If you're building a Cisco certification lab I highly recommend using GNS3. You will save both time and money. You can build a number of different lab topologies depending on the exam you're preparing for. I used to build labs from routers and switches that I bought on eBay, but now that's old news. Hands on real equipment is always beneficial, but if you're looking for a versatile tool that you can use to build a number of different topologies than GNS3 is the answer.
This video covers an overview of GNS3, how to install it and how to save and load working configurations.
GNS3 is a free, open source network simulation tool you can load on your PC to run Cisco router simulations. With GNS3 you can create network lab topologies for use when studying for your Cisco certification exams (CCNA, CCNP, CCIE, etc) or to test out a configuration before deploying it. Download a number of compatible GNS3 topologies from our website and watch our videos to learn how to configure specific technologies using your GNS3 labs.