Tripp Lite
1111 W. 35th Street
Chicago, IL 60609
+1 (773) 869-1776
+1 (773) 869-1329
presaleshelp@tripplite.com

Server Rack Buying Guide

Organize and Secure Servers and Other Network Equipment

This buying guide will help you:

  • Understand what a server rack is and its key features
  • Know the key questions to ask before selecting a rack
  • Compare the different types of server racks available
  • Find the right type, size and weight support for your application
  • Choose a server rack

Server Rack Basics

What is a server rack?
Server racks are open frames or cabinets designed for mounting, organizing and securing EIA-standard 19-inch width rack-mount IT and A/V equipment such as servers, routers, hubs, switches and audio/video components, regardless of the manufacturer. They also provide cable management and enable optimized airflow for increased operational efficiency and prolonged equipment life.

server rack cabinet
network closets
data centers
A/V and digital signage installations
industrial/factory floors

Where are server racks used?

  • Data centers
  • Server rooms
  • Network closets
  • Industrial/factory floors
  • Edge of network locations
  • Earthquake zone networks
  • A/V & digital signage installations
  • Quiet network locations
  • Classrooms

Are server racks hard to install?
No. Most racks come fully assembled and ready to accept IT equipment. Compatible designs, toolless mounting and an extensive line of rack accessories mean easy planning, fast deployment and more efficient maintenance. As long as you have a level floor or surface that is capable of bearing the combined weight of a rack and the equipment inside of it, installing a cabinet is quite simple.

server rack installation

Top Server Rack Features

Provide organization and security for critical equipment
Server racks have sturdy steel frames and locking cabinets to secure and organize up to 3,000 lbs. of 19-inch rack equipment. They provide safe homes for servers, storage, network hardware and all the indispensable devices that keep your network efficient and productive.

server rack blanking panels

Deliver efficient cooling
Most network racks feature front-to-rear airflow that supports efficient hot-aisle/cold-aisle configurations and exceed server manufacturer requirements to keep equipment operating reliably. Roof and panel fans are also available to optimize cooling efficiency.

Support diverse applications
Many server rack heights, widths, depths and other variations are available, with a wide range of configuration options so support any application.

network server rack
wall-mount rack
open frame rack
data center server rack enclosure

Makes your job easier
Most server racks have been designed to optimize installation and maintenance, and that philosophy shows in the details that make routine tasks quicker and easier, adding up to big benefits over the workday.

Features like quick-adjust mounting rails, modular side panels and toolless mounting slots for vertical PDUs and cable managers facilitate installation and configuration. Seamless compatibility with all EIA-standard 19-inch rack equipment ensures trouble-free setup.

Types of Server Racks

rack enclosures and cabinets

Tripp Lite's premium-grade floor and wall mount server racks and cabinets organize and secure IT equipment wherever it is located, from high-density data centers to the tightest of spaces at the edge of your network.

Compatible designs, tool-less mounting and an extensive line of rack accessories mean easier planning, faster deployments and more efficient maintenance.

  Patch-Depth
Patch-Depth

					Switch-Depth &amp;<br />Switch-Depth-Plus
Switch-Depth &
Switch-Depth-Plus
UPS-Depth
UPS-Depth
Server-Depth
Server-Depth
Vertical-Mount
Vertical-Mount

Features

For devices up to 13 in. deep For devices up to 20.5 in. deep For devices up to 24.5 in. deep For devices up to 32.5 in. deep For devices up to 36 in. deep
Rack Height 12U - 18U 2U - 26U 12U - 26U 12U - 18U 2U - 16U
Maximum Load Capacity Up to 250 lb [113 kg] Up to 250 lb [113 kg] Up to 250 lb [113 kg] Up to 500 lb [227 kg] Up to 400 lb [181 kg]
Hinged Back Select Models Select Models Yes Select Models No
Doors Lockable; Reversible Lockable; Reversible Lockable; Reversible Lockable; Reversible Lockable; Reversible (Select)
Mounting Rails Square and round/threaded hole Square and round/threaded hole Square and round/threaded hole Square and 12-24 threaded hole Supports M6 and 12-24 mounting
Airflow Management Ventilated side panels and door Ventilated side panels and door Ventilated side panels and door Ventilated side panels and door Vented side panels (select) and door
Built-In Cable Management Top and bottom routing ports Top and bottom routing ports Top and bottom routing ports Top and bottom routing ports Top and bottom routing ports; Side (select)
Special Features Clear acrylic window; IP20 Clear acrylic window; IP20; IP54/NEMA 12 (Select) Clear acrylic window; IP20 Side-mount (Select); IP20 Low profile; IP20
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  Shallow-Depth
Shallow-Depth
Mid-Depth
Mid-Depth
Standard-Depth
Standard-Depth
Deep
Deep
Wide
Wide
Deep and Wide
Deep and Wide

Features

For devices < 28 in. deep For devices 28 - 33.5 in. deep For devices 34 - 39.5 in. deep For devices > 40 in. deep 750 mm in width For devices > 40 in. deep; 750 mm in width
Rack Height 25U - 45U 12U - 45U 25U - 48U 14U - 48U 42U - 48U 42U - 48U
Maximum Load Capacity Up to 3000 lb [1361 kg] Up to 3000 lb [1361 kg] Up to 3000 lb [1361 kg] Up to 3000 lb [1361 kg] Up to 3000 lb [1361 kg] Up to 3000 lb [1361 kg]
Doors Lockable; Reversible Lockable; Reversible Lockable; Reversible Lockable; Reversible Lockable; Reversible Lockable; Reversible
Mounting Rails Square or 10-32 hole Square Square or 10-32 hole Square Square Square
Airflow Management Ventilated side panels and door Ventilated side panels and door Ventilated side panels and door Ventilated side panels and door Ventilated side panels and door Ventilated side panels and door
Built-In Cable Management Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Special Features IP20 IP20; IP54/NEMA 12 (Select) Clear acrylic window; IP20; IP54/NEMA 12 (Select) IP20 IP20 IP20
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  2-Post Wall-Mount
2-Post Wall-Mount
2-Post Floor-Standing
2-Post Floor-Standing
4-Post Floor-Standing
4-Post Floor-Standing
Rack Height 12U - 22U 12U - 45U 12U - 58U
Maximum Load Capacity Up to 200 lb [91 kg] Up to 800 lb [363 kg] Up to 3000 lb [1361 kg]
Mounting Rails Threaded 12-24 hole Square or threaded 12-24 hole Square or threaded 12-24 hole
Special Features Expandable 8U/12U/22U (select models) Heavy-duty casters (select models)
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  Quiet Racks
Quiet Racks
Seismic-Certified Racks
Seismic-Certified Racks
NEMA 12 (IP54) For Harsh Environments
NEMA 12 (IP54) For Harsh Environments
Special Features Specifically designed to minimize external acoustic levels caused by network equipment. Special foam sound-dampening baffles built into doors and side panels reduce acoustic levels by as much as 28 decibels. Ideal for small offices, recording studios, retail applications, classrooms and other areas where you need equipment to be secure, organized and quiet. Designed and tested to meet Telcordia GR-63-CORE Network Equipment & Building Systems (NEBS) requirements for Zone 4 Seismic Earthquake Environments. Ideal for secure, high-density server and networking applications in IT environments that are earthquake-prone or subject to regular vibrations, such as an airport or factory. Built with an IP54 (NEMA 12) protection rating and certified to protect equipment against dirt, dust, lint, oil, drips and splashes. Ideal for harsh, dirty work environments with limited floor space, such as factories, construction areas, utility plants, power stations, transportation terminals, distribution hubs and warehouses.
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Vertical Managers
Vertical Managers

Installs inside your rack enclosure to organize cabling and/or provide additional 0U mounting of PDUs and other devices and accessories with toolless mounting keyhole slots.

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Horizontal Managers
Horizontal Managers

Prevents messy cable clutter by supporting and organizing cabling, while routing it from either side of the rack to interior connections.

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Cable Trays
Cable Trays

Cuts down on cable clutter and stressed connections by safely supporting and segregating the equipment cabling from either side of the rack to interior connections.

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Ladders
Ladders

Eliminates cable stress by organizing cabling across the top of your rack, neatly bundling it across an aisle or within a row of bayed racks.

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Troughs
Troughs

Organizes and safely routes cabling across the top of a rack enclosure, creating a dedicated path that helps eliminate cable stress.

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Rail/Hardware Kits
Rail/Hardware Kits

Hardware lets you mount cable ladders above your rack enclosures and extend them horizontally or vertically to maximize space.

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Raceways
Raceways

Securely conceals your network or other cabling, protects it from damage, and keeps it neat and organized outside of walls.

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Cable Ties
Cable Ties

Must-have accessory for keeping bundles of cables manageable.

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J-Hooks
J-Hooks

Recommended for setting up network or digital signage installations that require cabling to run along walls and ceilings, above drop ceilings or through inner duct systems for long distances.

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Airflow Management
Airflow Management

Blanking panels, brush strips, etc. improve cooling efficiency by blocking unwanted airflow and preventing recirculation.

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Duct Kit
Duct Kit

Directs warm air away from your rack equipment or cool air directly toward it to improve your cabinet's airflow and keep your equipment at peak levels.

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Mounting Accessories
Mounting Accessories

Hardware and other accessories for mounting rack equipment or managing cabling in your data center.

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Mounting Brackets
Mounting Brackets

Brackets and rack extensions for your KVM, patch panels and DIN rails.

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Rack Shelves
Rack Shelves

Shelves and locking draws for convenient storage of laptops, towers, tools, cables, etc.

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Rack-Mount Kits
Rack-Mount Kits

Provides extra support for your KVM, UPS system or other rack equipment.

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Security
Security

Extra locks and panels to protect your rack equipment from damage, tampering or theft.

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How to Choose a Server Rack: Key Questions to Ask

When selecting a server rack, there are some key questions that need to be answered.

What size of rack do you need?

1 rack unit

The height of a rack and the height of equipment in it is expressed in "rack units" (a rack unit is 1.75 inches, or 44.45mm). The actual height of a 42U rack is therefore 42 x 1.75 = 73.5 inches. A 2U server would occupy two of the available 42 rack units.

Some racks cabinets come pre-assembled and can be rolled through standard 7-ft. (2.13m) commercial doorways. This allows network equipment to be racked, cabled and rolled into place in a server room for easy installation.

Wall-mount racks offer secure organization for standard 19-inch rack equipment and can support depths up to 36 inches in locations with limited floor space. Most include clear acrylic windows that allow you to monitor equipment without unlocking rack doors.

Open-frame, low-profile and vertical-mount racks are also available to accommodate unique network equipment sizes in locations where security is not a priority and space is limited.

Be sure to make an accurate assessment of the amount of rack space you currently need, and allow for future growth as your network expands.

What is the maximum rack depth required?
Rack depth is dictated by the deepest device you want to install. Determine the maximum rack depth required to mount your equipment in a floor-standing or wall-mount rack enclosure cabinet.

Floor-Standing Rack Depth Designations

Rack Depth (in.) Ideal for...
Shallow 27 A/V equipment, limited space
Mid-depth 31 Limited space
Standard 37 Servers
Deep 42 Extra cables, improved airflow

Wall-Mount Rack Depth Designations

Rack Depth (in.) Ideal for...
Patch-depth < 16 Patch panels
Switch-depth 16 - 23.99 Switches
UPS-depth 24 - 31.99 UPS systems
Server-depth > 32 Servers

See this convenient Rack Advisor Tool to find a rack that can accommodate the depth and weight of a UPS system, servers and switches it powers.

Can the rack handle the weight of your equipment?
A fully populated rack can weigh upwards of 3,000 lbs. Make sure that the capacity of the rack is greater than the total weight of the equipment being mounted.

Other Features to Consider

Shock pallet packaging
Shock pallet racks feature additional reinforcement and shock-absorbing material for safely re-shipping loaded racks to remote sites.

Expansion
Expansion models can be attached or “bayed” together easily to form rows, which is ideal for hot-aisle/cold-aisle cooling techniques.

Disassembled shipping
Racks ship fully assembled for easy installation. However, sometimes doorways or tight spaces cannot accommodate fully assembled racks, so knockdown models ship disassembled for easier transportation.

Heat removal
Thermal Duct Rack Enclosures directly connect to a facility's exhaust system to remove hot air not only from the rack but from the entire room.

Co-location
Some data center sites host multiple users in a single Rack Cabinet. Co-location models have two separate compartments to allow secure access to the correct users.

TAA-compliance
GSA schedule purchases and other government contracts require products that comply with the Trade Agreement Act (TAA).

PCI-compliance
The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard requires that all companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment.

Extra width
In addition to extended-depth racks, extra-wide models provide extra space for cables and improved airflow.

Seismic protection
Seismic enclosures have a rugged welded construction and are tested to Seismic Zone 4 standards, making them ideal for sites that are earthquake-prone or are subject to regular vibration, such as an airport or factory. Most seismic racks are designed and tested to meet Telcordia GR-63-CORE Network Equipment & Building Systems (NEBS) requirements for Zone 4 seismic earthquake environments.

Sound Suppression
Quiet server racks are also available to muffle loud network equipment for a less stressful work environment. These acoustic server racks are specifically designed to minimize external acoustic levels caused by network equipment. Less noise makes for a calmer work environment that encourages productivity.

Cable management and accessories
Shelves, mounting rails, stabilization, cooling, patch panels, hardware kits, casters, cable ducts and troughs enable custom installations to accommodate any space limitation or expansion requirement.

Hinged back
Select rack cabinets swing away from the wall on a sturdy hinge, allowing easy access to equipment and cabling during installation and maintenance.

Products Mentioned in this Article

sr42ub 42U rack cabinet

Floor-Standing Enclosures

srw12u wall-mount rack enclosure

Wall-Mount Racks

sr4post25 4-post open frame rack

Open-Frame Racks

srw12u13g very low-profile patch-depth wall-mount rack enclosure cabinet

Low-Profile Racks

srwf6u vertical-mount wall-mount rack enclosure cabinet

Vertical Mount Racks

srq24u sound proof rack enclosure

Racks with Sound Suppression

sr42ubeis enclosure cabinet for harsh environments

Racks for Harsh Environments

sr42ubz4 seismic-certified rack

Racks for Earthquake Zones

Server Rack Glossary of Terms

A

All-Metal Frame
Server racks constructed from heavy-duty, all-metal steel frames with a durable black powder-coated finish that are virtually indestructible.

C

Cable Management
Shelves, mounting rails, stabilization, cooling, patch panels, hardware kits, casters, cable ducts and troughs enable custom installations to accommodate any space limitation or expansion requirement.
Cable Routing
Convenient ports with removable covers allow cable routing through top and bottom of rack units.
Clear Acrylic Window
Acrylic windows allow you to monitor equipment without unlocking rack doors.
Co-Location
Some data center sites host multiple users in a single rack cabinet. Co-location racks have two separate compartments to allow secure access to the correct users.

E

Expansion Rack
Expansion racks can be attached or “bayed” together easily to form rows, which is ideal for hot-aisle/cold-aisle cooling techniques.
Extra Width Rack
Extra wide racks provide extra width space for additional cables and improved airflow.

F

Front-to-Rear Airflow
Most racks feature front-to-rear airflow that supports efficient hot-aisle/cold-aisle configurations and exceed server manufacturer requirements to keep equipment operating reliably.

H

Heat Removal
Thermal duct rack enclosures directly connect to a facility's exhaust system to remove hot air not only from the rack but from the entire room.
Hinged Back
Select rack cabinets swing away from the wall on a sturdy hinge, allowing easy access to equipment and cabling during installation and maintenance.

K

Knockdown Rack
Racks ship fully assembled for easy installation. However, sometimes doorways or tight spaces cannot accommodate fully assembled racks, so knockdown models ship disassembled for easier transportation.

L

Locking Cabinet
Rack locking cabinets secure and organize standard 19 in. rack equipment. They provide security for servers, routers, hubs, UPS systems and other essential network equipment.

N

Network Equipment-Building System (NEBS)
NEBS (Network Equipment-Building System) describes the environment of a typical United States RBOC Central Office. NEBS is the most common set of safety, spatial and environmental design guidelines applied to telecommunications equipment in the United States. It is an industry requirement, but not a legal requirement.

O

Open-Frame Rack
Expandable open-frame racks store 8U, 12U or 22U of 19-inch rack equipment up to 18 inches deep in locations with limited floor space where a locked enclosure is not required. Allows easy access to equipment and cabling.

P

Patch-Depth
Racks specifically designed to accommodate patch panel depths up to 13 inches.
PCI and PCI DSS-Compliant
The Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security standard requires that all companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. PCI-compliant racks provide physical equipment and media security required for PCI DSS compliance.

Q

Quiet Rack
Racks specifically designed to minimize external acoustic levels caused by network equipment. Special foam sound-dampening baffles built into doors and side panels reduce acoustic levels by as much as 28 decibels.

R

Rack Depth
Rack depth is dictated by the deepest device you want to install. Determine the maximum rack depth required to mount your equipment in a floor-standing or wall-mount rack enclosure cabinet.
Reversible Front Door
Rotate rack cabinets 180° before mounting to open reversible front door left or right.
Roll-Through Capability
Some rack cabinets come pre-assembled and can be rolled through standard 7-ft. (2.13m) commercial doorways. This allows network equipment to be racked, cabled and rolled into place in a server room for easy installation.

S

Seismic Protection
Seismic server racks have a rugged welded construction and are tested to Seismic Zone 4 standards, making them ideal for sites that are earthquake-prone or are subject to regular vibration, such as an airport or factory.
Shock Pallet Packaging
Shock pallet racks feature additional reinforcement and shock-absorbing material for safely re-shipping loaded racks to remote sites.

T

TAA-Compliant
GSA scheduled purchases and other government contracts require products that comply with the Trade Agreement Act (TAA).

V

Vented Rack Panel
Vented rack panels allow generous airflow that keeps equipment cool.
Vertical-Mount Rack
Vertical-mount racks extend less than 12 inches from the wall while housing equipment up to 36 inches deep, including 1U servers, UPS systems, battery packs and switches.
Vertical Mounting Rail
Vertical mounting rails adjust in 7/8-inch increments to accommodate equipment up to 16.5 in. deep, such as network switches and patch panels.

W

Wall-Mount Rack
Wall-mount racks offer secure organization for standard 19-in. rack equipment and can support depths up to 36 in. in locations with limited floor space.
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CONTACT US

Phone

Sales
Mon - Fri 8 AM - 5:30 PM CST
+1 (773) 869-1776

Support
Mon - Fri: 8 AM - 5:30 PM CST
+1 (773) 869-1234

Tripp Lite
1111 West 35th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60609
United States

+1 (773) 869-1111 Main
1 773.869.1329 Fax

Business Hours
8 AM - 5:30 PM CST

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Need help with your purchase?
We're always available to help with questions, including product selection, sizing, installation and product customization. Call us at +1 (773) 869-1776 or email presaleshelp@tripplite.com.