If you asked 10 different network engineers this question you would get 10 different kit lists.
My suggestion is to rent equipment from one of the on-line rack rental companies. For example one company rents an entire rack for $1US for 5.5 hours. They have already selected equipment for you that will be suitable for most study scenarios.
Sure you don't get to "touch and feel" the equipment. However working as a network engineer this doesn't happen once you lock a router away in the data centre rack.
Rack rental has the following advantages:
- You can access it from anywhere in the world.
- You don't have to worry about whether the equipment is refurbished or new.
- You don't have to spend hours on eBay searching for the best deals.
- You don't have to worry if the equipment will be shipped to Russia.
The problem with renting is that it does not really allow for time flexibility. I can easily do the same with simulators. I mentioned that I was also working on a thesis and I need the equipment. Renting is not an option.
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