In order to help more easily answer the questions members most often have regarding Equipment and books for CCNA study, I thought I would start a consolidated thread here of what people who have taken and passed the CCNA recommend…to begin with, I’ll start by summarizing what I think works well and I encourage others to share any differing opinions or experiences.
Cisco Press Exam Guides by Wendell Odom – If I could only buy one set of books to study for CCNA with, this would be they.
Sybex Book by Todd Lammle – A very good second source for study with some good real life tidbits.
Here I must defer to the great Wendell Odom himself and the awesome posts he make on networkworld.com regarding lab configurations for CCNA. He even lists different price ranges – http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/24916
As far as actually buying the hardware, I think most of us have used either ebay, www.ciscokits.com , or some combination.
This seems to be a rather controversial topic for some. I personally recommend them for people who do not plan on continuing past the CCNA or aren’t sure since they tend to turn out cheaper than buying a whole lab and do give you hand’s on time with the IOS. However, they are not a full replacement for practice with real hardware and most students planning on going on to CCNP and beyond will actually save money in the long run since they can use most of the equipment they buy for CCNA down the road. If you do go the sim route, I would have to say there are 2 options that I have tried and really liked.
Boson Netsim – This is not as full-featured as the real thing, but does include some good labs
Dynamips/GNS3 – This is a sim that uses the actual IOS images…the downside is that it only works to emulate routers and it probably is best for those with some previous Cisco experience. The upside is that it is free.
There are too many helpful ones to make a full list here and most are in webschool if you do a search for CCNA. Worth mentioning, though, is that the Cisco website itself has a pretty good study area complete with games.
I hope this helps those headed for their CCNA…it really is a very rewarding certification to go for and can really get your resume more attention. Good luck and be sure to share your experiences with different study materials as well!