Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense Build and Configuration

I finally got around to putting together and installing my Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense box this weekend.

I chose the CI323 as it came in a bit under price of the SG-2200 while being a bit more powerful.

It came in a great looking box, which would also work well as storage afterwards.

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - Box

I also picked up a 60GB Kingston SSD and 8GB of Crucial memory as the default build didn’t come with either.

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - RAM and SSD

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - RAM

The machine itself was well designed, and had a good number of ports on the front and back.

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - Front

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - Back

Opening the bottom of the case was a breeze, as it just took 4 thumb screws and a gentle pull.

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - Open

The RAM slots were easily accessible, and I had no problem getting both sticks to snap in place.

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - RAM Installation

Installing the SSD was a little harder, as there was a mounting bracket in place to keep the drive from wiggling around/hitting the bottom of the case. Once I got everything properly situated, it just took 4 screws and it was good to go.

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - SSD Installation

Size wise, this thing is tiny; here is a comparison of it to my 500r case.

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - Case 1

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - Case 2

Thankfully, when I finally booted it up, the BIOS was up-to-date and all the new hardware was properly detected.

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - BIOS

The pfSense installation was actually the hardest part of this process, but that was mostly my fault. Initially I was having trouble burning the bootable USB drive, but that just had to do with the application I was trying to use. My second issue was that I was attempting to install the Intel edition on the box. While the other option is AMD64, this is actually the option for both AMD and Intel 64-bit processors. Once I got that sorted out, everything went much smoother.

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - pfSense Install

The installation was pain-free and straight forward, and after a few minutes the pfSense Web Configurator wizard appeared.

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - Web Configurator

Once that was complete, my new router was up and running on the network!

Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense - pfSense Running

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doyler

Ray Doyle is an avid pentester/security enthusiast/beer connoisseur who has worked in IT for almost 16 years now. From building machines and the software on them, to breaking into them and tearing it all down; he’s done it all. To show for it, he has obtained an OSCP, eCPPT, eWPT, eWPTX, eMAPT, Security+, ICAgile CP, ITIL v3 Foundation, and even a sabermetrics certification!


He currently serves as a Senior Penetration Testing Consultant for SecureWorks. His previous position was a Senior Penetration Tester for a major financial institution.


When he’s not figuring out what cert to get next (OSCE?!) or side project to work on, he enjoys playing video games, traveling, and watching sports.


7 Comments

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7 Responses to Zotac ZBOX CI323 pfSense Build and Configuration

  1. Arman

    Excellent, exactly what I was looking for..

    Any issues later or limitations?

    • None at all, it is still working great.

      I don’t have anything TOO intensive running on it yet, but I plan on adding Snort to it eventually, as well as some logging and monitoring.

      I’ve had no issues with it, and only rebooted it once I believe?

      • Arman

        Nice! I have an old dual-core small form factor HP PC running CentOS and using it as a router. Everything is manual including 2 network cards, DHCP Server, routing, OpebVPN and SSH plus a few other tools but it does not have any monitoring tools like Pfsense, plus its not power efficient, so now thinking about getting one of these boxes to replace that. The good thing is its rock solid, haven’t rebooted it in 9 months now. The only thing I am concerned about is the performance. I also would like to play with Snort and Squid.. Keep me posted on how it goes.

        Thanks,

        Arman

  2. hey-

    I’ve decided to go this route, being fairly familiar with pfSense myself. Received the little box yesterday- same model as the one listed here. Ran into installation issues. I’ve tried both a PC (win 7) and my mac (whatever the latest update provided) and can’t seem to get the thing to install from USB or the SD slots.

    The bios and/or boot selection recognizes when I have the devices, and when I select the device that I want to boot from- I consistently get a “drive not found” type error.

    Mind you- I’m not a n00b to this kind of thing, and I’ve tried all the tricks in the book that I know… but maybe I’m overlooking something?

    Got any hints as to what you did to get it to load the OS?

    Did you leave the Bios settings alone for the most part, or did you change, perhaps, the boot option from “WIN10 UEFI” to “Legacy” mode?

    Any input would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Myles,

      Yea, glad to try and help you get it sorted out.

      I did change the boot options to “Legacy” mode, as there was no UEFI image that would work on the box. Try that and let me know if it fixes it!

      • That was totally it.

        Much thanks for getting back to me on this.

        Have you tried the Wifi side of the device yet? I haven’t found anything that would suggest that it would work without changing cards. No big deal if you haven’t looked at it yet… but, well… you know. 😉

        • Great, glad that fixed it, and glad to help!

          I haven’t actually. I’m just using the ethernet ports as incoming and outgoing, and have a Meraki as my home AP.

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