pfSense on the Intel NUC continues to impress.
It turns out that in the past few months some of the newest Intel NUC’s got full pfSense support. I also discovered that booting pfSense off a USB drive works really well, meaning you can put those old USB drives to good use and not waste money on new storage.
So the old complicated process I had of bridging into a VM on Ubuntu is gone. It’s just straight to the metal now.
Either the Intel D54250WYK (4th gen Core i5) or the Intel D34010WYK (4th gen Core i3) are great options for a modern build. From the previous generation of NUC’s, the Intel DC3217IYE (3rd gen Core i3) is fully supported as well and has the nice benefit of supporting 1.5V DDR3 RAM, which the 4th gen models do not. That means you are far more likely to be able to scavenge all the parts needed to build a working system if you buy the DC3217IYE.
It’s inevitable that the 100 to 130 dollar NUC platforms will get full support at some point (such as the Intel DN2820FYKH). At those prices, I really can’t imagine recommending a consumer grade router over an inexpensive NUC-based pfSense build if you are even remotely techie.