Difference Between Cisco Packet Tracer and GNS3 (With Table)

Cisco Packet Tracer and GNS3 are two popular network management and simulation  programmes that may be used to prepare for certification tests or network feature testing without the need to purchase costly right techniques. The two pieces of software were built to satisfy distinct purposes. Amongst the both, GNS3 is an open source network simulator. 

They might sound similar but they are equipped with quite a few features which distinguish them from each other. This article focuses on the differences between both the network simulation programmes.

Cisco Packet Tracer vs GNS3

The difference between cisco packet tracer and GNS3 is that cisco packet tracer has the inbuilt OS and emulated program files as well as is optimized for easy usage and it is not an open-source program whereas GNS3 is not equipped with an in-built OS and consumes the device’s RAM as well as is not recommended for newbies. It is an open-source program.

Cisco Packet Tracer’s major goal is to assist students to understand networking fundamentals via practical learning experience while also developing Cisco-specific abilities. This program cannot upgrade existing routers or switches because the protocols are implemented solely in software. Surprisingly, this utility includes not only Cisco equipment but also a wide range of other network equipment. Although it is not an open-source program, it is still widely used because of its user interface and the vast range of functions.

GNS3 on the other hand is a network emulator that uses Dynamips and QEMU to run genuine IOS images, virtual machines, and other network-related applications. The amount of resources (CPU / RAM) available on the PC for executing the lab’s simulated IOS images and virtual machines for clients & servers simulation is GNS3’s primary constraint. GNS3 will typically be more feature-rich than PT’s (Packet Tracer) emulator because it boots genuine IOS images. In GNS3, you may also use additional Virtual servers to connect with the routers, but in PT, the “hosts” only enable ping testing as well as DNS/DHCP configuration.

Comparison Table Between Cisco Packet Tracer and GNS3

Parameters of ComparisonCisco Packet TracerGNS3
Connectivity RangeIt enables the use of CLI (command line interface) on switches, routers, and servers, as well as the addition of edge nodes such as voice phones, laptops, and PCs.It allows users to access the operating system of routers, but not switches or other types of end user devices.
RAM ConsumptionIt does not use up any of the device’s RAM and is more lightweight.It uses up all of the device’s RAM. Each router is expected to use about 512 MB of RAM.
IOS Images and FeaturesIt uses the same Cisco IOS images as a real-time Cisco router and responds in the same way. It provides a simulated IOS with limited functionality based on incomplete characteristics.It uses the same Cisco IOS images as a real-time Cisco router and responds in the same way. It provides a simulated IOS with limited functionality based on incomplete characteristics.
Internet Gen SupportIt’s emulated with 3G/4G capabilities.There are no 3G/4G support features simulated.
Use of Catalyst SwitchesThis cross-platform graphical simulation tool includes simulated catalyst switches.In this VPS hosting emulator, there are no Catalyst Switches.

What is Cisco Packet Tracer?

Cisco Packet Tracer is a communication system teaching and learning application that provides a unique blend of productive environment and visualization experiences, evaluation, activity authoring capabilities, multi-user collaboration, and challenges facing. Packet Tracer’s improved strategies will aid students and instructors in collaborating, solving issues, and learning ideas.

The main highlight of the Cisco Packet Tracer is that it gives a consistent simulation experience, and visualization learning environment to augment classroom equipment, including the ability to observe internal operations that are typically concealed on real devices in real-time. It also allows for several co-operations, real-time collaboration, and a competitive environment for dynamic learning and networking.

Before deploying any protocol, engineers want to test it using Cisco Packet Tracer. Engineers that want to deploy any modification in the supply chain prefer to utilize Cisco Packet Tracer to test the modifications first and then deploy if and only if everything works as planned. Engineers will be able to add and delete virtual networks more easily as a result of this.
The minimum requirements for running Cisco Packet Tracer are:

  1. For 64 bit: A computer with one of the following operating systems: Microsoft Windows 8.1, 10 (64bit), Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (64bit), or macOS 10.14 or newer. Equipped with amd64(x86-64) CPU, 4GB of free RAM as well as at least 1.4GB of hard disk space.
  2. For 32 bit: Computer with one of the following operating systems: Microsoft Windows 8.1, 10 (32bit) OS, x86 compatible intel or AMD CPU, 2GB of RAM, and minimum disk space of 1.4GB.

What is GNS3?

GNS3 the abbreviation of Graphical network Simulator-3 is an open-source software used for simulation of complicated networks and processing them in real-time. All of this is accomplished without the need for network gear along with networking equipment. 

For computer technicians and network engineers, administrators, and those preparing for Cisco CCNA, CCNP, and CCIE certifications, as well as Juniper JNCIA certifications, GNS3 is a perfect option or addition to actual labs. Also included is open-source networking.  

It may also be used to try out new features or test settings before they are deployed on actual devices. Their software provides interesting capabilities such as connecting your virtual network to real-world networks and utilizing Wireshark to collect packets.

GNS3 employs the following emulators to run the exact same operating systems as in real networks in order to give full and realistic simulations:

  1. Dynamips, A well-known Cisco IOS emulator.
  2. Qemu is a generic open-source emulator that runs Cisco ASA, PIX, and IPS.
  3. Virtualbox runs desktop and server operating systems and JunOS.

Main Differences Between Cisco Packet Tracer and GNS3

  1. Cisco Packet Tracer is not an open-source free-to-use software whereas GNS3 is open-source.
  2. Packet Tracer does not provide ASDM ASA configuration support but it is accessible for GMS3 users.
  3. Packet Tracer supports 3rd and 4th generation internet but GNS3 doesn’t support any of them.
  4. Cisco Packet Tracer does not consume the virtual or physical RAM of the computer but GMS3 requires that.
  5. ASDM and ASA is not supported in Packet Tracer whereas it is supported in GSM3.


There are just a few names that have risen to the level of Cisco Packet Tracer and GNS3 when it comes to cross-platform-based simulation software. Both programs may appear identical to the casual observer, thus a comparison of GNS3 and Cisco Packet Tracer can be confusing. There are numerous aspects that distinguish both cross-platform network simulator programs from each other.

Both programs simulate real-world network devices, computers, and network connections to offer us a basic solution of what happens in real life. They allow us to experiment with Cisco device configurations and working parameters.


  1. https://www.netacad.com/courses/packet-tracer/faq#1
  2. https://techlustt.com/2020/05/what-is-the-difference-between-gns3-and-packet-tracer/
2D vs 3D