Starter Cisco Lab Advice Please

Hello All, could someone advise me on what sort of equipment for the very basic Cisco starter lab for studying CCNA. Do I just need a couple of routers like the 1841's or do I need more than that.. more routers, switches etc??

Once CCNA is achieved I probably will take a break from study of maybe do MSCA Server 2012, so I at least know how that all operates also. Point being that I dont think I will need any elaborate Cisco lab yet, just the basic set-up.



  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Member Posts: 1,772 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Moving on to servers you will probably be better off building a virtualization machine. Something with 16GB of ram so you can run a few virtual machines at once.

    CCNA can be done with GNS3 or packet tracer.
  • wgroomwgroom Member Posts: 147
    Agreed, studying with Packet Tracer or GNS3 will suffice for CCNA. If you decide you enjoy networking, and want to pursue the CCNP: R&S then 1841s and a few 3500 series switches would be a good start. Throw in a layer 3 switch, and you would be good. It is great to work with physical equipment, learn how to make cables, and troubleshoot live hardware, but not necessary for the CCNA. However, if you like to tinker, a couple of low cost routers and switches would give you hours of enjoyment.
    Cisco VoIP Engineer I
    CCNA R&S COLOR=#008000]Complete[/COLOR CCNA Voice COLOR=#008000]Complete[/COLOR CCNA Collaboration [In Progress]
  • sferg410sferg410 Member Posts: 129
    Thanks guys, I will give Packet Tracer a go then, is it complicated....??
    Jon_Cisco.... My laptop has an i7, SSD and 20GB of memory, would that suffice......
  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Member Posts: 1,772 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I think that should work nicely. SSD allows the reads to keep up and 20gig ram should allow you to run a number of machines. They will often run with 1 or 2gig assigned per machine.
  • NetworkNewbNetworkNewb Member Posts: 3,298 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I dunno if your not running Packet Tracer on a laptop like the one below your kinda limiting yourself...

    Disclaimer: Packet Tracer is pretty simple program and doesn't actually require any thing too special as far computer performance
  • gorebrushgorebrush Member Posts: 2,743 ■■■■■■■□□□
    Have you got any experience physically touching routers/switches? This is critical for newcomers to Cisco, IMO.
  • ImYourOnlyDJImYourOnlyDJ Member Posts: 180
    If you can afford it I would definitely recommend having hands on experience. I personally used a Cisco 2621XM and a 2950 for my home network to help get caught up to speed. Plus showing you have hands on experience with the equipment could be a major plus for potential employers.
  • HondabuffHondabuff Member Posts: 667 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Packet Tracer when starting out. You need to be able to bang out commands over and over until you just get it. You can reload devices as fast as you can handle it. PT has some really cool features and you can practice basic Tacacs/Radius/DHCP and so on.Once you get through CCENT then I would start playing with GNS3 to get the hang of the real feel IOS and some more advanced commands. GNS3 is not a program you just load up and start plugging away. Takes a bit to learn how to set it up and make it work. Get the CCNA Portable command line guide book and just follow along. Studying for Cisco has an allure where everyone thinks they need a $xxxx dollar lab to study. It helps but not required. Once you are pretty deep in ICND2 I would pick up a 1841 and maybe a 3550 switch just to play with on your home network. All the labs in CCNP will feel just like Packet Tracer and GNS3 so get used to it.
    “The problem with quotes on the Internet is that you can’t always be sure of their authenticity.” ~Abraham Lincoln
  • sferg410sferg410 Member Posts: 129
    So just the 2 units Hondabuff, 1 x 1841 and 1 x 3550?
  • MTciscoguyMTciscoguy Member Posts: 552
    At a minimum, I would recommend at least 2 of each to get started. I started with 5 switches and 5 routers and have built from there, but 2 and 2 will get you started if you are using packet tracer and GNS3
    Current Lab: 4 C2950 WS, 1 C2950G EI, 3 1841, 2 2503, Various Modules, Parts and Pieces. Dell Power Edge 1850, Dell Power Edge 1950.
  • JeanMJeanM Member Posts: 1,117
    Yep, a simple (cheap) lab with 2-3 26xx or 18xx series routers and 29xx switches is more than enough for CCNA R&S.
    2015 goals - ccna voice / vmware vcp.
  • gorebrushgorebrush Member Posts: 2,743 ■■■■■■■□□□
    I have some equipment I am trying to sell too - it would be perfect for CCNA through CCIE studies as it stands.
  • OfWolfAndManOfWolfAndMan Member Posts: 923 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Generally sferg, you should be able to get a set of 2 cheaper routers and 2 2950s for under 150 (Or around 100 if you look around the right places). However, if you have the money, two 1841s would suffice as well (You could get two for under 150). The benefit of having these is they have the IOS 15.x software on them. Just a thought.

    Also, beastly laptop! Great for running some VMs.
    :study:Reading: Lab Books, Ansible Documentation, Python Cookbook 2018 Goals: More Ansible/Python work for Automation, IPSpace Automation Course [X], Build Jenkins Framework for Network Automation []
  • Chev ChelliosChev Chellios Member Posts: 343 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Hi sferg,

    Nice laptop by the way, plenty of power for running loads of VMs there when you come to the 2012 stuff icon_cool.gif

    As for CCNA, I've recently started the CCNA track and packet tracer is good especially if you dont have much Cisco experience. Gets you used to the commands etc. If you have the cash then it never hurts to set up a home lab with some lower end routers/switches plus you get the hands on experience too with that and cabling etc
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