5 Questions to Answer Before Buying a Server Cabinet or Rack
Posted by Steve Bowman on Dec 16th 2022
A large office might keep its computer servers in a data center while a smaller one can get by with an IT closet. But there is one thing most offices have in common: Their servers and related IT equipment are installed together in either open-frame racks or enclosed cabinets.
Server racks and cabinets hold not only computer servers but patch panels, network switches, power distribution units and other components related to the servers. They differ from other cabinets and racks in that they are strong and deep enough to accommodate larger, heavier components, such as computer servers. They are either floor-mounted on feet or on wheels, or wall-mounted.
Before buying a server rack or cabinet, you should be able to answer five questions.
Should I use a rack or a cabinet?
Whether to choose an enclosed cabinet or an open-frame rack depends mostly on how secure your equipment will be in that location. If it will be in a room that is locked or at least with some controlled access, an open-frame rack could be an economical option. But if there is any question about the security of the server room or closet, a lockable cabinet with a rugged exterior is your safest choice. Each NavePoint cabinet, from Basic Series to Professional Series, has a lockable front door and a powder-coated steel exterior over a welded frame. Clear doors are made with heat-treated, tempered glass for strength.
Also consider ease of access. Open-frame racks allow you to reach equipment a bit more quickly than do enclosed cabinets. The tradeoff is that components and cables in open frames are not as well protected from accidental bumps from the back and sides, especially in high-traffic areas.
How many rack spaces do I need?
Determine the number of devices you are planning to store in the cabinet or rack and the height of each to calculate the total number of rack units, or rack spaces, needed. One rack unit (1U) is a standard industry measurement of 1.75 inches high. Select a rack or cabinet that fits all your devices – but also includes extra space for future expansion and for rack-mount drawers you might need for storage.
NavePoint rack and cabinet capacities vary by series:
- 42U server cabinets
- Four-post open-frame racks− 9U to 45U
- Two-post open-frame racks− 6U to 45U
- Mid-depth cabinets− 12U to 24U
- Wall cabinets− 2U to 22U
- Wall-mount racks− 1U to 20U
How much rack depth do I need?
Racks and cabinets come in many depths, measuring front to back. Find out the deepest device you are going to store and add 3 inches to allow space for cables connecting in the rear.
The depths of our racks and cabinets vary by series:
- 42U server cabinets – 31.5 to 47 inches
- Four-post open-frame racks − 22 to 40 inches
- Mid-depth cabinets − all 33 inches
- Wall cabinets − 12 to 25.5 inches
- Wall-mount racks − up to 24.8 inches
- Two-post open-frame racks − unlimited depth (but no rear support)
What weight capacity do I need?
First determine the total weight of all the components that will go in your rack or cabinet, then select the model that will accommodate that weight. Most NavePoint cabinets have weight capacities that will far exceed what you might need. For instance, our rock-solid 42U server cabinets hold up to 3,000 pounds, which comes out to 71 pounds per rack space – more than enough even for heavy server equipment. The vast majority of our cabinets hold at least 800 pounds and half hold at least 1,300 pounds.
Following are the weight capacities of our cabinets and racks:
- 42U server cabinets – up to 3,000 pounds
- Four-post open-frame racks – 132 to 1,322 pounds
- Mid-depth cabinets – up to 1,000 pounds
- Two-post open-frame racks – 330 to 881 pounds
- Wall cabinets – 110 to 200 pounds
- Wall-mount racks − 44 to 330 pounds
How much ventilation do I need?
Open-frame racks are hard to beat for keeping your network components cool. But enclosed server cabinets feature both perforated doors and side panels for natural ventilation, and either built-in fans or openings to support separately purchased fans.
All NavePoint cabinets have vents and/or the following features to keep equipment cool:
- Wall cabinets – two electric fans in top panel
- Mid-depth cabinets – two top openings for fans to be installed
- 42U server cabinets – abundant room for rack-mount fans
NavePoint offers a variety of fans to be mounted in server cabinets. Some fit in ports on the cabinet exterior, and others are rack-mount.
NavePoint wants to be your source for a wide selection of server cabinets and racks. Do not forget that most of our products are in-stock and available with FREE standard same-day shipping. If you have product questions or need recommendations, contact our U.S.-based team of experts at 1-866-308-2158 or email us.