Overview: Buying Used Real Gear

  • Buy/borrow used Cisco routers and switches
  • Primary Purpose: To enable learning about CCENT and CCNA topics
  • CLI: The real CLI, with real IOS, on real gear
  • Scope: Primarily IOS routers and switches
  • Lab exercises: None integrated; can search the Net
  • IOS Licensing: Use IOS delivered when purchased

Analysis of Option to Purchase Real Gear

Produced By...

Cisco Systems (originally); re-sold as used by many companies.

Includes Labs?

This option is about getting real gear; you would search for lab exercises on the net.

Labs on the Internet?

Search the net; look for Wendell’s Config Labs in his two blogs.

Uses Real Cisco IOS?

Yes! Real IOS, real gear. Pay close attention to the IOS Version and feature set included when purchased.

Initial $$$

Usually $300-$400 for a good CCNA R&S lab, but you can be productive with $150-$200.

Annual $$$

$0.00. No recurring costs.

Time: Choose til Use

From 10 hours to infinity. It depends on how much time you want to take before spending $.

Ethical Choices


Historical Real Gear Details

  • In 2000’s, few good CCNA lab options
  • Real gear was best option
  • This web site (and associated blogs) listed details about real gear for CCENT and CCNA labs
  • Today, some great options:
    • Pearson Sim: Great lab learning for not much $
    • Packet Tracer: Free command practice
    • VIRL: Robust virtualized routers and switches with current IOS
  • This web site still has old real gear data
  • No plans to update the data; use if you like

Analysis: Lab Exercises and Real Gear

Are Lab Exercises Included?

No lab exercises included.

Are Labs Easily Available on the Net?

Because of the many options, lab exercises on the net tend more towards VIRL, PT, and GNS3

Trusted authors of CCENT/CCNA labs?

Few source of labs for real gear, so few chances for labs from trusted authors

Overall Usefulness for Lab Learning

Free Play
Real gear works great for learning on your own, but poorly for matching lab exercises.

Analysis: Time and Dollar Costs

Time Overhead: High

How much time does it take to learn the software, choose/buy/install the hardware, to be ready to learn CCENT and CCNA topics? Lower number, speedier start!

Time (Overhead)

Initial Cost: Medium

A lab with 3 routers, 3 switches, and associated cables, with useful IOS versions, can run from $250-$400 or more.

Initial Cost

Annual Cost: Zero

Once purchased, there are no additional ongoing fees.

Annual Cost

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