I recently updated by article on the best pfSense box for home firewalls. Many people have said that those boxes do not meet their needs for small to medium sized businesses.  While I would argue a small business would be more than fine on one of these smaller boxes, I do understand that there is a need for more powerful boxes to handle many VPN endpoints, reverse proxies, and other needs that some businesses will need.  So in this article we’ll cover best pfsense hardware for business! 

What is the Best pfSense Hardware for Business?

If you’re looking for our article home pfSense firewalls, go here.  In this article we’re going to cover pfSense business class hardware, designed to support enterprise use.

pfSense business class hardware differs from home hardware in that it will have faster processors, additional storage options (including RAID), ECC memory support, additional Ethernet ports (including 10Gb), and much more robust power supplies than found on consumer firewall appliances.


#1 – The SuperMicro E300-8D Firewall Appliance

This box is quite amazing for the price, making it easily rank #1 on our list. The SuperMicro E300-8D has everything where it counts. Packing an enterprise class motherboard and Intel XEON CPU, it’s designed for touch work loads, while also fitting a small 1U form factor.   It includes a total of six 1GB Ethernet ports, while also rocking the ability to run 10GB Ethernet through SFP+!

About the only real downside of this box is that it uses an external power brick rather than a traditional server power supply.  This is becoming common in firewall and router appliances across the industry.  While I would prefer an integrated server supply, these external power supplies do have one major benefit, they’re silent and reduce overall noise and heat output of the firewall.

The SuperServer E300-8D includes has the following specifications:

  • 2Ghz Intel Xeon processor D-1518, Single socket FCBGA 1667
  • Supports up to 128GB ECC RDIMM DDR4 2133MHz or 64GB ECC/non-ECC UDIMM in four sockets
  • 1x PCI-E 3.0 x8 AOC slot (LP)
  • Mini PCI-E (mSATA support)
  • M.2 PCI-E 3.0 x4 (SATA support)
  • M Key 2242/2280/22110
  • Four SATA3 (6Gbps) ports via SoC
  • 2x 10G SFP+
  • 6x GbE LAN
  • Dedicated LAN for IPMI 2.0
  • Two USB 3.0 ports (rear), five USB 2.0 ports (four via headers, one Type A)
  • Two SuperDOM, one COM, TPM 2.0 header, GPIO and SMbus headers
  • 1x VGA 
  • Available rackmount kit

This firewall appliance has the right mix of price/performance/specs to make it to the #1 rank on our list. 

#2 – The SuperServer 5018A-FTN4

Next up on our picks for the best pfSense hardware for business users is the SuperServer 5018A-FTN4.  This box ranks #2 on our list because its got just enough power and features to be used in most business class environments who are on a budget.  If you’re looking to save some money this is the one to go with.  This cost reduction comes by stepping down from a XEON to an ATOM processor.  For many business use cases, this is more than satisfactory.

You’ll also save some change here as this box does not require an additional rack kit to be installed in a standard 19″ rack. That’s a big bonus for the budget minded.

The 5018A-FTN has the following specifications:

  • Intel® Atom processor C2758, SoC, FCBGA 1283, 20W 8-Core
  • 5. Up to 64GB DDR3 1600MHz ECC SO-DIMM in 4 DIMM slots
  • 1x PCI-E 2.0 x8 slot
  • Quad GbE ports
  • Dedicated IPMI LAN
  • 2x 3.5″ Fixed SATA3 HDD bays or 4x 2.5″ SATA2 HDD optional
  • 200W Low-noise power supply w/ PFC
  • Support Intel® QuickAssist Acceleration Technology
  • 2x SATA3 (6Gbps), 4x SATA2 (3Gbps) ports
  • 4x USB 3.0 ports (2 rear, 1 Type A, 1 via header), 2x USB 2.0 ports (2 rear)
  • 1x VGA

This affordable powerhouse should keep most pfSense small business users in check with growth in mind, without breaking the bank.

#3 The SuperServer 5018D-FN8T 10 Gigabit Beast

At #3 on our picks for the best pfSense hardware for business comes the SuperServer 5018D-FN8T. For those looking for the best performance and all the right specs, this is the one.

This appliance is 19″ rack-mountable right out of the box with kit required. It has an integrated 200 watt auto-switching power supply.  It features workhorse 2.2Ghz Intel XEON D-1518 CPU to handle even the most demanding workloads, VPN connections, and squid caching servers.

This is the most expensive box of our primary picks and sacrifices price for the best performance and features.

It’s specs include:

  • Intel Xeon D-1518 2.2 GHz
  • Up to 128GB ECC RDIMM or 64GB ECC / non-ECC
  • 1 x PCI-E 3.0 x8 slot
  • M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4
  • 1 x 3.5″ drive bay or up to 4 x 2.5″ drive bays
  • 4x SATA 6Gbs
  • M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4
  • M Key 2242/2280/22110
  • Mini-PCIe with mSATA support
  • Dual 10G SFP+ from D-1500 SoC
  • Quad 1 GbE with Intel I350-AM4
  • Dual 1 GbE with Intel I210
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • 1x RJ45 Dedicated IPMI LAN port
  • 1x VGA

Runner Up – The Netgate XG-1541

There are always purists in the room.  Those who feel like running pfSense requires Netgate hardware.  For those who are looking for this, we can only recommend one box.  The Netgate XG-1541.  It’s got most of the features you’ll be looking for in enterprise class firewall power.  However, it come in at more than twice the price of our top picks.  Of course, to be fair this box will include support services from Netgate.  So keep that in mind when cost comparing these boxes.

It’s specs include:

  • Intel Xeon D-1541, 2.1 GHz FCBGA 1667
  • 32GB DDR4 RDIM
  • 1x PCI-E 3.0 x 16 (in x4) AOC Slot
  • 6x SATA3 ports
  • 256GB Micron M.2 SSD
  • Dual LAN via SoC 10GBase-T
  • Virtual Machine Device Queues reduce I/O overhead
  • Supports 10GBASE-T, 100BASE-TX, and 1000BASE-T, RJ45 output
  • 1x Realtek RTL8201N PHY (dedicated IPMI)
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1x VGA

So that wraps up my pics for the best pfSense hardware for business users.  If you have any questions or need anymore help, just let us know in the comments and we will try to answer them for you!