Need advice on hardware for home lab.

Unanswered Question
Jul 2nd, 2007

I'm currently studying to take the CCNA exams and plan on studying and taking exams for the CCNP and CCIE (if I can make it that far). I need some help on what to buy to setup a lab at home. I don't want to spend a crap-load of money, but I don't want to have the crappiest lab either. I just want something I can learn on. Please give me your suggestions!

- Randy, MCSE

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jrensink78 Tue, 07/24/2007 - 13:08

If you want to start building your home lab with the CCNP in mind, be sure you are getting equipment that will run the IOS version used in the exams (currently 12.4T I believe). So you'll probably want to go for the 3460 routers (which are modular) and 2950 switches to start off with for your CCNA. You'll add more routers and probably some 3550 switches when it comes to the CCNP.

Unfortunately with the relatively recent update to the IOS used in exams, home labs became more expensive than they used to be. But you can always sell them when you are done, and the ROI is definitely worth it as you get the higher level certs.

narbik Sat, 08/11/2007 - 19:51

I would highly recommend 3640 routers with 128 Mem/32 flash, these used to be around few thousand dollars, but nowadays you can purchase them for 200 dollars, if you are going for CCIE, I would get 9 of these guys and two 3550 EMIs, this setup should be pretty good to take you all the way, the reason I am NOT recommending 3560s which are used in the lab, is because they are pretty expensive right now and its like everything else they get cheaper every year.

Good luck, excellent choice.

Narbik Kocharians

CCSI, CCIE #12410 (R&S, Security and SP)

[email protected]

ellis_b Mon, 08/13/2007 - 09:15


Get a couple of Cisco 2610XM routers and a 2950 switch. That should give you a great starting point. Don't forget the WIC-1ts and DB60 back to back cables. I would also like to suggest a Cisco 2511 (for a terminal server) and a Cisco 2522 (for a frame-relay switch). That should be a great start for you.


Brad Ellis

CCIE#5796 (R&S / Security)

CCSI# 30482

ellis_b Mon, 08/13/2007 - 18:14

it's not useless at all. with an enhanced image, you can do:




and more!

it's a great little (and cheap switch) to learn with. If you can afford a 3550 or 3560, go for it, if not, than a 2950 will be great.


Brad Ellis

CCIE#5796 (R&S / Security)

CCSI# 30482

narbik Mon, 08/13/2007 - 18:47

The problem with the 2950 switches is that they are still a layer 2 switch. In the CCIE lab there are NO layer 2 switches, as a matter of a fact 2950s were never in the lab (If i am not wrong). 3550 EMIs are going for 750 - 900 dollars on the ebay, whereas, the 2950s are going for 300 - 480 dollars but they can not do any of the QOS or routing stuff (RIP, EIGRP, OSPF, BGP) just to mention few, that far out weights the 802 stuff, that is being tested today.

If i was going to go for CCNA all the way to CCIE, i would purchase the 3550 EMIs, because once you purchase the 2950s, after the CCNA cert you have to sell it and then purchase the 3550/3560s.

If you purchase the right equipment now, then you don't need to rent racks for 50 - 80 dollars a day, you can use your own equipment and sell it once you have your CCIE. Renting racks is one of the biggest expense in learning, testing and configuring your pod of routers on a day to day basis, if you spend 15 hours a week for 12 months, thats 14400 dollars, but if you spend around 8 - 9K you can get 9 3640s, 2 3550s and 2 3560, and then sell the rack at the end of your journey.

I have done this three times and i am about to do it again for the forth time.

just my 2 cents

Narbik Kocharians

CCSI, CCIE #12410 (R&S, Security, SP)

[email protected]

RamyElSisy Mon, 08/13/2007 - 21:07

Sorry, I do not agree

I believe that you do not need to invest in purchasing any equipment for CCNA, CCNP, CCIP, and CCIE R/S preparation as you can use dynamips.

I believe now it can emulates 2691, 3620, 3640, 3660, 3725, 3745, and 7206 hardware platforms, and runs standard IOS images.

Also there is another toll can emulate PIX 7.2.2 and another way to emulate IPS5.x for security tracks.

All what you need is powerful P4 with 1GB RAM machine.


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