LAN (local-area network). Some mini PCs come with built-in NICs, while others require an additional NIC to be added.
Top Mini PCs for pfSense
The IT11 is an excellent choice for a pfSense firewall system, with its powerful hardware, flexible storage options, and compact size.
Its latest Core i7-1165G7 processor has a maximum turbo frequency of up to 4.7 GHz, with 4 cores and 8 threads, and supports 12M smart cache, making it an ideal choice for running pfSense applications.
This mini PC has a pre-installed Windows 11 Pro system, which can be easily replaced with pfSense, an open-source firewall and router platform.
Additionally, the compact size of 4.6 x 4.4 x 1.8 inches makes it easy to transport and install in small spaces, making it ideal for use as a firewall appliance in small businesses and home networks.
Setting Up pfSense on Your Mini PC
Once you have chosen your mini PC for pfSense, the next step is to set up the pfSense operating system on it. Here are the steps you need to follow:
I. Download the pfSense Image
- Visit the pfSense website and download the latest image file for your mini PC. Make sure to choose the right architecture for your device.
II. Create a Bootable USB Drive
- Use a tool like Rufus or Etcher to create a bootable USB drive using the pfSense image file you downloaded. Make sure to select the correct USB drive and follow the prompts to create the bootable drive.
III. Boot the Mini PC
- Insert the bootable USB drive into your mini PC and boot it up. Make sure to enter the BIOS settings and configure the boot order to boot from the USB drive.
IV. Install pfSense
- Follow the prompts to install pfSense on your mini PC. Make sure to select the correct hard drive and partition for the installation.
V. Configure pfSense
- Once pfSense is installed, you can access the web-based user interface by typing the IP address of your mini PC into a web browser. From here, you can configure pfSense to suit your specific requirements, including setting up network interfaces, firewall rules, and VPNs.
VI. Test and Verify
- After you have configured pfSense, make sure to test and verify its functionality to ensure it is working correctly. You can do this by connecting your mini PC to your network and testing internet connectivity and other network services.
Overall, using a mini PC for pfSense offers several benefits over using a traditional desktop or server.
With a GEEKOM mini PC, you can enjoy the benefits of a powerful and reliable pfSense firewall or router that is tailored to your needs.