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Two engineers working with rackmount enclosures

A Guide to Rackmount Enclosures

When investing in larger and more expensive servers and electronic equipment, it can be challenging to properly store them. However, it's important to make sure computers and servers are stored, organized, and protected from their environments. Enter rackmount enclosures.

Rackmount enclosures are cases designed to provide secure and compact housing for servers and other equipment. Rackmount cases optimize space and help manage server environments. 

A server case, or chassis, offers countless benefits, including improved airflow, easy access to components, and cable management. They ensure a server infrastructure's reliability, scalability, and overall performance. Whether it's a small data center, a network infrastructure, or an industrial control system, selecting the right rackmount case greatly impacts the operations of server-based applications and services. 

What is a Rackmount?

When using the term rack mount, people are either referring to a hardware device designed to be mounted inside a rack or the rack itself. The racks resemble large metal cabinets with a standard width of 19" or 24". It's common for large companies and data centers where network servers, routers, switches, and other network devices practice rack mounting.

What is a Rackmount Case?

A rackmount case or enclosure, also known as a rackmount chassis, is a  sturdy case typically made of durable materials like steel or aluminum that’s designed to be mounted on a metal rack. These cases come in standardized sizes so they are compatible with standard rack units (U) of varying heights and widths, the most common width being 19”. By providing a protective framework for the servers and other equipment, these server chassis supply stability, security, and streamline installation.

These server chassis also have features\ for cable management, such as cable routing channels, cable organizers, and cable tie points to keep the network and power cables organized, preventing tangling. It's much easier to troubleshoot and perform maintenance when the cables aren't jumbled in a mess. Plus, it much more pleasing to the eye.

A rackmount case holding servers

What are Rackmount Enclosures Used for?

Rackmount enclosures are used across diverse industries and environments, helping enterprises across the spectrum streamline operations and protect equipment. 

Network Infrastructure and Telecommunications

In addition to large data centers and server rooms, rackmount enclosures play a vital role in network infrastructure and telecommunications environments. Rackmount chassis aid in effective connectivity, data transfer, and management of network resources by housing routers, switches, patch panels, and other networking equipment.

Audio/visual Installations and Broadcasting

Rackmount cases are used in media and broadcasting to help protect and organize audio mixers, video servers, recording devices, and other music and entertainment equipment. By providing a stable and secure platform for audio-visual components, these cases increase performance reliability and offer easy integration in different production environments. 

Surveillance technicians review video footage in front of large rackmount enclosures

Industrial Control Systems and Automation

In industrial control systems and automation, rackmount chassis protect programmable logic controllers (PLCs), industrial computers, and other control equipment from harsh industrial environments. While protecting servers and equipment from dust, moister, and temperature, they also allow easy maintenance access.

Security and Surveillance Systems

These server cases are also used in security and surveillance systems to manage video recorders, network video recorders (NVRs), and other security devices. With rackmount cases, users can centralize and organize their security equipment. This, in turn, helps streamline video storage, monitoring, and management. 

Three different rackmount cases with electronics cables

How to Pick the Best Rackmount Enclosure 

When looking for the right rackmount case size, it's important to consider factors such as equipment dimensions, components, and future expansion. 

Standard Sizes of Rackmount Cases and Enclosures

The rack unit (U) measurement system is a universal method used to describe the vertical space within a server rack or enclosure. One rack unit (1U) represents a height of 1.75 inches (44.45 mm). 

Common sizes include:

  • 1U: With a height of 1.75 inches, these are the most compact. This size is best for low-profile equipment or where space is limited 
  • 2U: Coming in at 3.5 inches, these server cases offer slightly more vertical space. 
  • 4U: At 7 inches tall, these rackmount cassis are best for large or specialized equipment that need more height or components.

Rackmount enclosures come in larger sizes beyond 4U, such as 5U, 6U, 8U, and even higher, with each model offering more space for equipment with specific requirements.

Different Types of Rackmounts

It's important to find the best type of rackmount for your needs. The three most common types of rackmounts are:

  • Open frame racks: These racks are simple frames without sides or doors. They are ideal for high-density cabling and easy access.
  • Rack enclosures: These cabinets have removable doors and side panels, providing security and ventilation for heavier equipment in data centers.
  • Wall-mount racks: Like the name suggestions, these are designed to mount equipment to walls, saving space. They can be open frames or enclosed cabinets and are usually smaller with a lower weight capacity than floor-standing racks.

Along with vertical height, width, and depth are also important considerations when choosing the best rackmount case. A standard rack or EIA-310 is typically 24 inches in width. However, it's important to remember that this is how much space the case will take up. The internal space for the server is only 19 inches for standard cases. Standard rackmount cases have a depth of 42 inches. Extra depth and width options are available. 

An electrical engineering optimizing a server housed in a rackmount enclosure

To Wrap Up

When creating stable and safe environments for servers and other electronic devices, Rackmount enclosures are an absolute must. Not only do these cases provide organized and secure housing for servers, networking equipment, and other components, but they also offer protection and optimization by facilitating proper airflow management, simplifying cable management, and contributing to a reliable server environment.

Browse our collection of rackmount enclosures and cases. Still, have questions? Our specialists can help! Contact us at 1-800-528-1417 or 

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