Picking the right hardware

In our first episode, I showed you the first version of our home router I've built with the help of OPNSense.

In this chapter, we will have a look at the struggles of picking the new platform.

Intel or AMD?

While it might seem clear nowadays, which route (hehe) to go, it's not that clear when building a mini-itx size build. First, there are some prerequisits for my build, which have to be met:

That's it. I don't need server-grade hardware. It would be nice, but no. This basically automatically excludes every piece of hardware from Supermicro. It's cool, and nice, and all that - but I'm not yet willing to pay 200 € for a mainboard - because I don't need to.

The needs

When talking about what the router needs to offer, we need to stop here for a second: Keep in mind that this is a build for a small home. It's 3 people, everyone watches streams and everything, so we have roughly 800 GB of data per month. We have ~30 active devices in our network. That are high-speed data devices like computers and phones, but also devices like raspberry pies or similar.

So? AMD then? Because cheap?

You might guess that I went for AMD, because they are pretty cheap at the to get in 2019. Well, turns out that M-ITX boards aren't that cheap.

As of today (2019-10-27), reasonable m-itx boards start at 108 €, more realistically at 120, 130. That's a lot for a mainboard.

As for processors, we need a "G"-series processor (the ones with iGPU), because it doesn't make sense to put a gpu in this device (aside from the wasted space). So we either need a Ryzen 3 2200G, 3200 G or a Athlon CPU.

When checking the prices, one clearly notices that the available(!) processors will start at a ~55 €. That makes it 180 € for a processor and mainboard combo.

Intel? Really?

Turns out - yes. I went with Intel, because the Pentium G5400 isn't too far away from the Athlons, and the board are around 100 € with On-board Intel LAN.

So, as of today, this is my setup:

A small sidenote...

Initially, I considered the Biostar A10N-8800E as a great platform for this router:

Biostar A10N-8800E Source: https://www.biostar.com.tw/app/en/mb/introduction.php?S_ID=935

This mainboard has an embedded AMD FX-8800P processor, which is quite beefy. You can source the board at 85 € in my country, which is rather cheap. I went with it on my first try, but it turned out that the temperature went sky rocket. It was nearly impossible to really cool it down.

Up next: Let's build!

In the next part, I'll build up the system and give it a spin.