Power supply efficiency - brick vs standard - inherent difference?

I’m building a new pfSense box with a primary goal of power efficiency as well a supporting gigabit VPN, and multiple VLANs with the router “on a stick” from the switch configuration ala nvugu so it will need decent compute and 3-4 Gb Lan Ports (Dual ISP) and possibly an SFP port for a 10G trunk to the switch.

The most efficient builds use seem to use mainboards with DC input for the “brick” style power supplies. Is this inherently more efficient than SFX power supplies that have a fan? Or is it just that the whole system is constrained by the brick power supply decision so the everything else e.g. SO-DIMMs etc is chosen for efficiency?

Is there a standard name for that round DC power connector on motherboards (as opposed to 20-pin ATX, etc. ) which I could use to narrow my ebay search. The guides here are great, but the linked or named mobos seem to disappear or go up by $100 within a few weeks. (You guys are market movers!)

It it realistic to try to run this build on a “brick” supply if it will include 4 port gigabit NICand possibly another 10G SFP or 10G-BaseT adapter?

If you find 10Gbe a requirement, then instead of a 4-Port Ethernet NIC, you should just use a SFP+ NIC to the SFP+ on a managed switch and branch out your VLANs there. Not much of a difference than what’s in the guide here.

You generally can find a recommended pfsense thin client board here reasonably priced on eBay within 3 weeks of starting to search.

We use the “brick” because that’s generally what most thin clients use. You can buy one that provides all the power you’d need, so that’s not a problem. If you want to use a 20-pin connector board, go for it. You’re just going to have to deal with more noise.

Good points. Thanks! I hadn’t considered doing WAN 1 and 2 in through VLANs on the switch - That could work. Then I just need one NIC.

I’ll keep looking for recommended thin-client boards from the build, inventory probably does come and go all the time.

Sorry, that’s not what I meant. You’ll want to find a Thin Client with 2 onboard Intel NICs to handle your WANs.