Explaining Server Rack Dimensions

Data Center Managed Services
Data Center Managed Services

Server racks come in a huge range of sizes, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the options when you first start thinking about how to build a server. However, there are a few general rules that you can use to decide on the best server rack sizes for your requirements. 

Start by thinking about how you plan to use your servers. Then move onto looking into the different options that are currently available. Once you know how wide, high and deep your servers and related accessories will be, you’ll be able to choose a suitable server rack that does everything you need it to do. 

Whether you’re thinking about ways to build the server your business needs for its grand expansion plans, or you’re looking for a more understated option to suit your home or small business needs, there are plenty of great options for you to choose from. Read up on server rack dimensions and how they work, and before long you’ll be fully equipped with the knowledge you need to make the best decision for your specific rack requirements.

How wide are server racks? 

Server racks are usually 19 inches wide. This is because the vast majority of rack-mounted equipment will have a mounting width of 19 inches, so keeping the width of server racks the same makes life easier for everyone. The technology will fit a 19-inch server rack perfectly, so there’s no need to worry about measuring individual pieces of equipment. 

The exterior width of 19-inch racks is usually around 24 inches. This too has been considered to keep things simple for those who work with them. The 24-inch width works well for data centers, as their floor panels are usually 48 inches. So, floor space can be used very efficiently with racks of this size. When server racks with a 24-inch exterior width are used, there’s still plenty of room to add cables and other equipment. 

What do I need to know about server rack height? 

People often talk about server racks in terms of their height, so this is another important dimension that you’ll want to consider before making your choice. 

Popular height terms that you’ll hear being talked about include ‘42U server racks’ and ‘seven-foot racks.’ The latter is of course fairly self-explanatory, but the term 42U also has a specific meaning related to its height. The ‘U’ in this abbreviation means rack units, and these have a standard height of 1.75 inches. Over time, 42U racks have become relatively commonplace in data centres, as they provide plenty of space for a server to grow over time, while still keeping the size of the rack small enough that it can be managed and maintained with ease. 

There are a few other height options that you may come into contact with while researching server rack dimensions. These include 22U and 27U racks, otherwise known as a half-rack. A number of non-standard sizes are also available, and you’ll notice these in abundance if you’re looking at open-frame racks. Open-frame racks come in quite a wide variety of heights, ranging right up to 70U for the very highest options.

How much does server rack depth vary? 

Server rack depth isn’t quite as varied as height, so there are fewer choices to weigh up here. Most often measured in inches, the depth of a server rack will be between 0 and 50 inches. The most popular options include depths of 24 and 48 inches, but there are also a fair few 29-inch server racks for open-frames. These server racks work well with brands like Dell, IBM and HP, so you’ll find no shortage of racks designed in this depth. 

There is some flexibility when it comes to pairing the right depth of rack with your chosen server. If you have a rack with a considerable depth, you’ll be able to make your own adjustments using rails, so you can still accommodate a smaller size server if you need to. 

How much space should there be between server racks? 

Space is a key consideration when planning any server setup, and it’s something that’s well worth bearing in mind while you choose your server rack dimensions too. 

Whether you’re using a data center or your own space, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got room not just for your server racks, but for the right amount of space between them too. Make sure there’s plenty of room around the rack so that air can easily circulate and you don’t risk overheating problems. You’ll also need enough space for your engineers to be able to access the servers whenever they need to. 

Space isn’t the only thing you’ll need to think about at this point, though. Other key considerations include the placement of units that may affect the server, such as any heating or air conditioning units. Server racks must be far enough away from these to avoid any damage that could be caused by drips or leaks. Bear in mind the thermal requirements of your server too, and think about both security and future proofing before you make your choice. 

Server racks are an important piece of any server setup. Their dimensions can have a real impact on how your system works, and what it’s ultimately capable of doing.  

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