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Good / Cheap CISCO equipment for home use / practice ?

TrumandrummerTrumandrummer Taylor Michigan Icrontian
edited Mar 2012 in Hardware
Any Cisco guys here?

Im on my second Cisco class, and I really enjoy it.
Someone told me that you can get some older Cisco routers/switches for fairly cheap prices.

So the idea popped into my head, to use some of my college funds on a small cisco setup for home practice. I would love to be able to use and configure the equipment on a day to day basis. That way I can remember all the commands, and just learn better.

I tend to learn much quicker with more hands on. Actually almost instantly. But when it comes to reading books, it never seems to stick.

It might be a long shot, but if there are any networking/cisco guys here, could you maybe recommend a few older/cheaper routers and switches ?
Im having difficulty looking up what might be good for a cheaper home setup, without getting something completely outdated and useless.

Thanks a lot,


  • MAGICMAGIC Doot Doot Furniture City, Michigan Icrontian
    Why not just play around in a simulator?
  • TushonTushon I'm scared, Coach Alexandria, VA Icrontian
    The setup I used when doing a networking mentorship, I was loaned equipment from my mentor (no help for you there). The stack that I ended up with was 2 routers, a 24 port switch (that I segmented to act like it was multiple switches), 2 IP phones and a rack-mounted server for managing the phones.

    Other than physically setting up the devices, which is the most trivial part of learning it, there is absolutely no difference between using physical devices that are connected correctly and virtual devices in a lab environment. I used an older version of this, which worked great. They also offer exam prep, but I just used the Cisco Press books.
  • TushonTushon I'm scared, Coach Alexandria, VA Icrontian
    There is also the official Cisco training lab, available here for $120. This directly correlates with the two part CCNA exam (see path here)
  • TrumandrummerTrumandrummer Taylor Michigan Icrontian
    Thanks for the info Tushon,
    seems like some very useful software.

    Do you happen to know if it works better, or has any advantages over the cisco packet tracer program?

    I would not mind buying that at all.
  • TushonTushon I'm scared, Coach Alexandria, VA Icrontian
    edited Mar 2012
    I do not know, as I have never used it [packet tracer]. However, you can buy the official Cisco lab while you cannot buy the Packet Tracer, unless you've taken a class (which then the program seems to be free?). I've used both the official Cisco and RouterSim programs. Both worked great and the Cisco one is nice because it ties directly to the exam study books.
  • TrumandrummerTrumandrummer Taylor Michigan Icrontian
    edited Mar 2012
    Thanks Tushon,
    I could get a kit with a couple cisco routers and materials for $149,
    And add a switch from ebay for around $20.

    Ive been trying to look up and see the differences between Cisco's packet tracer and the Cisco Training lab that you showed me. Because packet tracer is free, if there isn't many differences in the simulation, then im not sure.

    Do you think it would be pointless to buy the cisco gear ? Even though the cisco training lab is not that much cheaper ($120) ?

    In my mind, I just feel like I would play with it more if I had them connected physically. Id have more motivation to play with stuff and set stuff up.... Than just turning on my computer and running a software.
  • TushonTushon I'm scared, Coach Alexandria, VA Icrontian
    3 pieces of gear vs 300 labs with every kind of gear isn't a choice to me, but to each his own.
  • TrumandrummerTrumandrummer Taylor Michigan Icrontian
    That's true,
    I didn't really look at it that way.

    I finally found some people posting the differences between packet tracer and the training lab. The training lab..... like you said, has lots of real situation training exercises, but you can't change the equipment around. Packet tracer you have all the freedom of changing equipment and all of that..... but without the labs.

    But since packet tracer is free, it seems like a good choice to get the Training lab, AND use packet tracer on the side.
  • TushonTushon I'm scared, Coach Alexandria, VA Icrontian
    Is it free for anyone, or just people in a course? That was how it appeared to me.

    Sounds good though.
  • TrumandrummerTrumandrummer Taylor Michigan Icrontian
    Yea, your right. Its only for people in the courses. You have to log in to Academy Connection to download it.... which really kind of makes it not free, but im not complaining.
  • TrumandrummerTrumandrummer Taylor Michigan Icrontian
    edited Mar 2012
    A little bit of an update here,
    I am still planning on buying that training lab software/packet, hopefully this week.

    But I was talking to my brother in law about networking and Cisco, and he said his work just got all new Cisco equipment a couple years ago. I asked him what they did with the old stuff and he said, he thought they were just sitting in a back room gonna be tossed out. He told me he might be able to get me some.

    Sure enough, he brought me a Switch and a Router today. They told him to take them, that they were just wasting space, and were gonna be thrown out.

    He got me a 3524 XL Switch and a 2610 XM Router.

    So im pretty excited. They are fairly old (10 years or so) but that's ok. They were free, and combined with that training lab, and the Cisco packet tracer etc.... should get me a lot of good practice in.
  • TushonTushon I'm scared, Coach Alexandria, VA Icrontian
    Cool cool. It was nice to have the physical stuff, but the real meat is in the newer stuff (i.e. not sure what version that gear has and if it can be updated) since that is what you'll be using in the wild.
  • TrumandrummerTrumandrummer Taylor Michigan Icrontian
    edited Mar 2012
    Yea Its gonna be a little different since its older. So im gonna be using the software for the majority of that. Plus I don't really have multiple switches/routers like the lab environment to connect to and all of that. I think its fun though, im not sure why. I hope that feeling doesn't go away and get boring for me.

    I just ordered some console cables, since this router has an RJ45 console port, I needed a rollover. And I don't have a Crimp tool. Amazon had a 6 foot, RJ45 rollover console cable for like $8, and I get free 2 day shipping through Amazon prime. So I jumped on it and bought two.

    Im not positive, but im gonna assume that this gear probably can't be updated much. Its fairly old. The Switch says mfg in 2000, and the router is 2003.
  • doabarrellrolldoabarrellroll San Jose, CA Icrontian
    Check craiglist and garage sales too. Most people don't know what these things are actually worth.

    I once saw a 10/100 48 port Cisco managed switch at a garage sale for $30. I shoulda bought it actually, lol.
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