Building a home lab for CCNP

Unanswered Question


I'm thinking about building a home-lab to play (at the same time earning CCNP for it). I've been looking around for articles and suggestions and the most recent ones is 10-page $800-$1200-$1600 article on network world by Mr. Odom Wendell. However, that's about 8 months old and there might be newer equipments/suggestions that are more suitable.

Can somebody suggest what models/quantity of routers & switches/IOS version/features I am looking for. Yes. I know of simulators, gns3 etc, and I do not want to go that route. Not because I'm too rich. But, I learn better with the real thing. Anyway, here are some of my requirements.

1. My goal is CCNP only for now. Might probably sell it back after a year (don't mind losing up to 50% of the value). Or might add more stuffs and go to CCIE, but, unlikely.

2. I need to be able to practice 100% (or 99.9%) of everything & scenarios for all exams of CCNP (wireless, advanced ip, sdm, layer 3, ipv6, vpn, frame relay cloud etc).

3. Even though money should be no issue up to about $4K max. However, I don't want to drop 4K when 2K would cover 100% of CCNP exam. That's wasteful.

Right now, I like the list posted in the comment section of network world article by Shaun. This is his Uber setup!

2 x 3550 w/ EMI

2 x 2950T

4 x 3640

2 x 2621

1 x 2511

2 x 877W

That's already about $4K. Am I missing something? Any substitution, removal, addition from this list?


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Overall Rating: 2.8 (5 ratings)
jrensink78 Fri, 02/06/2009 - 18:55

I honestly wouldn't worry about doing any wireless practice. It'll cost a good chunk of money for very little return.

Your switch choices look good. That's pretty much what I used. You shouldn't need more than 4 routers. 3640s or 2610XMs are good options. Grab a couple of each and you should be fine. They each have a couple of things that the other doesn't do. If you find that you need something more, you can always add it later.

Lastly, the 2511 is a good idea. Access Servers make life much easier.

Good luck!

stuart-cox Tue, 02/10/2009 - 14:24

For routers I would buy the 2600XM series because they support the latest versions of IOS. Also they are much cheaper than 2800 series routers. The author of the Cisco Press lab book for the BSCI uses 4 2800 series but says you can also use 2600XM series. Personally I bought 4 2650XMs for $100 each. You can get away with 1 ethernet interface, but you need a WIC-2T in each router. Also make sure the routers have 32M Flash and 128M Ram to support the IOS's with the proper feature sets.

I would get:

1 x 3550

2 x 2950

3 x 2650XM

1 x 2621XM

1 x 2511 Term Serv - this is a must!

2 x 877W

5 x WIC-2T - one rtr needs 2 so it can be the frame-relay switch

Basically I would consult the Cisco Press lab books first then make your purchases so you don't waste money and time.

Justin Brenton Fri, 02/13/2009 - 02:14

Definately look into dynamips/GNS3 before you buy equipment. You maynot have to spend a cent. , You can download the all in one package and then look through the documentation and online videos, you will have this up and running in no time, You will however need a decent pc with a nice bit of ram to run a full CCNP Lab.

You can also find Lab files and Topologies at

HTH, Please rate if so



davehartburn Sat, 02/14/2009 - 06:41

I've been doing ISCW using some very old 1721 routers, and have been able to do around 90% of the lab exercises. If money is short, these are enough to scrape by with.

I needed to upgrade the memory in these. While the official Cisco memory is very expensive, HP 4100 printers use the same type any is very cheap.

srue Wed, 06/10/2009 - 08:08

if you plan on using this lab for CCIE studies, stay away from 3640's, as they don't run the latest IOS (12.4T). Stick with the 2600XM's.


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