I just wanted to post a couple pictures of my current lab setup. I was working with physical routers, but I decided to move to Dynamips/Dynagen to save money and time. I HIGHLY recommend to anybody that is looking to study for the CCNA and especially higher level-certifications to invest the time and money in a dedicated Dynamips/Dynagen server, such as the one I have pictured below. It is a Dell Poweredge 2650 server that I grabbed off Ebay for oh, probably 150$ a couple years back. It has been largely unused since I bought it, and I even bought 4x74GB SCSI hard drives for it a while back as well. The problem with it is that is it VERY LOUD, and having this in my living room here has been a royal pain.
The reason I put it here in the first place was primarily because remote desktop into Ubuntu is painfully slow, even over a gigabit connection. I have not tried it with my gigabit Pfsense router to see if this improves the connection, but I plan to in the future. It would probably help to put a PCI video-card into the poweredge as well, but the object here is to save money.
The plan is to run a Terminal Server inside Dynamips, ssh into Ubuntu, and then Telnet into the Terminal server. May sound like an overly-complicated way to do things, but it is working very well so far. I worked on it about 4 hours yesterday and I have only to tweak the terminal server and everything should be working perfectly. Then I can move the beast into the closet and give my ears a break!
Note: I HIGHLY recommend you take the time and effort to set up Dynagen/Dynamips WITHOUT GNS3, AND on a Linux Distribution. I was working with GNS3 over Packet Tracer to take advantage of some of the extra functionality, but GNS3 just kept crashing on me! Now that I have this running, on Ubuntu (much less resource intensive then Windows): http://youtu.be/-6SB-F_5Ce0 and everything is stable and barely touching the Poweredge 2650 (2x Intel Single cores w/Hyperthreading and 4gb RAM). You could build a small desktop with this kind of power for probably less then 400-500$.