CCNP Lab Equipment - Please advise

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Apr 19th, 2010
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I'm just starting my studies for my CCNP.  I need some lab hardware, I currently have no equipment.  Please advise on specific hardware components that I should have.  Yes, I am on a budget, but I can spare enough to get the minimal equipment.

Also, I found a good deal on a set of 2503 routers.  Would these be a good pickup for my CCNP studies?

Thank you in advance for your specific suggestions!  I appreciate your time.


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The ideal equipment is:

Routers - 2800 and 3800 series

Catalyst 3550/3560 switches

Also, check out to sub out a real lab for a virtual lab.

When it comes to physical labs for CCNP it's not super model specific.  The 1st exam where you really need to know the difference between a 3548 and a 3550 is expert level exams.  Professional level exams are more protocol specific than they are equipment specific.  So your equipment just really has to be able to perform the functions that the above mentioned can perform, and for only the material covered by the CCNP.

Here is a link for Wendel Odom's suggestions and guide:

He provides options for subs.

hilowthere Tue, 04/20/2010 - 07:24
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Thanks for your reply.  But based on what I'm seeing online, the 2800 and 3800 series routers are going for over $1000.  I can't afford to spend a grand per component.

I'm wondering...If the CCNP is more protocol specific instead of platform specific, wouldn't it be best to get some cheaper equipment though, such as the 2503 routers I mentioned? I can get them online for $50 each.

Thanks for the help!

aqeel.karim Mon, 11/01/2010 - 05:57
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I agree with Ryan, GNS3 is about the best bang for the buck... cost free. There are other cost impacts such as available memory, CPU process and of course access to Cisco IOS images. But if all those have a check, GNS3 is a superior application above Packet Tracer, Boson and a few other sims.

One of the issues that GNS3 have is pre-built labs with issues. I have found that you must first build a lab, then create the problem and then figure out how to fix it. At that point you already know what the fix is.

It is a great actual network lab builder that allows you to test out designs that you're working on. Oh and if you have Mac, GNS3 runs flawlessly on a Mac.

Just my take.


jesreard Thu, 11/04/2010 - 18:40
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2500 series routers haven't been sufficient for CCNP for a while.  And now that IPv6 is on the exam, they really just wont cut it.  If you learn well by reading, and think you can get by without being able to do the components the 2500s don't support, you might be okay.  But it's not something I'd reccomend, since basically all you'd be getting out of it is exposure to the command line.

A cheaper alterative is an 1811 - they are slower and smaller than the go-to 2811, have no slots, and cannot do Frame Relay.  But they are three generations newer than the 2500s you are looking at (mid 2000s vs. mid 90s) and can do (almost) everything that you'll need.  (Higher level 1800 series routers get more expensive quickly, and at that point, go for the more functional 2800s)

There might be an 800 series router with a WIC slot in them - it would be even smaller and less powerful than a 2811, but they can do just about everything (excepting Frame Relay). 

My personal suggestion is to go with 2801s.  They are the cheapest of the 2800s, usually running about $600 instead of the $800 for a 2811.  They are the "lowest common denominator" router, and can handle all of the things that are part of the current exam curriculum.

In the end though, the more exposure to the command line you can get, the better.  Exposure and comfort with IOS is the most important thing, in my opinion, that you can do to prepare yourself for the exam.

And remember - if this cert is going to get you a better, higher paying job, then the investment in equipment now is going to be well worth it!


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