Home lab for CCNA

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Nov 11th, 2008
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I'm sure this gets asked all the time, But I'm having real trouble trying to find out exactly what I need for a home lab. I've read you need 2 routers. Can they both be the same? I know people recommend 2500's / 2600's. but what exact one's are good? how many wic cards etc? I'd Really appreciate any advice at all as I'm only starting with cisco and know absolutely nothing....


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Overall Rating: 4.3 (4 ratings)
CriscoSystems Tue, 11/11/2008 - 16:07
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Two or three 2500's with Ethernet ports, plus two Catalyst 2950 switches are the norm.

With two switches you can do VLAN's, 802.1q trunking and VTP configs, which you need to be VERY comfortable with in order to pass the CCNA exam; and that exam uses the command syntax that you'll find on 2950's but not on older Catalyst switches like 1900's.

As far as routers, if you have the means I really recommend scoring 2600's instead of 2500's. The Ethernet ports on some (not all) 2600's are capable of doing dot1q encapsulation for router-on-a-stick configurations and routed VLAN trunking. That capability is not found anywhere in the 2500 series.

Furthermore, if you're going to go further with Cisco certs, like CCNP for instance after you get your CCNA, you'll need to get hands on experience with IS-IS and IPv6, which the 2600's are much better suited for.

lffrwatson Tue, 11/11/2008 - 19:28
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Get a hold of some 1700 or 2600 routers. They do not have to be the same model. Also some 2950's are decent switches to do vlan's and routed vlans etc. The skys the limit. Buy what you can afford. Check out ebay you can always find decent deals on there.

davidsullvan3 Wed, 11/12/2008 - 11:51
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Thanks for the advice. Any idea if the 2621 would be ok for what I need? Do I need a wic card?


CriscoSystems Wed, 11/12/2008 - 12:02
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That's the one great advantage of the 2500's over the 2600's - serial ports are standard equipment!

The 2621 has two FastEthernet ports, so a WIC card isn't ENTIIIIIRELY necessary; that is, as long as you've got a Catalyst switch so you can place each FE port on different VLAN's. If you do get a WIC card it's wise to get one with DB60 connectors - Cisco's back-to-back cables, built for lab environments, use those connectors.

Let us know which way you go, and please remember to rate helpful posts (on this thread and elsewhere....).

khadiman.othman Thu, 11/13/2008 - 01:57
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hi... would a 2650 router do? do i need a WIC with that and and a serial cable?

robvassar Sat, 11/15/2008 - 05:36
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I'm in the process of doing the same thing. I took some CCNA classes at a community college back in 2002. Since I had almost a decade of professional work under my belt at that point, I found them difficult to sit through, despite their value. I needed to learn CIsco gear, not basic TCP/IP networking.

The labs back then mostly used 1600's, which seem kind of out of date these days. I've been picking up bits pieces via eBay. So far I've picked up a 1720 and a 1721, a pair of WIC-1T's, a 2514, and some DCE/DTE cables. I'm currently looking for a 2900 series switch. Total budget to date is less than $150, with the most expensive item being the 1721.

The 1700's seem to be the sweet spot in terms of capability vs. cost, as they are now EOL and are flooding the market in droves. As others have pointed out, the 2500's have serial ports built in, but they are relatively old and most don't have the memory to run the enterprise feature sets. I grabbed the 2514 because it was particularly cheap, local pickup to me, and had a 12.1 image.

If you do go with a 1700, and think you'll want a second ethernet port at some point, try and find one that includes it in the sale. WIC-1ENET cards are difficult to get. They actually demand a higher price than the routers themselves, and it appears the bigger resellers have figured out that network/voip/ipv6 geeks need them to use a 1700 with a DSL or Cable modem and are pricing accordingly.


asad.rizvi Wed, 01/14/2009 - 00:09
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For Router,

I would recommend 851w.

It has the latest IOS along with Wireless.

You can also test SDM on it and it can be used as your primarily gateway for your internet connection.

Justin Brenton Sun, 02/15/2009 - 01:34
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Have you thought of using emulation? www.gns3.net is a great IOS emulator that you can use to setup a lab on a pc.

Alot of CCNP and CCIE's are using this for preparation. I'm using this myself.

Hope this helps, please rate if so




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