In this article we are going to cover a few pitfalls we have seen students fall into as they set out to purchase their CCNA kits. The first we are going to cover is a type of kit that some other “resellers” push that they conveniently forget to mention that it is not easily upgradeable or expandable. The second is what you may end up saving via the eBay route.
So you know how when a magician exposes to the world how other magicians trick people, all of the other magicians get mad at him for spilling the beans? Well, we are about to spill the beans and ruin if for all those companies trying to trick you into buying their not so high quality CCNA kits. You are about to learn what to look for as you shop for your CCNA lab. By the way, if we soon die by strangulation via an Ethernet cable, you’ll know why. We are marked men! If you are looking for a really cheap CCNA kit this may fit the bill. So why is these CCNA kits so cheap?
Well a little more background first. Most people immediately assume that Cisco 2600 routers are better than Cisco 2500 routers for a lab simply because the number is higher and they are a little newer. That just is not correct. The really nice thing about the 2500 series routers is that they generally come with two built in DB-60 serial ports. When you consider that you will need to purchase additional serial ports you may not find the added value you perceived at first.
The initial concern with this CCNA kit is the routers come with 32MB of DRAM and 8MB of Flash. Thus the IOS does not have enough memory to support IPv6 which is on the exam. Can you upgrade the kit to 64MB of DRAM and 16MB of Flash? Sure, but it costs $30 per router so to do it properly. That will add $90 to the cost of the CCNA kit.
Instead of using more expensive and CCNA lab standard wic-1t DB60 serial modules and DTE/DCE back to back cables, this CCNA kit saves about $110 by using a wic-1dsu-t1 which is RJ-45 for the serial module. It sounds similar, but is not the same. If you want to expand your CCNA lab with another router or two, you will not be able to simply user a multiple port serial card such as an nm-4a/s(if you want more than 2 routers connected to your central site) as it uses a DB-60 connector to connect all the routers you currently have using the wic-1dsu-t1 to a central site router. As you simply can’t mix and match DB-60 and RJ-45 serial connections. So what does this mean in regards to cost? Well, to really expand the lab the wic-1dsu-t1 modules are throw away items. So sooner or later you will probably buy the correct module. So why not do that from the start and not waste money? So just in hardware to properly build a CCNA lab kit this is skimping on $200 worth of pure hardware.
I would venture to assume that any other vendor who offers this would also agree this is not really the correct way to setup a CCNA lab. As if they did think this was the best way to approach it, why do they offer an “upgrade” to these base kits which include the extra memory, the correct serial ports and the correct cables so you can have a fully functioning lab? But after spending all that money on upgrades, there are much better combinations of equipment to give you the most bang for your buck in our opinion. We did not even include in our totals above all the extra study materials we include in our kits for free that runs $85 separately. Please read our CCNA Lab Suggestions article to get more information on how to correctly build a CCNA lab and to fully understand the pros and cons of each piece.
That said, we do offer those kits on our site just as a competitive offering as we have had a fair amount of request. Some of our clients are just really tight on cash. So we are ok with it as long as there is full disclosure as we don't want our customers having any surprises. That is why we also point it out when you review the CCNA labs that are configured in this manner.
Occasionally those looking to purchase a CCN A lab kit will say…why is your CCNA kit more expensive than what I would pay if I picked up the same Cisco router and Cisco switches on eBay from people who are just dumping them? At first glance, it may seem accurate that you can save money that way. But many times it is not and we really need to compare apples with apples. If you bear with me a minute, I will be more than happy to explain some of the pitfalls and issues.
The first issue many people can easily relate to is most eBay sellers will charge $18 to $29 to ship a single switch or router. While a majority of the kits include two to six routers or switches; well you can see those shipping fees can add up quite quickly! For a 6 unit CCNA kit you could be paying $120 to $150 just in shipping purchasing from multiple eBayers.
The second item many new students will overlook is the fact that many eBay sellers don’t include simple things like power cords, console kits or transceivers. Have you looked at how much they charge for a power cord from Staples? $9 just for a power cord. If you got a kit with six units in it…well again, that adds up quickly. Console kits? They are going to run you about $10 if ordered separately and rarely do you see them include transceivers when required at $15 each. So you can see how this can easily at $50 or more to the price of your CCNA lab kit or you are missing components you should have in your CCNA lab.
The third item you will want to consider is all the study material we include in our CCNA kits and what that is worth. Most CCNA kits do not include any sort of CCNA lab workbook. Without a CCNA lab workbook, what good is the lab? We include our professionally printed CCNA lab workbooks. You will find rampant on eBay sellers including pirated PDFs. Is that the type of vendor you want to deal with? If you are so inclined to pirate material such as that, I am sure a quick Google search will turn up a site or two with pirated PDFs and you don’t really need to have a vendor provide them for you. But in my opinion there is nothing like a real book to work from. A bunch of loose leaf pages printed on an ink jet printer is not the same paper weight, quality or as convenient. But that is not it. We also include our CCNA How & Why We Subnet Lab Workbook, our CCNA test engine, our CCNA CRAM sheet and our CCNA TCP/IP Study Poster. These are all professionally printed items that are top of the line. Individually these items run $85 and our bundled price is $59. But we include these all for free in our CCNA kits!
The forth item to consider is the customer service factor. If you have an issue with an item you get on eBay will you remember who you got it from? Will they respond to your emails three day, three weeks or three months later? We have been in business selling CCNA kits for ten years now on the Internet. We are not going anywhere! We keep a large inventory of stock to be able to address an item if it goes bad and we support our customers when they have questions on the why and how things work. Try to find an eBayer who will do that and it is priceless when you are pulling your hair out.
The fifth item to consider is our warranties. All of our products come with our standard warranty and we offer extended warranties too. With our warranty process if you have a problem, we cover the shipping back and forth. We want to make it easy for you.
The sixth item to consider is our Trade-Up program. What if you make a mistake and purchase the wrong thing and don’t figure it out for a day or a month? What do you think the eBayer’s response will be? What if you outgrow you router a year down the line? With our Trade-Up program you can trade in any item you purchased from us at full current retail value! Never have your equipment become obsolete! Now how cool is that?
The seventh thing to consider are all the cool things we have brought to the Cisco certification community. The free videos, forums, blogs, free games, free iPhone and Android apps. We do this for all of you…our customers…our friends. So if you review there are close to $200 in tangible items we include in our kits and much more in the intangibles. We truly hope you will take these items into consideration when you make your CCNA lab kit purchase and we wish you success in your Cisco certification pursuit