Is good?

astrogeekastrogeek Posts: 250Member
I'm looking to build a CCNA lab and my budget is around $1000. I've been looking at and they look like they have some good kits and reasonable prices but just wanted to see if anybody has bought anything from them and what you're experience was. I've seen this site appears to do a lot of business through e-bay and their reviews look promising, but I'm hoping someone can share their own personal experience here if they have dealt with this company.

I'm interested in getting one of their CCNA/starter CCNP labs and one of the racks they sell. I plan to expand this lab for CCNP and maybe get into VOIP or other areas, but right now I just need something to start with.


Also, anyone have one of those racks they sell? the 20u rack is only $40 more than the 12u but I don't know which I would need. Considering I'm looking to expand eventually I'm leaning towards the 20u....but I don't know if that would be too big either. I think the brand is skeleton or something, but I can't tell from the pictures and they don't mention any brand name on the site.

Oops, had my ad block turned on....I thought they were advertisers is that a good thing? Hopefully it's okay to discuss :)


  • peanutnogginpeanutnoggin Posts: 1,096Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    As you mentioned, they are advertisers here and they are legit. The general consensus for building a lab is to piece it together via ebay. By piecing your lab together on ebay, you'll save money, get a better understanding of the hardware (cards, modules, models, etc)... IMHO, the kits that are very antiquated and not worth the price. Also, the rack that they sell appears to be the same as Dantrak's Rack which is a few dollars cheaper. I personally haven't used the rack, but I can vouch for the Dantrak rack (plus its cheaper). HTH.

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  • alan2308alan2308 Senior Member Ann Arbor, MIPosts: 1,854Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    +1 to piecing together a lab yourself.

    I have a real hard time recommending a pre-built kit for $475 that only contains $200 worth of hardware and might not be good enough for even the CCNA.

    For your budget, you can put together a GREAT CCNP lab and still have money left over.
  • astrogeekastrogeek Posts: 250Member
    I get a bit confused on the ram and how much I should look for. Every different switch and router seems to have different amounts available so I have no clue what to look for. It's also difficult to search for advice because so much advice is old and may provide outdated information. Getting up to date recommendations is the tricky part I guess.

    Basically I want at least 3 routers and 3 switches and I'd like to be able to expand this into either a voice, security, and/or CCNP setup, (preferably all 3 ;) )

    Any advice is great....and any advice that can help me get more for my money is just flat out awesome icon_cool.gif
  • brad-brad- Posts: 1,218Member
    I was in your boat a few weeks ago and have been looking at them moreso to help me figure out what WIC modules I need. Their equipment is older, but the cost also includes their lab books and - i think they have videos too.

    Even though I didnt buy from them because of the cost, Im not as down on them as some others here. They have return policy, they take the guesswork out of buying all the components, and they have all the extras for lab and studying. Ebay sellers are usually trying to recoop some cost, not always trying to run a business - though some can tell from their names and their 'buy now' or high initial bid.

    Short version, ebay is cheaper but you kind of need to know everything you need beforehand. Cert kits are more expensive but you dont have to know much to get everything you need for your lab and you get the extras.
  • themagiconethemagicone Posts: 674Member
    I'm looking at them also but also at piecing it together. One thing CK does is makes sure the units have the latest and proper IOS. That is where I get confused. So many versions...
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  • djyoxdjyox Posts: 21Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    This looks like a good thread to follow. I'm also in the market. I'm not really sure on my budget at this time. But if I'm going to start parting one together, I can just jump in whenever a good deal pops up. I would like to buy something that I can use, and something I can resell if need be. I also am looking for maybe just keeping it, and following up the cisco food chain for certs.
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  • impzimpz Posts: 113Users Awaiting Email Confirmation
    I'm looking at them also but also at piecing it together. One thing CK does is makes sure the units have the latest and proper IOS. That is where I get confused. So many versions...
    Getting the latest IOS (most likely 12.4) for the routers you buy from ebay shouldn't pose a problem - once the routers themselves come with 32MB or more flash memory.
  • astrogeekastrogeek Posts: 250Member
  • earweedearweed Posts: 5,192Member ■■■■■■■■■□
    I'm piecing mine together as I have more time than money. The kits you're looking at and the price isn't bad if you don't have the time to do the research.
    As others have said you will learn a lot doing the resaerch.
    No longer work in IT. Play around with stuff sometimes still and fix stuff for friends and relatives.
  • odysseyeliteodysseyelite Posts: 500Member ■■■■□□□□□□

    I started off with some cheap 2500's. After I found out they were ok, but to learn all the cocepts new models would be needed I began to research. I learned quite a bit from reading the different threads on TE about different router models, switches, WIC's and cables. I also also glad to know the lab I built will be a good grounding for the CCNP.

    I just totaled my lab up this week and it came to about 750, with 150 of that being shipping.

    1 1600 (free but needed power cord)
    3 2500'S
    1 2511RJ 45
    2 2600XM's
    1 2600
    1 3640
    1 2900 Switch
    4 2950's switches

    WICs include several DSU\CSU and serials
    NM include several nm-2e2w which were included with the 3640, purchased a NM-4T for frame relay.
    Currently reading: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
  • astrogeekastrogeek Posts: 250Member
    Slowly and surely I'm starting to get a better idea of what I want, and it's actually making me a lot more excited about getting my home lab together. I've listed some models off that I found on e-bay, just curious what your thoughts are:

    2 or 3 -2950 or 2960 (not really sure of the differences)
    1 - 3550

    2611 or 2621 (again, not really sure of the differences)
    1 - 3725 - supposedly good for voice track
    1 - 2811 - supposedly good for both security and voice tracks

    I put supposedly because I don't want someone else to read this and think I might know what I'm talking about icon_wink.gif

    I think the switches I have chosen are probably good, but I'm less certain with the routers and have no clue what kinds of WICs to look into. I'm also looking into getting a Skeletek rack, should 20u be fine? The 28u isn't much more expensive...but I don't exactly have all the space in the world either...thoughs?
  • brad-brad- Posts: 1,218Member
    astrogeek wrote: »
    I'm also looking into getting a Skeletek rack, should 20u be fine? The 28u isn't much more expensive...but I don't exactly have all the space in the world either...thoughs?
    I got a 12U a few weeks ago and I love it. I dont plan on needing more room, but it is expandable if you need it to be. If I wasnt married and wife already hates the idea of having this equipment in our house, i would have gotten the 16U...i think that is plenty.

    The rack itself is great. It wont tip over (kids pull on it). Metal is good quality, heavy. Plus like i said if you think you'll outgrow whatever you originally buy they are expandable. I got the 12U because I dont imagine needing more than 8 1U devices - and it's the same height as my desk.

    On your switches, look into seeing if you want the 2950's with the gbics or gigabit ports for stacking.
  • Maverick918Maverick918 Posts: 23Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks guys, I read this thread as I was thinking of going through them too. I didn't even think of going through eBay. I found the 2 switches i need for a much cheaper price! wohoo!! i can start my lab a lot sooner now.
  • PristonPriston Posts: 999Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    astrogeek wrote: »
    2 or 3 -2950 or 2960 (not really sure of the differences)

    2960 supports IPv6
    A.A.S. in Networking Technologies
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  • astrogeekastrogeek Posts: 250Member
    Just thought I'd give a small update....

    I went ahead and started piecing together my home lab. Well, technically I don't think 2 routers can be considered a lab, but because I spent almost $200 on a nice Skeletek rack it's officially a lab to me icon_cool.gif

    Picked up a 2611XM maxed out on memory with 12.4 IOS and also got a 2621XM with 2 serial WIC cards, (which I stuck one in the 2611 so I could connect them via serial). Don't have any switches yet so that's on my next list - probably a pair of 2950's for now, then maybe a couple 3550's later on for some layer 3 switching goodness.

    I'm definitely glad I chose to piece my lab together rather than buy a kit. I'm learning a lot more than if I had just charged a large lump sum to my credit card. Even though I haven't bought much, I have a much better idea of exactly what I want moving forward.

    One question about full time power costs...

    If it's not too expensive I'd like to set this lab up so I can remote into it anytime. Let's say I were to get another router and perhaps 3 switches plus a 2501 to act as a terminal server. That's three 2600XM routers, 3 switches (probably two 2950s and a 3550), and one 2501 as my terminal server.

    Any idea what that might cost to power each month 24/7?
  • alan2308alan2308 Senior Member Ann Arbor, MIPosts: 1,854Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    astrogeek wrote: »
    Any idea what that might cost to power each month 24/7?

    I remembered seeing this on another forum recently. As always, your results may vary depending on your exact equipment and where you live.
    For those that care, I have a Kill-a-Watt hooked up to it and the lab as it sits with 9 routers and a switch powered up runs about 150watts. I think it would run me about $7-8 bucks to run it non-stop all month.

    (this is from an earlier post, more hardware was added before the Kill-a-Watt)
    3 x 2620xm
    1 x 2621xm
    2 x 2650
    2509 access server
    3 x 2950 switches
  • 518518 Posts: 164Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    @ astro: I was on the same boat as you are. Thats until a few members informed me (esp alan) of how I can benefit from piecing the lab myself. While reading the ICND1 book last night, there were a few times that I said "oh, thats what alan and other TE members was talking about!"

    I'm purchasing my lab as soon as I pass ICND1 (6/21/11).

    Good luck, astro!
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