HomeLab Network Gear for cheap

OhNoItSJoe

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Apr 16, 2021
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Hello guys.
My name is Joe and I am a sys Admin from Berlin.
I'm looking for some cheap but good switches for my HomeLab. Since I built my smart home with home assistant, I'm looking for something that is VLAN capable, so I'm looking for a layer 3 switch.
Unfortunately I need 3 switches at least, but they don't need more than 8 port each. The more the better tho.
I am also looking for some decent Access Points, too.
I already looked into some of the ubiquiti unifi stuff, but most of the products don't seem to support VLAN
I have no problem with buying used, I just don't know what I should look for.
If you have any recommendations or other ideas (or other forum posts) i would be glad if you can help me out
 

pricklypunter

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Nov 10, 2015
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As the story goes...Nobody ever got fired for buying HP or Cisco :)

Depending on your needs, the 24port Cisco 3560G's would likely do you, or HP's 2910's, 1920's etc. I also like Cisco AP's, built like tanks. Sure, the older ones a few gen's back are being outperformed by the new kids on the block, but they are as reliable as the day is long and can be had for reasonable money. If you are planning on running a couple of AP's, maybe a camera or 2 etc, look for POE Switch variants within the same family and stick one of those in the mix :)
 

OhNoItSJoe

New Member
Apr 16, 2021
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The Cisco one doesn't look too bad!
But I forgot to add that the switches shouldn't be too loud :D
If they can be modded to be silent (i.e. exchanging the stock fans with noctua ones) that would also be an option.

In the end it doesn't matter that much, but what is easier to get started with, HP or Cisco?
I didn't do much networking at my job, yet, this is also one of the reasons I want nice network hardware.

Thanks in advance
Joe
 

OhNoItSJoe

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Apr 16, 2021
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PS: I would also need a router, wouldn't I? What would you recommend for that? Running a pfSense on my Server or get a dedicated one?
 

pricklypunter

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Nov 10, 2015
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I would say running a dedicated Router would be your best bet, especially until you get a handle on the networking concepts, both Switching and Routing and can implement the various protocols and troubleshoot them. It's easy enough to just hard reset physical boxes and start with a blank sheet if things go badly with your configuration. Apart from that, you'll learn way more, once you get into and start understanding how Routing Protocols work.

I personally like the smaller Cisco ISR Routers, maybe something from the 1900 series if you're going with FTTH from your ISP, but for anything less than Fiber, something from the 800, 1800 or 2800 platforms would probably do you. That is, if you want an enterprise grade Router.

If you were to use PFSense as your main Router, and there's no reason that you can't, then at least run that on a separate PC initially, rather than running it as a VM on an "All in One" type setup, because if things go wrong with your configuration, or it hangs for some other reason, you're hooped as far as freely accessing any other VM's on the box or getting to the Internet for help. In either case, you'll still need something to act as a bridge onto your ISP's network, be that an ONT, Modem, Gateway device etc, if you plan on having Internet access for your setup.

Cisco Switches, in fact most Switches, run fans hard only when being fairly heavily taxed. I run a bunch of Cisco Switches at home and for work and rarely hear them, beyond initial startup and the odd time I'm blasting data through them. There are also some fanless Switches around as well, like the small 12 port Juniper EX2300 series that might do you, if you can find them cheap enough.

Either way I don't recommend swapping out and doing fan mods to Switches, because whatever you do to quieten them down, it will always impact on the overall running temperature, at the least shortening the life of critical components, or actually causing them to fail in short order.

I would say Cisco is probably easier to start out with, just simply because of the massive amount of support available on the web, HP is similar but with much less of a fan club to get help from and Juniper not so much, but there are lots of folks using them. Try not to get hung up on all the acronyms and buzz words, focus your study on the concepts and protocols and troubleshooting of them, because no matter what a manufacturer may call something or refer to something as, its all standards based and each run the same protocols, only how you go about configuring them is differently implemented in the OS :)
 
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legopc

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Nov 2, 2014
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I confer with the statements about Cisco. If you are looking for a couple of switches look for something in the neighborhood of 3560x or 3750x for l3. They are becoming dirt cheap, are super reliable, quiet, and do everything you need them to do. They also come in PoE or PoE+ and sometimes even with 10g. They are good cheap switches and certainly if you want them in a homelab that you can use to learn certain concepts in practice.
 

gregsachs

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Aug 14, 2018
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Hello guys.
My name is Joe and I am a sys Admin from Berlin.
I'm looking for some cheap but good switches for my HomeLab. Since I built my smart home with home assistant, I'm looking for something that is VLAN capable, so I'm looking for a layer 3 switch.
Unfortunately I need 3 switches at least, but they don't need more than 8 port each. The more the better tho.
I am also looking for some decent Access Points, too.
I already looked into some of the ubiquiti unifi stuff, but most of the products don't seem to support VLAN
I have no problem with buying used, I just don't know what I should look for.
If you have any recommendations or other ideas (or other forum posts) i would be glad if you can help me out
Unifi stuff absolutely supports VLAN, I have a USG-4->ICX6450->multiple accesspoints running VLANs. Each SSID can have an assigned VLAN.
Not trying to push you to unifi, but it does do VLAN, and the little Flex-Mini switch at $29 is a steal for a POE powered 5 port managed switch.
 

RTM

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Jan 26, 2014
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Don't the Cisco's require a subscription to get updates?

If access to updates is important, it may be more desirable to go with a vendor/product line that does not require a subscription, like Cisco's small business line (SG350 and maybe SG250) or HPE/Aruba 1930 (AFAIK don't require a sub).

I guess someone should also mention that the Brocade/Ruckus switches are also quite popular here, you (OP) should look into this thread:

Unifi stuff absolutely supports VLAN, I have a USG-4->ICX6450->multiple accesspoints running VLANs. Each SSID can have an assigned VLAN.
Not trying to push you to unifi, but it does do VLAN, and the little Flex-Mini switch at $29 is a steal for a POE powered 5 port managed switch.
I assume what he means by VLAN capable is support for routing between VLANs, as he mentions he is looking for a L3 switch.
It is my understanding that not all unifi switches do L3, so perhaps that explains his reason for not looking further into unifi gear.
 
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