CertificationKits CCNA 200-301 Lab Recommendations

The big 2020 Cisco CCNA Certification update is here!  Run! Hide! What will we do!?! Have no fear! We are here to help with the information you need to make an informed decision on the lab equipment you need to be prepared!  We have worked in partnership with Cisco NetAcad instructors and CCIEs to keep our kits at the best configurations you can find at any price point.  At CertificationKits, we did the hard research for you and you are completely covered!  We have been doing this for over 20 years strong and are working hard to make sure we continue to offer nothing but the best!

First off, we want to stress that we feel that this revision to the Cisco Certification Program is very exciting and positive!  With this, CCNA is hotter and trending more than ever!  Updates like these are what prove to companies, HR representatives, IT recruiters, etc. that Cisco Certified Network Engineers are at the top of their game; the best at what they do.  (Was that almost an X-Men reference?)  The new exam covers a wider base of more current knowledge and really shows that a CCNA Certified engineer can excel and move up the ladder wherever necessary.  Nothing compares to the knowledge and skill that a Cisco Certified Engineer can add to your IT department. When you hire a Cisco Certified Engineer, you know exactly what you are getting and their worth.  More importantly, always remember that as the CCNA certification progresses, it proves more and more that you know your stuff! With this, so does the amount of money you can expect to make as a CCNA!  Networking is one of the fastest growing fields in the world and with that comes the rewards. Anyone can do this, even a complete beginner, all you need is the drive! 

We still advise you to read our CCNA 200-125 Lab Suggestions Page, as some of that info is still very helpful.  It didn’t go away yesterday.  However, take that with a grain of salt, as this is the most current info.

If you happen to already have a 200-125 kit from us or equipment on hand, you can also purchase our brand new, fully updated CCNA 200-301 training materials from the Training and Media section of our site.  Our team worked in partnership with Cisco NetAcad instructors and CCIEs who are not only highly certified, but also have many years of combined experience working hands on with students.  This brings a whole extra layer of confidence that these are not only the best labs and theory on the market, but also cover the topics in a way that we know students’ will easily comprehend.  All of our content is written in a user friendly format that even a pure beginner or experienced IT professional can understand.  What good are all the labs in the world if they feel like they were written by a robot and in some alien language?   Over the course of 24+ years, thousands have successfully certified using our complete training packages.

So, what equipment is Cisco recommending this time around?

CCNA 200-301

This time around, Cisco has released a couple topology options covering their minimum hardware topology/hardware requirements and their recommended requirements for the optimal learning experience. To satisfy the minimum requirement, Cisco has a minimum requirement of two routers and two switches.  However, our recommendation and Cisco’s recommendation for a full topology is to run a three router and three switch lab.  This is also the topology we write our lab workbook for because we know this is going to best prepare you to pass the CCNA exam!  What is even better here is that the new CCNP enterprise certification has the same three router and three switch topology as its base.  So, this means that if you start out with good routers and switches on CCNA, you will have a very easy transition to move onto the CCNP level certification.  If you don’t want to go with a three router and three switch setup, don’t worry, you can still do all the labs by scaling back a two router and two switch kit.  Cisco does have a small wireless component that will be part of the new exam, but this is simply a generic wireless router that you already have at home.  However, we do provide an option with all of our CCNA labs to add a wireless access point (along with the labs to go along with it!) in case you want to go a step further and take that extra dive into wireless capability. 

Official CCNA 2 Router and 2 Switch Topology:

     (2) 4221 Base Licensed Routers

     (2) 2960 Switches

     (1) Generic Wireless Router


Official CCNA 2 Router and 2 Switch Topology:

     (3) 4221 Base Licensed Routers

     (3) 2960 Switches 

     (1) Generic Wireless Router


So, let’s remember that these are the exact specs from Cisco and not a direct requirement for what you must have to be able to study for and pass the CCNA.  Most of us are on much tighter budgets and want to do this as affordably and effectively as possible.  We’re with you! After reviewing the new curriculum for CCNA, on the higher end level, we still highly recommend the G2 series routers (1921, 1941 and 2911) as giving you close to the same capability for a price that is a lot easier on your budget.    

We offer many kits that are much more cost friendly with 1841, 2801 and 2811 routers in them.  These are still great options and in most cases a great fit for students on a budget.  While these are the more entry level and mid-range options available, they can still do the vast majority of the labs and you will still be able to get an exceptional and full experience that will have you prepared for the CCNA exam!  We design our labs with the capability levels of all of our offerings in mind.  All of our labs come with the 2960 switch as the base device.  So, that means that no matter what kit you select, the switches will match the exact IOS Cisco wrote the exam for.  The CCNA Premium Kit is the customer favorite here and the 2811 router in this kit have been time proven to provide incredible capability for your money:  https://shop.certificationkits.com/cisco-ccna-200-301-premium-kit/

If you want to keep the cost down and get into a G2 router we offer hybrid style kits called “Premium Plus”  In most cases, these are our techs favorite picks because they blend a budge friendly option with exceptional capability options. The trick here is that you have one router that will be able to seamlessly run every command.  The 2811 can run the vast majority of the commands, but there are a few things they may skip a beat on in the very advanced labs.  The beauty of this is that you will always be able to have one router that goes very smoothly.  Then if you run into a minor bump in the road, you can actually troubleshoot against the 1921.  Using the 1921 as a baseline, if the command runs on the 1921 and not perfectly on the 2811s, then you know right away that it is a minor capability issue and not something you may have made a mistake on. With this kit you will get the best experience offered from both generations of routers and heck, you get a bonus way to learn some valuable troubleshooting skills!  If you want to take things up another notch, you can select to upgrade the 1921 to a 1941 with the security license on it.  This will give you a G2 router with BOTH the base and security licenses on the device.  This will let prime you for CCNA Security level work and even CCNP!  Here is a link to the CCNA Premium Plus Lab Kit:  https://shop.certificationkits.com/cisco-ccna-200-301-premium-plus-kit/

The next step up would be what we consider the best case scenario without getting into the 4000 series XE routers that we really don’t consider necessary for certification success.  There isn’t anything on the CCNA 200-301 exam that you can’t learn using the G2 series routers.  The CCNA G2 Titanium Kit has three 1921 routers and is paired with two 2960 switches to match Cisco’s specs, along with a 3750v2 switch to exceed those.  The 3750v2 adds a true layer 3, fully dynamic switch so you can explore beyond the curriculum. Here is a link to this kit:  Cisco CCNA 200-301 G2 Titanium Kit

To help out here, just like with the more typical CCNA options, if you really want the 4000 series routers incorporated into your lab, we have created our hybrid kits that “meet in the middle” by combining the 4000 series routers with the G2 series. This alleviates some of the expense and makes entry into the 4000 series a much more financially reasonable solution.  This will give you the best of both worlds by allowing you to experience what both series of routers has to offer!  This way you can explore both IOS Universal and IOS XE!  You can find the XE/G2 hybrid kits here.

If you are a student with larger ambitions to move up the certification ladder and have the room in your budget or are a school/training academy, the best case scenario is always going to be to match Cisco’s specs directly.  This is of course the most expensive option, but it does put you inline directly with what Cisco writes the exam for and will provide a seamless experience.  These are our XE Official Series Kits.

One thing we should mention is that Cisco has dropped the need for Serial ports on the CCNA exam.  This means that you can skip these now if you want to keep the cost down even further.  However, we still think this is a very relevant technology to have knowledge of as you will still see these in the field.  Just because they were removed from the exam curriculum does not mean they disappeared from real world networks, especially internationally.  To prove this point even further, these are still required for CCNP Enterprise, CCNA Security, etc.  Even though these are not part of the CCNA exam, if you purchase the serial cards, we include the labs to get you going on being ahead of the game in broadening your knowledge base.  You also save some money, as they are bundle priced with the purchase of a kit.

Just to go over things again in another format:

G1 Series Routers 1841, 2801, 2811, 2821
G2 Series Routers 1921, 1941, 2901, 2911
XE Series Routers 4221, 4321, 4331

G1 – This is going to be the best place to look for most students.  These are our most budget friendly solutions.  The G1 series routers are still very affordable and boast amazing capability for most lab work.  This means less money out of your pocket while still having the power to obtain your CCNA Certification.

G1/G2 hybrid – Just like the G2/XE hybrid kits, these are designed to get the experience of the G2 series, while still keeping the cost down by supplementing with the G1 series.  This is an excellent solution for most students and one of our techs favorite options!  

G2 – These are what we consider to be the best case scenario option for matching a budget friendly solution with capability.  These will be for candidates that want to be as close as possible to the more expensive XE options without breaking the bank.  Once again, these will get you pretty close to a seamless experience for CCNA for a considerably lower cost than an XE lab kit.  We also recommend this for candidates that have ambitions to expand past the CCNA.  We provide an option in these kits to upgrade any number of 1921 to 1941 sec.  This goes one step up and adds the permanent security license to the router.  This will be very helpful in matching the transitional requirement for CCNP and CCNA/CCNP level security.

XE-  We recommend these for the most ambitious of students, schools and professionals.  As we mentioned before, the G2 is still a much better pick financially if you aren’t concerned with having a perfect match to Cisco’s official specs (which we know are beyond what is necessary to complete the curriculum).   If you want to incorporate these, just like with the G2/G1 series, we do offer our XE/G2 hybrid style kits that break up the cost and blend devices.  With all of this being said, these are amazing routers with capability that will have you going far into the future.

Let’s change gears from routing now and talk a little bit about switches.  If you recall the official recommendations from earlier in this article, Cisco recommends (3) 2960 switches.  We made this easy because all of the kits come with 2960 or better switches by default. So, no matter which kit you choose, you hit that spec right out of the gate.  Now you’ll notice that many of our kits come with 3560 or 3750v2 switches or both. These models actually take things a step further and exceed Cisco’s recommendations.  We felt that as the kits got more advanced, that these make great additions because they give you fully dynamic, true layer 3 capability. Layer 3 switching is becoming more and more common-place and this has you prepared to explore this in a capacity beyond the scope of the CCNA.  Another benefit here is that incorporating these switches helps make the transition into moving into upper level certs like the CCNP that much smoother.

The important thing to take away from this is that you can absolutely conquer the CCNA exam using any of these options!  These are all just different paths to success, only separated by what you are interested in investing. Even with the cheapest kit, your ambition and drive can fill in the minor capability gaps while also building real world experience.  

We can tell you companies are screening new engineers to make sure they have worked with real equipment.  “What does your home lab look like?” has become a favorite interview question as a way to filter out those candidates that don’t have hands on experience with physical devices.  They know that nothing can ever top using the real thing! Network engineers that use simulators will simply never match those who learned using real equipment.  The industry actually has a funny term for network engineers that learned only off simulators.  They like to playfully call them, “Paper Tigers”.  You wouldn’t train a surgeon using a simulator, so why would a network engineer responsible for sensitive data be any different? We cannot stress enough that using real equipment is the right way to do things and be prepared not only for the exam, but also the real world.

We have over two decades of experience being the premiere source for Cisco lab kits.  We have helped thousands of students obtain Cisco Certifications, assisted educational institutions outfit their learning environments and boosted countless businesses that want to get their staff trained.  We work just about around-the-clock to provide the support you need if you have any questions.  So, even if it is beyond business hours, always feel free to shoot us an email!  You may surprised at how fast we can get a detailed response back to you, even at the strangest of hours.  (We’re tech geeks, sleep is for the weak!). We absolutely know that all of this can get confusing, so always feel free to reach out to us via phone or email.  Our techs are always happy to help and IT geeks, just like you!

Phone:  866-950-2478 Mon-Fri 9:00AM-4:30PM

Email:  Sales@CertificationKits.com