Guide to Buying Cisco Certification Lab Equipment Online

I bought  my CCNP Lab, CCIE Voice Lab online  In last several years I have spent tons of money on Cisco lab .Specially Cisco IP Phones , Routers and switces . Here is a video of my lab . 

So you want to be CCNA , CCNP or CCIE .Hmm..If you are currently reading this . Congratulations you have taken first step .I have all 3 certifications. Skipped ccna voice lab and directly went for CCIE Voice.I have taken CCIE voice lab 1 times but didnt make it but honestly its not that bad.

Here are my recommendations based on my experience .

You must buy equipment , Either beg , borrow , steal ( not recommended ) 🙂  .When I first started out in Cisco world around 13 years back , I didn’t buy any equipment . I just bought CCNA press book . Start reading it. Didnt do anything, Studied for 12-14 hours a day straight for 18 days . Thats it . I was done with CCNA , though barely made it . Last 2 days went to Barnes and Noble and used SYBEX CCNA Book there since I didnt have money to buy the book . Although I made it , victory was hollow and I didn’t have confidence to face interviews ,Why , because I have never seen a damn router in real life . I tried googling but real life is real life plus google was not that advanced at that point of time. Life was hard . I should have bought CCNA CCNP Lab certification kits. Whats the point of all these ?

Point is spend some upfront to buy some equipment . It pays itself off and many times over in long run.

Now that you are convinced that you must have real life equipment . Lets see where we can get it.


If you are working, chances are very high that your employer has tons of gear lying around sitting in underground stores which nobody cares or even bother to care . Its big pile of shit and nobody want to do the work of cleaning it up . If you are the man on mission , you must find this hidden treasure . Many times , its sitting in data center or racks or engineers desk or lying in some dark rooms or even sitting right under your desk . I guarantee there  30 to 40% equipment which is unused in any environment. There are several reasons for it, Years of neglect and engineers coming and going leaves a big black hole of equipment nobody knows whats happening. Here is another sad truth, if you go and ask your manager if they have any LAB, he will mostly say NO because even he would care less. So best approach is to find these master pieces sitting around office and then ask your manager ,Can I use it for simulating upcoming project . Most likely he will say SURE . Find the equipment not connected , powered up .

RISKY STRATEGY : I never ask for permission, Ask for forgiveness and act as if you are as innocent as child. Just use equipment thats  lying around not connected to anything. Watch it for 10 days whether anyone bother to give some love to that equipment.On 11th day , that equipment is yours . Make a  sticker , LAB Equipment, Do not touch , Stick on it and woohoo . You  just got a first piece.Do not take it home unless you have written permission. Aim is to learn NOT Steal company’s property. 


Problem with Cisco equipment is that its on mercy on persons motivation. What I mean is,  suddenly I will feel the urge that I want to be CCIE . I will buy this huge lab and start working on it for weeks or months , sometime few days . Depends on how strong your urge it . Since we all human are kind of similar  , What will happen to all that equiment when motivation to study is gone ?  All that equipment is sitting there and waiting for rightful owner . I have several phones , routers and switches sitting in my house. I still have some hopes left that I will CCIE Voice someday  🙂 ..Silly me . So ask your friends and family if you can borrow equipment and they will glady loan it to you . I remember buying equipment from coworker while up in Framingham MA working with Dimension Data. Same situation, he had lost the motivation and just pretty much gave away the equipment. After sometime,  your wife’s start cribbing  too much about extra space, your useless equipment is taking.[ Useless to HER ..Gold to US, breadwinner ETC ]  Fortunately situation is reverse in my house since my wife Ketaki Harpale is also a Cisco Voice /UC Engineer]

Now that we have covered basics , Lets see where else we can get equipment online .

Ebay and Amazon 

Ebay is best place in my view to get cheap Cisco Certification gear. I have prepared a list to Top Ebay buyer you should use . If you are pro and going for CCIE or higher level exam , you probably understand equipment, Go on bidding on individual pieces on Ebay , thats the cheapest you will get .


If you are newbie , You are better off buying CCNP Lab packages. Although sometimes it will cost you more /sometimes less and some gurus are against it . I personally think that convenient of having everything together shipped outweigh little extra you might have to pay. Another reason been ,Since understanding equipment is tough. I still dont understand slang they use. For example whats the difference between these cards . HWIC-4ESW, HWIC-2FE and GLC-SX-MMD . Its confusing man .I am still confused after so many years . So go with pre build lab . I personally bought lab on Ebay with success for CCNP . I am too lazy to bid on individual pieces , I would happily pay someone extra to do all the work for me . After all your job is to become Cisco Engineer , not Coupon finding Dealsite.

At time of this writing, After spending few hours looking for lab on Amazon and Ebay . I found pretty much same sellers selling on both with just little price differential .

I am Amazon Guy but for labs I would recommend EBay .

Check out this ebay and this amazon lab –   Same thing but seems like Amazon is little expensive . If I were you , I would buy from Ebay just because , it has more reputed sellers with long history and provides better Buyer Protection .

I also maintain Cisco Top 25 Selling Equipment Daily Price Sheet in google doc .

Craiglist Sell Side 

Check out this ad , Do I need to say more. Keep checking equipment in and around your area

Cisco Certification lab
Cisco Certification lab


Craigslist Again –BUY Side

This is another overlooked feature, Most people look on craigslist for sellers but there are also bulk buyers that are scouring  for Used equipment at rock bottom throw away prices . These agents will then sell stuff to consolidators or other bigger resellers . There are several agents working for few big resellers who gets commision to bring in cheap equipment . Contact them , you will be surprised by how much junk they have lying around . They  have generally big warehouses outside the city .

Bulk buyers on craiglist


If you are reading this , that means you were born super lucky to have all labs available to you on cloud . All material on Video and everything you need to succeed on an app . What more you want .

For CCIE Voice Lab Preparation ,I bought CCIE Voice video series for 1500 and then bought 4 phones , router and a switch . These equipment connect to cloud equipment via a VPN . Pretty sweet . I spend around 1200$ for Rack time. I took a bootcamp with Vik Malhi of IPExpert . He has started his own company CollabCert since then [Vik is amazing if you are trying to take CCIE Collaboration].Also I used INE resource heavily and subscribed to there monthly all inclusive package .Material out there today is so convenient and amazing that there is no reason for anyone not to study . Literally there is nothing more you need.Everything is been handed out to you in silver platter. All you have to do is consume it.  I would highly recommend all the cloud labs and their material . Very very good.

Alternate IDEA : If you have time off from work , Go to cheaper countries like India or Philippines to get the bootcamp . I am from India and you can get 30 day all inclusive CCIE Bootcamp for around 2-3 grand. You see a new country and get a cert .I am coining a new term right now . #CertificationTourism


INE offer CCNA Video Course Free .

GNS3 is free simulation                                                                                                           Download this Cisco 3D Interactive App . Amazing App

Alternate IDEA : If you have time off from work , Go to cheaper countries like India or Philippines to get the bootcamp . I am from India and you can get 30 day all inclusive CCIE Bootcamp for around 2-3 grand. You see a new country and get a cert .I am coining a new term right now . #CertificationTourism

At closing I would like to point to a story from Think and Grow Rich . There was a man Edwin who wanted to be partner with Edison but was so poor he has no money to even take a train to Edison’s office in Orange NJ . He took the freight train and made it happen.Again that was in 1930s. So if whether you are starting out or professional , My point is equipment should not be a problem, There is plenty of avenues you can get it from . What counts is , do you have desire strong enough to get thru this hurdles .


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