Pricing for #CCNA Lab Switches
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:
- CCENT and CCNA Lab Gear
- CCENT and CCNA Lab Topologies
- IOS Version 15 for a Cisco Home Lab – or Not
- Narrowing Your Router Search Based on IOS Version
- CCNA Home Lab Homework: Cisco Feature Navigator
- Specific Searches for Your CCNA Lab
- Final Words on CCNA Router Lab
- Used CCNA Router Pricing Process
- CCNA Lab Router Models: More than 1721
- CCNA Lab Switch Models
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:
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.
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!