The CCNP SWITCH Lab is built off the foundation of the CCNA R&S lab. Most of the lab work  can be done with the old 2950 switches from the CCNA. Here is my input on finding the right hardware. I should note that these recommendations are based on my experience and outcomes.

Lets start with all the technologies that you must master for the CCNP Switch

SDM templates, CDP, LLDP, VLANS, Trunking, DTP, VTP, STP, Etherchannels, SPAN, Stackwise, Port security, DHCP snooping, storm control, private VLANs, layer 2 switch security, AAA with TACACS and RADIUS, HSRP, VRRP, GLBP

Knowing this, lets look at some cost effective hardware that you can use to work with all these technologies for the test.

So from my research,  here are my recommendations :

Distribution Switches:

3550 Seriers-

untitledThis is the best option for those with a small budget. The 3550’s are end of life with Cisco which makes the cost on these pretty low. You can get them with Power over Ethernet (PoE) to also help with learning about how to configure access ports for wireless access points. All your exam objectives can be down with this switch. Also the small 1u form factor is small enough for your starter rack.

The upgrade and still relatively cost effective is the 3560 switch. These switches are still in support with Cisco until 2021.

Access Switches:

Catalyst 2960

This is the best option for those with a small budget. If you got this switch for your CCNA studies, then you are already set!

Image result for cisco 2960 switch

I recommend getting 2 of each. The SWITCH Lab uses a collapsed core model for the entire lab book.

2 core/distribution and 2 access

Here are some of the other items you need to get up and running:


Ethernet (straight through & cross over) cables and a console cable.

Ethernet cables

You should also invest in the Cisco lab workbook.

CCNP SWITCH Lab Manual, 2nd Edition

As always do you research! Now that you have some experience under your belt, you are now re-enforcing your ability to research and procure the best hardware for you needs!

Places I buy equipment:



Cables and kits




3 x 2950’s  24Port Switches

2 x 3550 24 FE Ports, 2 GE Port Switches

Not in use:

2 x 2610 Routers with 2 WIC 1T serial cards

2 x 2610 XM Routers with 2 WIC-1T cards

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