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Before You Buy

What is a server rack, and how can I tell if it will work in my setup?

Server racks are a great way to organize small spaces that require a lot of technology packed into them.  However, there are a few important things you need to keep in mind before making a purchase.  Today we will be explaining what a U is, and the differences between 2 and 4-post and open and closed server racks.  We will also be covering what minimum and maximum mounting depth mean to you.

A server rack unit, or U, is a unit of measurement used to describe the amount of equipment space a server rack has.  A U is 1.75 inches or 44.45mm high.  An 8u rack has 8 units of vertical server rack space.

Note: Equipment can be more than 1U in size.

When you purchase server rack accessories they will list their size in U’s.  Make sure the server rack has space to accommodate the accessory.

StarTech.com sells 2-post and 4-post server racks.  2-post racks take up less space but generally do not have as high of a weight capacity.

4-post server racks can be open or closed.  Open racks are more accessible than closed racks, while closed racks can be locked for security purposes.  Closed racks can include glass or mesh variations.  closed server racks are generally better at reducing equipment noise and also limit external access.  Mesh server racks provide better unmanaged airflow.

Adjustable 4-post server racks have a minimum and maximum mounting depth.  The minimum mounting depth is the shallowest you can construct it.  The maximum mounting depth is the longest measurement a product can be while still fitting in the server rack.  If the server rack is adjustable, this measurement is also the deepest it can be constructed.  Keep in mind that when you install equipment that is close to the maximum mounting depth, there will be little to no room for cable management at the back of the rack.

Server rack accessories my have their own minimum and maximum mounting depths listed on the product page under the technical specifications tab.  It is recommended that you confirm these measurements will work with your server rack.

You should consider the following things when shopping for server racks:

  • You can mount equipment on both sides of a 4-post rack, provided the combined measurements of both items are under the server rack's maximum mounting depth.
  • Decide if you want casters on your server rack, want your rack bolted to the floor, or if you want to leave it free standing.  StarTech.com offers racks that come with casters and racks that you can bolt to the floor.  StarTech.com also sells casters separately.  Casters that fit on your server rack will appear on the StarTech.com product page under accessories.