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:
- PCI-E 2.0 x4 at least, for the i350-T4 networking adapter
- M2 SATA connector, for an on-board ssd.
- low-power consumption
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.
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.
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:
- Chieftec IX-01B-90W
- ASRock B360M-ITX
- Intel Pentium Gold G5400
- 2 x 4GB Ballistix DDR4-2400 16-16-16
A small sidenote...
Initially, I considered the Biostar A10N-8800E as a great platform for this router:
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.