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First-time rack build planning

I’m planning a new server, largely out of boredom, for well into the future (I’m probably bare minimum a year or more out from even considering building), and I’ve just got a few questions while I’m thinking about it.

Part 1: I’m super new to anything rackmount, and I don’t know where to look for an actual rack. I’m looking for:

  • Something super budget friendly (300 US dollarydoos or less would be epic and ideally new for ease-of-finding)
  • Rather small but capable of 30"ish hardware (12U would be fine, I only plan on a 1U UPS, a 4U chassis, a switch and patch panel, and maybe a KVM)
  • Ideally enclosed? I like the SR12UB, but I sure don’t like the price tag. Willing to let this one go if enclosed ones are just not that obtainable for cheap.

Part 2: I’m also not really sure what switch to look for. I’d need 24 1Gbe ports and then at least 1 10Gb RJ45 port. Again, cheaper is better, and this is something I’m very willing to go used on. If it’d be considerably more economical to go 10Gb fiber though, that’s an option, I’d just need help on the fiber side for what to get.

Finally, part 3: I also have absolutely no idea what the hell I’m looking for when it comes to mounting hardware. All I can really say is my planned chassis is the Rosewill RSV-L4500, UPS is the OR700LCDRM1U, and then just ride off whatever switch is recommended.

Thanks in advance for reading through my textwall and providing any help. :slight_smile:

Welcome to the dark side. Well, the predominant colour in the server world is black :stuck_out_tongue:

I happen to have a pair of old Dell Powerconnect 2848 switches I got for free from my previous employer. These are 1Gb, 48 ports (4 of which are duo-ports with an SFP port, so it’s either one) and given their age, should go for not a lot of dough on the used market. Recommended with them is a USB-RS232 serial cable to reset the existing config in the switch, these are a few bucks on Aliexpress.

As for the racks: depending on where you are, going used is a viable option. It’s simple steel so not a lot can go wrong with them, unless it involves some heavy machinery. Sources are online but also schools, other campuses and of course data centres. Admittedly, most of those will be 42U high (or even taller) but if it’s free… :wink: Cage nuts (and bolts) can also be found online and shouldn’t set you back too much.

Oh, and welcome to the forums :slight_smile:

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You want to try and get a rack with square mounting holes though as that’s what most of the industry is standardized on. Especially important if you’re going used.

I mean, threaded or round holed racks are manageable (I should know :wink: ), depending on which brands you go with (Dell pretty much assumes square holes as far as I can tell)

That helps with one thing, but I still have no idea where to look for affordable small racks that tick all the boxes.

Used market sure as hell is not that place, the few listings I looked at were all 48U (which is far too large for my space, and I just don’t need that much space), and also usually a pretty good hike. I’d rather not have to take my dad’s truck that barely gets double-digit mileage on a ~120 mile round trip minimum. Not to mention issa big ol girl that I haven’t driven before which just adds another layer of “fuck that” to the mix. :stuck_out_tongue:

There was one from Startech which got a good review from STH a while ago, and I believe went for < $100 USD. I think it was 8U?

Yeah, this one: StarTech RK8OD Review 8U Open Frame Rack | ServeTheHome

Obviously not the fanciest thing around, but sounds like it would do the job if you’ve got just a few things to go in it.

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Star tech 4-post open racks are the best value for new. Get whatever height suits you. 2-post will be very limiting unless you’re only playing with network and small servers.

Startech 5m cage nuts are good also. 6m can be too big for some chassis (head hits the handles).

Alrighty, and what would your recommendation be for rails for the chassis? That’s the only thing I’m still unsure of. Ended up finding a rack that looks decent enough for what I’m looking for (that being the Sysracks 9SIAAAT3T89386), so if that needs to be considered you’ll have that at your disposal.

Rails are generally per chassis, so find yourself a server and figure out what rails it uses (if it doesn’t come with them already). Most network gear has rack mount brackets included or built into the chassis. Used gear may come without brackets and those brackets may be difficult to source if they were specific only to that model.

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Check out local university surplus sales. I took a trip over to WSU surplus and grabbed a rack from them just recently, they had 3 full sized and a half dozen half sized racks all lined up. I ended up with a full sized cabinet for $80.

Just make sure that you get one that is deep enough for your gear. The shorter units are often networking cabinets. These will fit a few switches and patch panels just fine, but are too shallow for servers.

(edited because words are hard)

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Agreed. Around 20” from front post to rear post is a good compatibility sweet spot.

Servers can be up to about 3 feet long, so if the rack is enclosed but shorter than that, it could be limiting. The posts don’t need to be that far apart but you wouldn’t be able to close the door potentially. One reason why open is more flexible.

I personally like my Tripp Lite 13U Open Rack.

https://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-Equipment-Capacity-SR4POST13/dp/B001ER6DA4/

It’s depth adjustable so you can choose how much room it takes up.

And these are the cage nuts and bolts I use. A little expensive for what they are but worth it.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M2DBE3V/