Pricing for #CCNA Lab Switches

CCENTSkills
By CCENTSkills November 21, 2013 09:05

It’s time to wrap up this series. The new price estimates are posted for 2950, 2960, and 3550 switches. The prices are pretty reasonable for most any budget. Today’s post hits the highlights!

Earlier posts in this series:

Prices!

Look towards the bottom of my historical look at used gear pricing to find the prices. I didn’t do a wide spread of model series, but I did look at the three most likely model series for finding a good marriage of CCNA support as cheap used prices: 2950, 2960, and 3550.

Tale of Two Software Builds

Each of the model series has (at least) two variations of software builds early in their life. Later, Cisco merged some of the builds, as follows:

2950: Standard Image (SI) and Enhanced Image (EI)

2960: LAN Lite and LAN Base

3550: Standard Image ( SI) and Enhanced Image (EI)

For the 2950s and 2960s, the model of switch dictated which software build could be used. That is, you could not buy a 2950 that supported the (lesser) standard IOS image and then load an (better) enhanced IOS image onto the switch. The 3550’s, however, while sold as either an SI or EI model, could actually be upgraded from an SI to an EI model just by copying the EI IOS image to the switch.

When buying for a CCNA lab, unless you do a lot more research than what I have described here, try and stick with the better software (EI or LAN base) when you can, just to make sure you get all the desired features. That’s to be safe. If you really need to save cash, you can research the specific IOS version on a specific for-sale switch, versus the Cisco Feature Navigator (www.cisco.com/go/fn), and check versus the features in this list: http://www.certskills.com/LabGear/CCNA/SwitchIOSFeatures.aspx.

Best Budget Switches: 2950s

2950s run in the $30-$40 range used in our most recent research. Even if you got an older one with the standard image, it has most every CCNA feature. This web page has some links and short lists of specific 2950 models that began life as either SI or EI switches. (Unfortunately, the Cisco data sheets about the enhanced image models are gone, but model WS-C2950T-24 is a common-found enhanced image 2950 switch.)

Best Long-Term Layer 2 Switch: 2960

The 2960 models that began life with the better (LAN Base) software were right at $100 each in our recent pricing tests. If you plan to go far with your Cisco studies, these might be worth the extra cash compared to the really inexpensive 2950s.

Best Switch for Soon-to-be CCNPs: 3550 EI

If you know for sure you’ll plan to get a CCNP, and get it sooner rather than later, then the 3550 EI switches are reasonable options. They support layer 3 switching, including OSPF and EIGRP routing protocols. And the used prices have gotten pretty inexpensive.

If you know you want CCNP, but maybe not so soon, you might want to wait. Cisco 3560 switches, which are one generation later than the 3550s, may have low enough prices by the time you need a CCNP lab for it to make sense and wait to buy those.

That’ It!

It’s been a fun and fruitful three months on the lab topic, but it’s time to move on to some other topics. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!

#CCNA Lab Switch Models
CCENTSkills
By CCENTSkills November 21, 2013 09:05
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8 Comments

  1. Mike P November 27, 00:08

    My wife got me your new ccent cert guide with simulator for Christmas and I have your old ccent guide already. I am assembling a home lab also. What do you think of the 3750 Metro switches. Version is 12.2 and with no further upgrades. Will a layer 3 switch like this be a benefit or is it too old of a version? Also what version IOS switches is needed for the ccent and ccna exam?

    Thank you for your help.

    Reply to this comment
  2. CCENTSkills Author December 3, 06:28

    Hi Mike,
    Well, I can give a few opinions brief here. 3750’s should be fine for CCENT and CCNA R&S practice. Cisco avoids platform-specific questions anyway, so even if a command or two has a little different output on the 3750, you will still learn well. I haven’t researched the specific IOS versions for switches, but you can easily do so just running through the Cisco feature navigator. The list of features at this page is still pretty solid (although it’s on my list to update for the new exams.) http://www.certskills.com/LabGear/CCNA/SwitchIOSFeatures.aspx
    Wendell

    Reply to this comment
  3. Luciano_S April 21, 04:54

    Hi Wendell!

    I’d like to ask you about something that I haven´t seen discussed anywhere, so far. I’m also setting up a home lab and I have a 1841 router running IOS 12.4 (with minimum DRAM/Flash config, just 128/32 MB) with a WIC-2T module installed. A friend of mine has a spare EtherSwitch 4-Port HWIC which I will probably borrow. Will that module work as a switch for my practices? I already have a 2950 switch with the Standard Image and a 2620XM router, also. I’d really appreciate your insight on this!
    Thanks!

    Reply to this comment
    • CCENTSkills Author May 7, 09:14

      Hi Luciano,
      Sorry I didn’t see your post for a while – just overlooked it.
      I’ve not tried the etherswitch card, but I’ve heard that many others have, and gotten a lot of use out of it for CCNA study. You can indeed configure VLANs, trunking, and it acts like a layer 2 switch. It does blur some lines, so if you’re tending towards being more confused rather than less confused, I might spring for another separate cheap switch. But if you already have the switch card, go for it – a lot can be learned. But if buying it now, I’d still by a separate switch – they’re so cheap these days.
      Hope this helps! Ping me back to follow up.
      Wendell

      Reply to this comment
      • Luciano_S May 15, 08:02

        Hi there again! Thanks for the reply, Wendell! Since my friend has the switch card sitting there, I’ll borrow it and give it a try. After what you said, I think it may be worth to try running it on a router and see how it works.
        Thanks again,

        Luciano

        Reply to this comment
  4. configt August 19, 21:18

    Wendell, Has this been updated and available somewhere on you sites? If not, know of another such resource?

    Reply to this comment
    • CCENTSkills Author August 24, 16:11

      Hi configt. Nope, I’ve not updated these numbers in quite a while. I have a vague recollection of some other sites that I’m not remembering, but I think I read about some at the Cisco Learning Network (learningnetwork.cisco.com) – maybe look around there?
      Wendell

      Reply to this comment
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