Considerations for Choosing a Server Cabinet

Data Center Managed Services
Data Center Managed Services

Knowing how to choose a server cabinet might not be as easy as you would probably first imagine it to be. There are numerous options to choose from with variations that make it difficult to know which you should choose. To help you choose the right design for you, it helps to understand the different types and the pros and cons each one offers. We’ve created this brief guide that gives you the information you need so you know how to choose a server cabinet yourself. 

Or we as data center professionals would love to help you pick out your data center server cabinets, don’t hesitate to call us at 832-663-6028. We have over 20 years of experience in the data center business and we offer fully managed Houston colocation with our Colo+ product, which includes migration, rack and stack, and free remote hands on, so you never have to touch your gear again.

Open Frame vs. Closed Frame

Server cabinets come in two main categories: Open frame and closed frame. Each type has its pros and cons.

Open Frame Rack Pros:

  • Cost

Open frame racks typically cost less than closed frame racks do, making them a more appealing option to companies working with a restricted budget.

  • Accessibility

As the name suggests, open frame racks are open. This makes it easier to access the components inside, which is more convenient for maintenance, repairs, and upgrades, etc.

  • Air-Flow

When you’re wondering how to choose a server cabinet, airflow should be one of your main concerns. Open frame racks allow the air from the room they’re stored in to flow over the equipment, helping to keep it cool. Keeping the equipment cool will help maintain optimal performance, while also helping to prevent fire and heat damage.

Open Frame Rack Cons:

  • Tidiness

With an open frame rack, cables, rails, and other equipment are exposed. It becomes more difficult to keep everything organized and it becomes easier for cables to be accidentally tugged. Other equipment is also more likely to be damaged with an open frame rack, while they also simply just don’t look as good as closed frame racks do.  

  • Security

Open framed racks are easier to access and, while this can be a positive, it can also be a negative. Easier access means it’s easier for the wrong people to reach the rack, making open frames less secure than closed frames. If you’re wondering how to choose a server cabinet and security is one of your main concerns, an open frame design probably won’t be the best choice. We don’t recommend these unless you are purchasing for on-prem hardware, we would never recommend an open frame rack in a data center you don’t own.

  • Dust

Dust can collect very quickly even in clean rooms. An open-frame rack will make it easier for dust to settle, potentially resulting in overheating and performance issues.

Close Frame Rack Pros:

  • Enhanced Air Flow

Open frame racks allow air to circulate around your equipment, helping to keep it cool. In a closed frame rack you have more control over the environment within the racks. Additional equipment can be added to the unit, giving you more precise control over the temperature.

  • Security

A closed frame rack can be securely locked, helping to keep the equipment safe. Not only can a closed frame rack help prevent deliberate theft and damage, but it can also help keep the equipment safe from accidents.

  • Tidiness

With a closed frame rack, cables and other equipment can all be contained within the rack. This helps you to keep everything more organized and provides further protection against accidental damage.

Other Variables:

Knowing how to choose a server cabinet involves more than just deciding on open or closed racks. There are a number of other variables and accessories to take into account, including:

  • 2 Posts or 4 Posts

Server racks typically come available with 2 or 4 upright support beams. 2 post racks take up less space, are more affordable, easier to access, and allow for better circulation when compared with 4 post racks. 4 post racks are larger and more expensive, but provide more support for heavier equipment and more protection against damage.

  • Rails

Server racks can usually be fitted with rails on which servers and other equipment can be mounted. The equipment can then be slid in and out easily when needed, allowing for easier access when it comes to maintenance, repair, and upgrades, etc.

  • Blanking Panels

Blanking panels fit on the front of a server rack where there is an empty slot. They help to improve cooling efficiency, while also helping to improve the aesthetics.

  • Cable Management Bars

As the name suggests, cable management bars will help you to keep cables neat and tidy. Keeping your cables organized makes upgrades and repairs easier and also reduces the chance of damage.

  • Surge Protectors

Power surges and electronics tend not to go well together. Surge protectors will help to keep your equipment safe from surges, protecting against damage and downtime.

  • KVM Console

A Keyboard, Video (monitor), and Mouse (KVM) console will help you manage your servers. The console will make it easy for you to switch between servers to monitor activity and performance.

  • Ventilation Fans

When wondering how to choose a server cabinet, heat is something that you should always bear in mind. Ventilation fans will make it a lot easier for you to control the temperature in your servers, protecting against heat damage and fire. 

Let the Pros Handle It

At TRG Datacenters, we have over 20 years of experience in the data center business and three generations of data center operators. If you are feeling overwhelmed with choosing from the many options available for data center cabinets, we would be happy to manage your hardware for you. We offer fully managed colocation through our Colo+ product, which includes migration, rack and stack, and free remote hands on, so you never have to touch your gear again. Don’t hesitate to call us at 832-663-6028 or email us at