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Best pfSense routers [2022]

best pfsense routers hardware

Each time you connect to the internet, you expose yourself to the possibility of a cyber-attack. These attacks can range from wiping out your storage to denying you access to online resources. In more sinister cases, attackers may target sensitive data like your net-banking credentials.

A firewall keeps you safe from the numerous threats that lurk online. Firewalls come in the form of hardware or software, each with its own set of pros and cons. Typically, hardware firewalls are cheaper, but software firewalls are easier to install and configure. Nevertheless, they both have one major limitation.

In the majority of cases, firewalls are installed to protect your computer. This was fine till about a decade ago. Now, with the number of IoT devices we use, you need to install a firewall to protect each device, right? Wrong! You can install a firewall on your router. This helps shield all your IoT devices by blocking malicious traffic targeting them.

pfSense is one such firewall. It is open-source, so you can download it for free and also use it as a VPN or a load balancer. It also provides a user-friendly web-based interface. Moreover, once you install it on your router, it gives you tremendous control over traffic management.

Finally, pfSense is among the most trusted firewall solution, not only by their own claim. There are several online communities and forums which offer support for installation and use.

This article will list and review the best pfSense router available on the market. We will compare each one and try to highlight their use cases. We will then move on to our buying guide to discuss critical points to buying such devices. And close by answering some frequently asked questions.

Comparison of the Best pfSense Routers

ImageProductDetailsCheck Price
Protectli Vault FW4B on Amazon
Protectli Vault FW4B CPU: Intel Celeron Quad-Core J3160
RAM: 4GB DDR3
Storage: 32GB SSD
AES-NI: Yes
PORTS:
4x Intel Gigabit Ethernet NIC ports
2x USB 3.0
1x RJ-45 COM
2x HDMI
Buy on Amazon
Protectli Vault 6 Port on Amazon
Protectli Vault 6 Port CPU: Intel Quad-Core Kaby Lake R i5-8250U
RAM: 64GB DDR3
Storage: 960GB SSD
AES-NI: Yes
PORTS:
6x Intel Gigabit Ethernet NIC ports
4x USB 3.0
1x RJ-45 COM
2x HDMI
Buy on Amazon
Netgate 1100 on Amazon
Netgate 1100 CPU: Dual-core ARM Cortex-A53
RAM: 1GB DDR4
Storage: 8GB eMMC
AES-NI: Yes
PORTS:
3x GbE switched ports
1x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
Buy on Amazon
Qotom Q330G4 on Amazon
Qotom Q330G4 CPU: Intel Core i3-4005U
RAM: 8GB DDR3
Storage: 16GB SSD
AES-NI: Yes
PORTS:
2 x USB 3.0 Ports
2 x USB 2.0 Ports
1 x HDMI
1 x Serial Port
4 x Intel RJ-45 Ports
Buy on Amazon
HUNSN RS34g on Amazon
HUNSN RS34g CPU: Intel Celeron Processor J4125
RAM: 4GB DDR4
Storage: 32GB SSD
AES-NI: Yes
PORTS:
1x HDMI
2x USB3.0
1x VGA
4x RJ-45
Buy on Amazon
MOGINSOK MGSRCJ4 on Amazon
MOGINSOK MGSRCJ4 CPU: Intel Quad-core Celeron J4125
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 256GB SSD
AES-NI: Yes
PORTS:
1x HDMI
1x VGA
2x USB 3.0
4x Intel I225 Network card
Buy on Amazon
VENOEN Firewall Network Security Server on Amazon
VENOEN Firewall Network Security Server CPU: Intel Dual-core Celeron 3865U
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 512GB SSD
AES-NI: Yes
PORTS:
6x GbE RJ45
1x HDMI
4x USB3.0
1x RJ45 COM Port
1x Serial Port
Buy on Amazon
HUNSN RS03 on Amazon
HUNSN RS03 CPU: Intel Celeron Processor J4125
RAM: up to 16GB DDR4
Storage: 1 x mSata SSD
AES-NI: Yes
PORTS:
1x Console RJ45
2x USB
6x LAN RJ45
1x VGA
Buy on Amazon

1. Protectli Vault FW4B – For Home Use

The Protectli Vault FW4B is an excellent choice that caters to your firewall needs at home. This is because you get three network interface ports to connect to this router. So, you have wired access to your workstation, one to connect to a Wi-Fi access point, and a spare.

Protectli offers the FW4B in a barebone or kitted-up option. With the FW4B, you get an Intel Celeron Quad-Core J3160 as the standard processor in all variants. This model comes with 4GB DDR3 RAM and 32GB mSATA SSD storage. Further, the processor also supports Intel’s Advanced Encryption Standard instruction set, AES-NI, for encryption programs. Thus, once you have installed the OS, you have enough system resources to install pfSense or any other network software.

The router features no active heat dispensation methods. To manage the heat, the FW4B incorporates a heat sink with the outer body. Further, the device is pretty compact, measuring 115x107x39mm.

Installing and configuring pfSense is challenging. Even experts can face a tough time with the process. However, there is no reason for you to feel discouraged. Protectli recognizes this problem and offers on-call support for its US-based customers. Also, Protectli provides a 30-day money-back guarantee if you feel overwhelmed with the installation.

Our Take

The Protectli Vault FW4B is an excellent device that is perfect for setting up a firewall at home. It is on the expensive side of the price spectrum, so not everyone would consider it. But the price brings a set of value-added services, like customer support and a money-back guarantee.

PROS
  • The four network interface ports are ideal for home setups.
  • The fan-less design helps reduce noise.
  • AES-NI offers advanced levels of security.
  • The barebone model allows you to customize the configurations.
  • US-based customer support for troubleshooting.
  • 30-days money-back guarantee
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Installation can be a challenging
  • Only one-year warranty

2. Protectli Vault 6 Port – pfSense Router for SOHO Setup

This router from Protectli is built to handle a demanding environment. It comes with a 6-network interface port that makes it ideal for a Small Office/Home Office setup. And, to handle the extra number of terminals Protectli offers an excellent set of system configurations.

Like the 4-port version, the 6-port Protectli Vault offers an option of customizability. The barebone version will save you a considerable amount of money, even after you buy the RAM and storage. Or, you can choose a configuration with up to 64GB DDR3 RAM and up to 960GB SSD storage.

The 6-port version comes with an Intel Quad-Core i5-8250U processor (4-core, 8-thread, 6MB Cache, and up to 3.6GHz). One might think that this is a powerful PC on its own. Undoubtedly it is. But you will need a powerful device designed to cater to the high demands of a multi-terminal setup. Hence, the 6-port Protectli Vault makes perfect sense.

Alternately, you can use any mini-PC to install pfSense, just ensure it has at least two network interface cards. And you would need to connect a switch if you need multiple terminals to connect to the network.

The design of the 6-port Protectli Vault is similar to that of the 4-port version. The only difference is the added network and USB port. Thus, it does everything that the 4-port version does only on a larger scale.

Our Take

The 6-port Protectli Vault is ideal for a small office. It offers an Intel i5 processor and allows you to customize the RAM and storage selections to ramp up performance. Thus, you get enough firepower to tackle multi-user, multi-terminal environments.

PROS
  • The fan-less design helps reduce noise.
  • AES-NI offers advanced levels of security.
  • The barebone model allows you to customize the configurations.
  • US-based customer support for troubleshooting.
  • 30-days money-back guarantee
  • The Intel Core i5 processor gives you tremendous processing power.
CONS
  • Price
  • Complicated setup
  • No 2.5G/10G Ethernet option to support high-speed networks.

3. Netgate 1100 – Budget Router with pfSense

The Netgate 1100 holds two advantages over its rivals. First, pfSense comes pre-installed with the Netgate 1100. Thus, making the implementation that much easier. Secondly, the Netgate and the pfSense project partnership is deeply entwined. So, the Netgate devices offer a slight advantage in terms of support and overall compatibility.

Netgate offers several hardware solutions that cover the entire spectrum of applications ranging from home to enterprise-level solutions. The Netgate 1100 is a budget device that offers pfSense in all its glory.

It comes with an ARM Cortex A53 1.2GHz dual-core processor. You also get 1GB DDR4 RAM and 8GB of eMMC storage. These may seem underpowered, but remember, the purpose of this device is to deliver pfSense, which it does. Unlike the Protectli Vault, the Netgate 1100 does not offer the benefit of customization.

For cloud-based solutions, you can migrate to the pfSense Plus software that gives added benefits. However, this comes with a usage-based pricing model.

The design of the NG 1100 is reasonably compact. It offers a limited number of ports which do not include an HDMI port. So, it can be challenging to interface with the device’s OS. It has a compact form factor that does not occupy much space even if kept near your desktop. Also, the fan-less design means you get a quiet device that does the job.

The Netgate 1100 can deliver 880Mbps of IPERF 3 router traffic and 656Mbps of IPERF 3 firewall traffic. This is not quite the gigabit range, but still fast enough for most home-based usage.

Our Take

The Netgate 1100 is an excellent budget option that gives you the full functionality of pfSense. Of course, a low budget also means you do not get a full gigabit setup. But the Netgate 1100 is ideal for home users who need the security of pfSense at a pocket-friendly price.

PROS
  • Price
  • pfSense comes pre-installed; hence, the network setup becomes easy.
  • The fan-less design helps reduce noise.
  • AES-NI offers advanced levels of security.
CONS
  • It does not support Gigabit speeds.
  • There are no HDMI ports; hence, configuring the device OS can be challenging.
  • Netgate does not offer a barebone version for customization.

4. Qotom Q330G4 – Most Versatile pfSense Router

The Qotom Q330G4 offers over 20 variants in system configurations. It also provides one of the highest number of I/O ports to expand your setup. Thus, you can set up the Q220G4 as pretty much any network device to suit your need.

You get a fourth-generation Intel Core i3-4005U processor with a 3MB Cache and 1.7GHz speed. There is the option of a barebone device for you to customize. Or, you can select from the 20 variants starting with 2GB DDR3 RAM and going up to 8GB DDR3 RAM. As for storage, the range starts at 16GB and goes up to 64GB. The Q330G4 offers a wide range of devices that cover price and use case spectrums. Hence, you have plenty of choices to select the perfect device.

The device features a fan-less design. The entire outer shell is designed to be a heat sink to manage the heat dispensation. The design also incorporates a large number of I/O ports for easy expansion. These include internal connectors for mSATA SSD storage, a mini-PCIe slot for a Wi-Fi module, and SATA ports. These provide for added scalability as and when you need it.

The Q330G4 can be set up as a number of a network device. The most common usage may include setting it up as a firewall or router. However, you can also use it as a DHCP or DNS server or a VPN. And as far as performance is concerned, the device offers gigabit throughput to facilitate high-speed network traffic.

Our Take

The Q330G4 offers a variant to suit each need, from essential to high-performance configurations. Further, the number of I/O ports that come with each device makes it easy to expand your setup. And with multiple variants, it also offers the benefit of a wide price range to suit any pocket size.

PROS
  • The barebone model allows you to customize the configurations.
  • Multiple pre-configured variants offer tremendous flexibility of choice.
  • Multiple internal and external ports make it easy to expand your setup.
  • You can use it as any network device to suit your requirement
  • A wide price range to suit any budget.
CONS
  • Installation can be challenging as you have to do everything from scratch
  • Only one-year warranty
  • No pre-configured high-specification models are available

5. HUNSN RS34g – Router with 2.5GbE Ports

This router from Hunsn supports 2.5GbE, whereas its rivals offer only 1GbE. This means you can set up this device on a faster network to avail of its benefits. The RS34g comes with four 2.5GbE ports, so you have plenty of ports to work with and expand your network.

Hunsn offers the RS34g with an Intel Celeron J4125 Processor (4M Cache, up to 2.70 GHz). So, you will not have a problem running a pfSense instance. This model comes with 4GB DDR4 RAM and 32GB SSD storage. However, this is one of eleven pre-configured specifications Hunsn offer. You also have the option of selecting the barebone version when you would like to build your device.

It features the typical fan-less design and relies on the heat sink that is part of the outer shell. It is compact, not much bigger than a stack of CDs, and will not occupy much space on your desktop. Further, the aluminum body makes it durable and lightweight. Of course, you do not need to carry this device everywhere you go. But considering it does not come with a VESA mount, placing it on your desktop could result in accidental falls.

Our Take

The Hunsn RS34g is ideal for high-speed networks that support 2.5GbE speeds. You also get the flexibility to choose between a pre-configured device or its barebone version. And with its reasonable pricing, the RS34g is ideal for small offices that run high-speed networks that connect their terminals.

PROS
  • You get the flexibility of choice with plenty of pre-configured devices to choose from.
  • The barebone model allows you to customize the configurations.
  • The fan-less design helps reduce noise.
  • AES-NI offers advanced levels of security.
  • Compatible with 2.5GbE networks.
CONS
  • Installation can be challenging as you have to do everything from scratch.
  • Flashing the BIOS will render the device unusable.

6. MOGINSOK MGSRCJ4 – Router with pfSense pre-installed

The Moginsok MGSRCJ4 comes with pfSense pre-installed. Hence, a considerable part of the installation process is already taken care of upfront. Further, it supports all open-source virtualization and firewall technologies to provide you with one device that offers many solutions.

The device comes with an Intel Quad-core Celeron J4125 processor (8-Thread, 4MB Cache, and up to 2.7GHz speed). You also get 4GB DDR4 RAM and 32GB SSD storage. Or, you can choose from seven other variants that offer as much as 16GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB storage. Alternately, you can customize the RAM and storage capacities when your need demands higher specifications.

The device from Moginsok follows the typical fan-less design. This means that the body incorporates heat sinks to manage heat dissipation. The aluminum body further helps dissipate the heat and ensures you do not need active cooling solutions.

Like the device from Hunsn, the Moginsok also offers four 2.5GbE ports for high-speed networking. The I/O ports of the Moginsok also follow a similar configuration to the Hunsn. These include HDMI, VGA, and USB 3.0 ports. Thus, making it operationally similar to the RS34G from Hunsn.

Our Take

The devices from Moginsok and Hunsn are pretty similar, and hence they have similar use cases. They are ideal for small offices that use high-speed networks. Overall, it offers a good set of specifications so that you can install and use pfSense without any problem.

PROS
  • Compatible with 2.5GbE networks.
  • The barebone model allows you to customize the configurations.
  • AES-NI offers advanced levels of security.
  • Pre-installed pfSense makes it easier to install
CONS
  • Only one-year warranty.
  • No support for Coreboot or BIOS flashing
  • Customer support only via email

7. VENOEN Firewall Network Security Server – Router with a high number of ports

This device from Venoen offers plenty of I/O ports that allow you to expand your networking setup easily. There are six LAN ports on the rear panel in addition to the WAN port (on the front panel). So, you do not feel the need for a Switch; however, the six ports make it easier to install one.

Venoen offers this device with the Intel Celeron 3865U processor (2-Core 8-Thread, and up to 1.8GHz speed). The configured devices come with pfSense pre-installed. And there are six pre-configured variants for you to choose from. You also get the option of a barebone version to customize your device.

This model comes with 16GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB SSD storage. Thanks to only one DIMM slot, it is the maximum RAM you can get. Be informed, that Venoen recommends using Samsung and Crucial RAM modules with the device.

The device comes geared for wireless communications. It has an onboard 4G SIM slot and comes with external Wi-Fi antennas. However, you will have to install the Wi-Fi module using the PCIe slot.

Venoen offers an excellent set of ports on the face of it. The six network ports and four USB3.0 ports are among the highest you can get on similar devices. However, Venoen does not offer 2.5GbE ports for connectivity with a high-speed network.

Our Take

The device from Venoen is an excellent choice when you need a device with plenty of expansion ports. The device comes with six network ports and four USB3.0 ports to help expand your setup easily. Additionally, the onboard 4G slot gives you the benefit of WWAN networks for added connectivity.

PROS
  • Plenty of I/O ports make expansion easy.
  • The barebone model allows you to customize the configurations.
  • AES-NI offers advanced levels of security.
  • Pre-installed pfSense makes it easier to install
  • Onboard 4G SIM slot to connect to WWAN
CONS
  • No 2.5G/10G Ethernet option to support high-speed networks.
  • Device drivers are not freely available for download; you need to contact customer care.

8. HUNSN RS03 – Router for Remote/Rack setup

The Hunsn RS03 provides you with all the essential functionalities of a pfSense router. The body incorporates a mounting bracket for server rack installation. So, you can install the device in the server room and access it remotely with great ease. Thus, making it ideal for typical office network infrastructure.

It comes with an Intel Celeron J4125 Processor (4M Cache, up to 2.70 GHz). This is a barebone version, so you will have to install a RAM and storage module. The device supports up to 16GB DDR4 RAM, and you can use the mSATA slot to connect an SSD storage. Alternately, you can choose from one of seven pre-configured devices that offer up to 8GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB storage.

Hunsn recognizes that server room installations are critical. For this, they provide active heat dissipation by using in-built fans to keep the device from overheating. This also means that it is not the most silent routing solution. Hence, perforce you will have to install it at a location like a server room to avoid causing a disturbance.

Our Take

The Hunsn RS03 is an ideal device for offices with centralized server rooms. The device’s form factor is perfect for installation on a rack. Also, the use of multiple fans can make the device operation noisy. So, it is not ideal for quiet working environments.

PROS
  • The barebone version makes it easy to customize the configurations.
  • Multiple specification variants give you the flexibility of choice.
  • The form factor makes it ideal for server rack/room setups
  • AES-NI offers advanced levels of security.
CONS
  • No 2.5G/10G Ethernet option to support high-speed networks.
  • Not suitable for quiet environments like offices.

Best pfSense Router – Our Buying Guide

Here are some crucial considerations to keep in mind when buying a pfSense Router.

Number and Type of network ports

The number of network ports a router offers directly affects the number of devices you can connect to it. Of course, for larger setups like offices, you have the option us connect a Network Switch. For this, you can do it with just one or two ports.

But home office setups can easily do with four to six ports at their disposal to avoid using a Switch.

As far as the type is concerned, some routers offer 2.5GbE ports that allow compatibility with high-speed networks. Therefore, you need to be mindful of the type of port if you want to harness higher speed on your network.

Video Ports

The pfSense routers are mini-PCs in their own right. Very often, they run an OS. And to interact with the OS, you need a video port to connect to a display. Using an OS is not mandatory, but you will need to use virtualization tools to customize your setup.

All the routers on our list, except the Netgate 1100, offer either an HDMI or VGA port or both.

System Specifications

For using a comprehensive network tool like pfSense, your device needs to have the recommended system specification. Hence, it is essential to provide for the minimum requirement that pfSense needs. But you are better off providing the recommended set of specifications to ensure you face no issues while using pfSense.

The recommended specifications of pfSense are:

  • CPU with 1GHz speed
  • 1GB RAM
  • 1GB storage space

These specifications are easy to find, and all the devices on our list offer the same.

Best pfSense Router – Frequently Asked Questions

How is pfSense used?

By definition, pfSense is firewall software. You can install this software on any computer that has two or more network interface cards. By doing this, you use one interface card to receive signals from your incoming line (typically from your ISP). Next, the pfSense firewall software interprets the signal and isolates the malicious traffic. Once done, the second interface acts as an outgoing line for legitimate data signals.

Does pfSense require an Operating System to run on?

The pfSense firewall software is based on FreeBSD. So, it is a self-contained system that does not require conventional operating systems like Windows or Linux.

Can I use pfSense for free?

You can use the pfSense CE version by downloading it from the pfSense website. However, the cloud version of pfSense, commonly known as pfSense Plus, comes with charges for the cloud network.

Can I use pfSense Plus on any device?

The pfSense Plus software is a version of pfSense that Netgate has developed. It is different from the open-source pfSense CE version as it builds upon the limitations of pfSense CE.

Netgate allows you to use the pfSense Plus software for free on any Netgate device. However, these services are chargeable when used via AWS and Azure CSP.

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