Another look at the Partaker B5

Having previously tried out pfSense 2.2.6 on the Inctel Partaker B5 with rather poor results, I thought I’d see if there’s any improvement when using pfSense 2.3 nightly (20160307-0922).

The first thing you’ll notice when upgrading to pfSense 2.3 is the new, beautiful GUI.

fw.int.albatorsk.com-Status-Dashboard

Apart from that, other changes include the underlying OS being updated from FreeBSD 10.1 to 10.3-PRERELEASE, with all that that entails.

Realtek gigabit network adapters has historically had some problems under FreeBSD, so I’m going to run a few benchmarks and see what, if anything, has changed.

Starting with iperf, the first test I ran was using the Partaker B5 running pfSense as the client, and my home server with a NetXen NX3031 NIC as the server.

[2.3-BETA][root@fw]/usr/local/bin: ./iperf -i 1 -n 1024M -c server
------------------------------------------------------------
Client connecting to server, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 65.0 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  3] local 10.11.12.250 port 54867 connected with 10.11.12.1 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  3]  0.0- 1.0 sec  69.6 MBytes   584 Mbits/sec
[  3]  1.0- 2.0 sec  68.0 MBytes   570 Mbits/sec
[  3]  2.0- 3.0 sec  67.9 MBytes   569 Mbits/sec
[  3]  3.0- 4.0 sec  68.0 MBytes   570 Mbits/sec
[  3]  4.0- 5.0 sec  67.9 MBytes   569 Mbits/sec
[  3]  5.0- 6.0 sec  67.9 MBytes   569 Mbits/sec
[  3]  6.0- 7.0 sec  67.9 MBytes   569 Mbits/sec
[  3]  7.0- 8.0 sec  67.6 MBytes   567 Mbits/sec
[  3]  8.0- 9.0 sec  67.9 MBytes   569 Mbits/sec
[  3]  9.0-10.0 sec  68.1 MBytes   571 Mbits/sec
[  3] 10.0-11.0 sec  67.6 MBytes   567 Mbits/sec
[  3] 11.0-12.0 sec  68.0 MBytes   570 Mbits/sec
[  3] 12.0-13.0 sec  67.8 MBytes   568 Mbits/sec
[  3] 13.0-14.0 sec  67.9 MBytes   569 Mbits/sec
[  3] 14.0-15.0 sec  67.9 MBytes   569 Mbits/sec
[  3]  0.0-15.1 sec  1.00 GBytes   570 Mbits/sec

570 Mbps is ok, but nothing to write home about. The same hardware gets about 940 Mbps running Linux. Although a definite improvement from pfSense 2.2, it’s still pretty underwhelming.

However, what’s really interesting is the throughput. So, I hooked up one computer directly to the LAN port, and one directly to the WAN port. I started by using the computer on the LAN port as the server, with the one on the WAN port as the client.

$ iperf -i 1 -n 1024M -c 10.11.12.2 
------------------------------------------------------------
Client connecting to 10.11.12.2, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 85.0 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  3] local 10.11.100.2 port 46278 connected with 10.11.12.2 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  3]  0.0- 1.0 sec   106 MBytes   890 Mbits/sec
[  3]  1.0- 2.0 sec   104 MBytes   872 Mbits/sec
[  3]  2.0- 3.0 sec   104 MBytes   871 Mbits/sec
[  3]  3.0- 4.0 sec   102 MBytes   860 Mbits/sec
[  3]  4.0- 5.0 sec   104 MBytes   872 Mbits/sec
[  3]  5.0- 6.0 sec   104 MBytes   872 Mbits/sec
[  3]  6.0- 7.0 sec   102 MBytes   860 Mbits/sec
[  3]  7.0- 8.0 sec   104 MBytes   872 Mbits/sec
[  3]  8.0- 9.0 sec   103 MBytes   863 Mbits/sec
[  3]  0.0- 9.9 sec  1.00 GBytes   870 Mbits/sec

870 Mbps; now we’re talking. Ok, and now, turning the computer on the WAN port into the server, with the one on the LAN port as the client.

$ iperf -n 1024M -i 1 -c 10.11.100.2
------------------------------------------------------------
Client connecting to 10.11.100.2, TCP port 5001
TCP window size: 85.0 KByte (default)
------------------------------------------------------------
[  3] local 10.11.12.2 port 44610 connected with 10.11.100.2 port 5001
[ ID] Interval       Transfer     Bandwidth
[  3]  0.0- 1.0 sec   110 MBytes   924 Mbits/sec
[  3]  1.0- 2.0 sec   106 MBytes   888 Mbits/sec
[  3]  2.0- 3.0 sec   108 MBytes   902 Mbits/sec
[  3]  3.0- 4.0 sec   106 MBytes   891 Mbits/sec
[  3]  4.0- 5.0 sec   106 MBytes   893 Mbits/sec
[  3]  5.0- 6.0 sec   106 MBytes   890 Mbits/sec
[  3]  6.0- 7.0 sec   106 MBytes   892 Mbits/sec
[  3]  7.0- 8.0 sec   108 MBytes   903 Mbits/sec
[  3]  8.0- 9.0 sec   106 MBytes   890 Mbits/sec
[  3]  0.0- 9.6 sec  1.00 GBytes   897 Mbits/sec

897 Mbps. All else aside, there’s been a massive improvement when using Realtek network adapters (or I did something catastrophically wrong when trying out pfSense 2.2).

If you don’t absolutely need that last, “missing” 100 Mbps, and don’t mind running a nightly snapshot of pfSense, the Partaker B5 can definitely hold its own against much more expensive hardware.