X86 NICs and in-stock alternatives to PC-Engines APU2?

Thankyou, these look interesting. Some are very close in price to the APU2s. "Mini PC ethernet" seems to be a good set of search terms on Alix.

Ahah, now I can see them. That's super-useful, thankyou.

Ooh they actually have those in stock. Last time I looked at pine64 everything seemed to be OOS.

Any comments about quad-NIC brands? I presume I can't just buy anything 2nd hand and expect it to work. New ones seem to be most of 200AUD sadly.

Thankyou for the offer, really appreciate that. Alas shipping from US to AUS is a bit of a pain at the moment, I don't want to drag you into that. Auspost (government-run postage service) has an official US->AUS dropshipping service that I have been meaning to try out, I'd rather let them bite any difficulties.

I'd go for a used server brand NIC - DELL, HP/HPE, Sun, or the chip makers, like Broadcom, Intel, etc.

I'm actually not in US, but in EU, if there's a difference, from an AU post point of view :wink:

Woah 15USD. I need to stop using Australian eBay when searching for 2nd hand equipment.

EDIT: there's a joke in here somewhere about even one gigabit port being futuristic tech in Aus xD
https://www.jw.com.au/startech-4-port-pcie-gigabit-ethernet-network-card-st1000spex42
https://www.mwave.com.au/product/startech-4-port-pcie-gigabit-nic-network-adapter-card-quad-port-ab86444

It's probably the shipping and AU customs & VAT (if applicable) that's going to be expensive,
not the hardware itself :wink:

Buy three, sell the two spares in AU, for a little extra, and the one you're keeping will cost you $0.

I think pretty much anything that uses at least somewhat recent Intel controllers should be fine but I know for sure that Fujitsu designed NICs works =)
https://wiki.freebsd.org/arm/RockChip#Tested_PCIe_devices_on_RockPro64
Do note that most (I think all tbh) listed non working PCIe cards is down to hardware compatibility and/or limitations not the OS/PCIe driver.

In the 21st century it's more of a problem just for BSD-based firewalls like pfSense or OPNSense, and also a problem of "cards/dongles with realtek are lower quality and may fail/overheat/whatever" more than a real realtek brand issue.

Realtek did some crummy ethernet controller hardware in the past, and even now it's not amazing but since they have not made a whole lot of new gigabit ethernet controller designs in a while, they did hardware revisions to fix stuff and software drivers matured a lot and worked around most/all issues.

As a general rule, if you can get your hands on an used server-grade Gbit (multiport) ethernet card it's going to be better, and you can get them for real cheap.

Dell/HP/Fujitsu/IBM will use either Intel or Broadcomm controllers and both will work ootb and fine on OpenWrt.

You can probably get buckets of those if you allow chinese sellers on ebay or even if you hit aliexpress. Boy they got a lot of used server stuff to sell you. I've been farming 10Gbit cards and SAS cards (for storage drives) like that for a while, and so far everything worked fine.

It's a different thing. Realtek ethernet controllers are not the same thing as Realtek ethernet switches (like 80% of unmanaged switches and a good qunatity of managed) or realtek sound chipsets, or anything else made by Realtek.

qotom and friends on aliexpress, amazon, ebay, etc?

The Qotom boxes are great. I've had a Q350G4 based on an Intel i5-4200U running OpenWRT for a couple of years now. No issues at all.

It has bags of headroom performance-wise, and I'm sure I could run OpenWRT virtualized and have a load of other stuff running on it if I could be bothered.

As other suggested Aliexpress has mini PCs.
Eglobal is the generic brand of Protectli.
If you need a full open source solution you can try flashing coreboot yourself, at your risk.

Since the Wan side is only 100Mbits, you could use a managed switch for the 2 wan connections, and connect it to a single port in the router. You needs to create to 2 Vlans in the same interface. In theory you could have 3 Vlans in the same interface.

@CopperCassette
It depends on your threshold on how reliable you need hardware to be. Realtek NICs "works" however targetting bottom of the barrel for pricing you do get what you pay for. There are a lot of silicon fixes/workarouds in Realtek's drivers, vendor isn't all that great (compared to lets say Intel, Chelsio etc) but it's cheap and pushes packets. You can more or less compare it to anything else in a similar position, cheap breaking pads vs more expensive/premium etc. Pricing doesn't necessarily always reflect on quality but in many cases (to some extent) there's a reason which may or may not be of importance for your scenario.

And in practice? Less or more?

Never heard of a limit for VLANs (beside the maximum of 4096, which is based on the 12 bits for the VLAN-ID).

Some cheaper managed switches have a limit at 16 or something.

Mikrotik switches running SwitchOS have a limit at 250 I think.

When you are doing VLAN in hardware (like managed switches do) yeah you can have all kinds of weird limits you want due to what the hardware can actually do.

There are also limitations if you want to offload the VLAN on the network controllers.

Only more expensive hardware (and software VLAN i.e. done on the CPU) supports the full 4096 range

Thanks for your reply.

I think @Leonardo is talking about OpenWrt router devices, not any other equipment like switches etc.

Are there any limits set up by OpenWRT (beside the 4096 limit)?

@CopperCassette needs 3 ethernet ports based on post: WAN1, WAN2, LAN
I was suggesting a SFF with 2 ports or even 1 port may be enough, if a managed switch is used and VLAN configured.
WAN/LAN traffic is only 100Mbits, plenty of bandwidth.
LAN can be segmented even more and have more VLANs, but hen 1Gbits may not be enough.

If you do VLANs on the router you need a managed switch to split them into non-VLAN ports for other devices.

Unless you enjoy setting VLANs on all nodes in your network. Fun for printers and other dumb embedded devices that just don't have that setting at all

Yes, but those limits depend on the underlying switch hardware and their drivers (the actual limits vary, but can be very limiting for some hardware).

I ran across another ebay item that might meet your requirements. See Lanner Electronics FW-7541C-E01/A | x86 Firewall | 6 PORT | 4GB RAM 30GB SSD listed for $70 each plus shipping with multiple available.

^^ this
SW302DA is such a nice device for 50 bucks.

That thing is also very outdated and borderline e-waste :wink:

Regarding the SW302DA

The post describes an issue with the intel C2000 chipset/platform, which has nothing to do with SW301DA/SW302DA, nor has it anything to do with the D525 based router RaylynnKnight posted.

I'd rather re-use e-waste for as long as possible, than spend my money on new, future, e-waste.

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I apologize, Google listed it as a C2***-platform. If you want to buy old obsolete hardware sure, make little sense for longetivity, reliability and power efficiency though.