Set up Cisco Lab

I would like to start learning Cisco routers so that I can get my CCNA.
What router(s) should I buy to practice with?  I hav eread about 2501 and 2503.  I found what i think is a deal on a 2507 which the seller says is better.

Also what are some good books to use for the test and home lab?

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MarkDozierConnect With a Mentor Commented:
While you are shopping for your gear and what to do some live labs on 2501 routers take a look at They have 2 router pods for you to use at no cost. Get the instructions from the web site.

I just setup my CCNP lab at home. Here is what I am using.
4700 route - 4 serial, 6 ehternet, 6 ISDN  memory is maxed out $200.00
2501 - 2 seiral, 1 Aux for ehternet  16/16 memory $51.00 (76.00 including s/h from ebay)
2514 - 2 seiral, 2 ethernet 16/16 memory. $125.00
2900 series XL switch $200.00
4 serial cables
2  AUI's to attached to the AUX ports for ehternet on the 2500 series.
(4) 6 foot patch cables
(2) cross over cables.
(1 or 2) console cables to connect the PC to the router for consoling into the router.
For CCNA if you can afford it buy TWO of the 2600 series routers ($400.00 - 600.00 each)
 Fixed or moduleler interfaces will be good. you want at least 2 serial interface and 1 or 2 ehternet. make sure it has at least 16/16 for memory and they have tested it or have a DOA policy.
For a switch 2900 XL or 2950T (300 - 600 each) for 24 port switch..

A low cost alternatrive is to use 2501's and spend the money for the 2900 or 2950T switch.
Be very careful when reading the description becuase several of the 2900 series switch use the Catalsyt O/S and others the IOS. the current tests are written to the IOS version 12.2 of the IOS so that is what you need on the routers and switches. That way you only have to learn on command structure.

You shoudl be paying for the 2501 with 16 meg flash/16 meg RAM $50 - 75 each.
Do not accept anything with less then 16/16 and do not bid on ebay if it does not have a statement saying it was tested and has at least 12.2 version of the IOS.
Withour the memory and the 12.2 IOS you will be lacking in certain skills that the new CCNA test requries. It is a very tough test.

Do not waste your time witht he 2507 it is not what you need.
Generally the 250x are all about the same guts, with different combinations of fixed/modular interfaces.  A 2507 is "better" IFF the interfaces it comes with are what you need.

Usual recommendations for CCNA practice are to look at the 827/837, or prowl eBay for 16xx, 17xx and 25xx models used.  A 2507 is certainly not out of the question, but it's a bit of an odd duck.  See

for details.

just remember that the 16-port hub is exactly that, a HUB. This means that you won't be able to do anything like VLAN's or other switch functionality on it.
stewartjeAuthor Commented:
thanks for the advice.  I bought one 2501 with all the cables (hopefully) I need.  I will buy more as I find good deals.  I plan to open this question  up again but for now the answer by MarkDozier was a big help.

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