VCAP-DCA Lab Talk Part 3: Homelab Physical Networking

It’s been a real long time since I wrote one of these posts concerning home labs. I’ve been using work labs for a while now but need to start working on the gathering rust at home too. I’ve kind of neglected the homelab of late but just did a refurb on the office so now it’s a sweet place to wile away the witching hours geeking it out.


Last time I wrote a blog on this topic I was enjoying  home networking nirvana. Everything was going swimmingly until the black magic hit. I’ve been using TP-LINK WPA-281 wireless extenders in the house for both wired and wireless (repeated) extension. I’ve run into some problems probably related to the size of the house or the way it’s wired.

I actually really like a lot of the TP-LINK stuff. It’s really easy to configure and feature-rich and in general it does work. Don’t let my experience put you off but it’s probably more likely to be suited to smaller houses (or at least not the larger ones with brick walls throughout).

I’ve been seeing intermittent network disconnects on the Mac – back to my login prompt – with “No Network Accounts Available”. It crashes my apps which is not good.

So it’s time for a wired solution. I didn’t realise that my electrician (who I thought wired the house with phone cable) wired the house with Cat5E but just didn’t connect RJ-45 faceplates. So now it’s time for a bit of crimping and rooting around.

I need to consider getting a decent network switch that supports VLANs, Layer 3 routing  and some other stuff that allows it to more closely mimic a proper network.

Community Power as usual

I really hate reinventing the wheel. It’s great to do your homework  but sometimes there’s no point when there’s a huge support network out there who’ve probably tested every model imaginable. So I put out the request for help and got some great options back.

I’d like to thanks my community comrades for some great  suggestions and problem solving. Follow these guys – you never know when you might need help, and they might even follow you back 🙂 Also check out their blogs.

  • Joe Silvagi @VMPrime
  • Mads Fog @hazenet
  • Manfred Hofer (Shouldn’t he take over The Hof from David Hasselhoff ?) …..@Fred_vbrain
  • Bobby Stampfle @BobbyFantast1c
  • Todd Simmons @trainingrev
  • Gareth Hogarth @viGareth
  • Craig Waters @cswaters1

The options proposed:


Joe proposed the HP Procurve 2824. Check out the specs here:

I checked it out on and it’s probably likely to cost anything from €80 to €180.

It supports layer3. VLANs, Gig speed and LACP. That’s a pretty good price for a Layer-3 switch.

Gareth suggested the following HP switch:

A good model of this one will likely come in around €200+.


Next there was a couple of Cisco options thanks for Manfred and Mads. The SG200-26 and SG300-28. Both support VLANs, as well as LACP and are very quiet.

For the SG200 this is a Layer-2 switch only so no inter VLAN routing.

You could probably use a Vyatta router or equivalent as a VM if you like, although it’s obviously best to use an external network device if you can rather than have your router inside the virtual infrastructure. This one is likely to cost anything around €200 for the 20+ port version.

You can move up to the 300 series which a few of the guys recommended and I’ve heard good things about from other people on Twitter, and at a price tag of about €300 minimum this will be a better buy than the 200 series.

Finally on the Cisco front Todd proposed a 2960G for access layer and a 3560G for Layer-3.

This will probably come in just under €200.

For the Layer-3 switch you can find the specs here

This one is likely to cost €250ish. So you can have separate physical Access and Aggregation layers for about €400 which is also not a bad option.


Gareth came up with a really good option. The Powerconnect 6224 which is also a full Layer-3 switch and comes in on Ebay starting at €250 but more likely to €350-400.

Again a really capable switch. I do like Dell switches – much underrated like a lot of their equipment – especially Dell servers.

UPDATE: Microtik Cloud Switch

Thanks to Dmitry who has suggested the following Microtik switch in the comments. It looks like a really great option at a great price. You can get these at €140 on Ebay which is an awesome price for a full featured Layer 3 switch. This could be a popular one !

Check out the specs here:

Mikrotik Cloud Router Switch CRS125-24G-1S-RM


Here are some good options. For me you need LACP, VLANs, Layer-3 support (or two devices), possibly priority tagging using 802.1p but aside from that it’s up to your own individual taste.

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VCAP-DCA Lab Talk Part 3: Homelab Physical Networking

5 thoughts on “VCAP-DCA Lab Talk Part 3: Homelab Physical Networking

    1. Thanks a million for the additional info Gareth. Thats way interesting. The main reason for the post is that I have two nested systems at home so I’ve never really had to worry.

  1. Hi Paul!
    I can recommend to consider Mikrotik devices such CRS125-24G-1S-RM. It’s fully supported L3 switch with great potential.

  2. I would recommend HP Procurve 1810G-24 or even the 8 port version 1810G-8 – cheap and cheerful managed GigE switch with some solid featured.

    Dell 6224 which you already mentioned is really good but for cheap as chips 10GbE networking if combined with U691D modules. This gives you 4 x 10GbE connections at a very low price point given prices of 10GbE switches… You could argue that Intel X520 SR2 cards can be interconnected using SFP+ cables without a switch (maximum 3 devices/servers as each card has two SFP+ ports) but that doesn’t give you uplink to the outside world so you have to rely on 1GbE for that.

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