CCNA Lab, Part 3 - What about 3640's and 2620 non-XM?

Well, I led last time with some discussion of 2500's, 261X's, and 1841's as possible options for routers in a CCNA lab. Today I'll add, at the suggestion from a couple of posts since Monday, a little discussion on 3600's, particularly 3640's, plus the 2620/2621 non-XM router line. (On a personal note, I must say I'm enjoying spending a little time blogging instead of writing books - I can spout out some ideas without as much time/review/etc, get some others to comment and collaborate, and end up with a good discussion - it's very refreshing to get some interaction as compared to the relative vacuum when writing a book. Thanks to all ya'll - take the boy out of Georgia, but can't take the Georgia out of the boy - for posting so much already this year.) This is part 3 of a series. Part 1; Part 2. First, someone had posted a suggestion that 3640's might be good options. That got me thinking that I should look at 3620's as well - 3620's, 3640's, and 3660's were all based on the same technology, supporting mostly the same network modules, and were popular to buy as medium-powered routers for production network maybe 5-7 years ago. The 3620's, like 2600 non-XM models, only support through IOS 12.3, and no further, and buying all the parts to use 3620's in a lab add up to more than the non-XM 2600's - so I'll ignore 3620's. However, the 3640's do support the current-latest IOS versions, and the cost is reasonable, so they're worth a look. 3640's are a bit larger (2 rack units) compared to the other 1 RU routers we've looked at here. 3640's have 4 network module slots, and were often used for WAN aggregation in production networks. However, the used market has lots of inventory, keeping the price down. A quick peek at EBay shows plenty for sale that also have max memory of 128M RAM and 32 M flash, at around $200. However, the 3640 chassis only has 4 network module slots, with no fixed LAN interfaces or WIC slots. Translated, you have to buy at least 1 network module, or 2, to get at least one LAN interface and one WIC slot. For example, you could get a NM-1FE2W, which include 1 FastE interface and 2 WIC slots. Once you buy the router and NM-1FE2W, you need a few serial interfaces, so you can buy the same WIC-2T that you would have bought for the 2600's or 1841's. Another posting suggested the non-XM 2620, which does have 1 built-in FE port, and supports trunking, which was a missing piece when buying the 261X non-XM routers. To be honest, I ignored 2620 non-XM's in the last post due to prior prejudice - last time I had looked a while back, the 2620's were in the $600-700 range on EBay. However, it's been a while, so I looked, and indeed the prices have fallen a lot. Like the 261X non-XM's, you only get up through 12.3 mainline IOS, but you do get trunking. To get 2620 non-XM's with max memory of 64RAM/32Flash looks like it takes around $150-200. (Note that the installation notes say you need a new 2620 boot ROM in order for the 2620 to recognize the 32M flash - it may be better to search for 2620's with all the memory and boot ROM in place. So, where does that leave us with all the options I've brought up here so far? Well, first let's summarize the cost to get a router on EBay, with at least 1 Eth or FastE interface, plus 2 serial interfaces. I did a quick browse of the prices of components, but didn't try to find the absolutely lowest possible cost.

Next, I've revised the table to list some of the main comparison points. In the table above, the green columns show routers that can run the more recent IOS versions. (Note that in Monday's post I had incorrectly stated that 2610-XM's couldn't run the latest IOS's, but that was wrong - they can run more recent IOS versions.) Next, the table below summarizes a few other points, with an additional note of support for MPLS Provider Edge (PE) functionality. MPLS PE is where most of the fun stuff happens for MPLS VPNs, so for CCNP, which I'll get to next, you'll want at least a couple of routers that support PE. (FYI, even 2610 non-XM can act as Provider (P) routers in MPLS VPN). But as I said, I'll wait until I get into the CCNP stuff before looking at it further.

So, what'd I miss this time? Let me know what else you think we should consider, and then I'll move us towards wrapping up the router pieces of this CCNA lab puzzle, and move on to switches useful for CCNA preparation. Learn more about access products from the Network World Access Routers Buyer's Guide.

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