Server Rack vs Cabinet (Difference Between Server Rack and Cabinet)

Last Updated - July 14, 2019
Server Rack vs Cabinet
Server Rack vs Cabinet

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You might think that a server rack and server cabinet is the same thing. But, that’s not the case at all. It is true that they fulfill the same purpose of accommodating server equipment in an organized manner. But, there are some fundamental differences between these two.

Server Rack vs Cabinet

Let’s get to know what those are…

Server Rack:

Server Racks
A few Server Racks

The term ‘Rack’ represents a structure which is built with a series of shelves stacked one above another. Most of us already should know this. Normally, a server rack is open on all sides. It doesn’t have any side panels and even doors. And, it is used to house server related gears like PSU, Motherboard, CPU, RAM, Storage Drive, and so on.

Server Cabinet:

Server Cabintes
Different Server Cabinets

A server cabinet is also used for the same purpose — to accommodate server related gears. But a server cabinet is not open. Rather, it is enclosed from all sides with doors and side panels. And, this is the topmost difference between a server rack and a cabinet.

The difference between Server Racks and Cabinets:

From the definitions of above, you now should have an idea about the key differences between a server cabinet and a rack. Now, in this section, we will present some additional pointers about the differences.

  • The Design:

The main distinction between a server rack and a cabinet is in the design. The cabinets are enclosed. And, you can access to the equipment inside of the server cabinet through a door. Usually, the door will have locks and will also have ventilation systems.

Added to that, these cabinets also come with flexible side panels. So that you can open those whenever you need to access the components or for better airflow.  But, you won’t see this type of side panels or even any doors in a server rack. It will mostly be open.

Also, most of the server racks have only one mounting point which is called 2 Post rack. But, the most common server cabinets has two mounting points: one at the front and another on the back. This is called a 4 post design. Although there are some 4 Post racks available as well they are very rare.

  • Security:
Secure Server
Secure Server

If you want to be secured, then you should go for a server cabinet. As these come with doors which can be locked. But, as the server racks are open, you might find it hard to keep your server equipment safe. However, if you have a private server cage, you can get a server rack. So that you can keep the rack inside the server cage for better security.

  • The size:

Normally, server cabinets come in a lot of sizes and shapes. But, the standard height of a server cabinet is about 19 inches. And the depth would be about 36 inches. However, there are some server cabinets which come with more depth and half the height. In contrast, a server rack mostly comes with plenty of depth. Also, you will have a lot of space in a server rack which is open compared to an enclosed cabinet.

  • Cable Management:
Cable Management
An example of a good Cable Management

Cable management is one of the most crucial things to consider while you are building your server. Ideally, a server doesn’t have a lot of cables to deal with. But, in case you have many cables, then you would be happy to get a server rack. Because it is very easy to organize your cables in a rack than an enclosed server cabinet.

  • Ventilation System:

You know that the equipment in a server can get hot over time. And, if you don’t keep good Ventilation system in your server room or in the server cabinet/rack then you will be in danger. First, your setup won’t perform as it’s supposed to. Next, overheating might lead to a fire hazard. Thus, a good air circulation system is a must for a server.

Usually, even though the server cabinets are enclosed, they come with some clever ventilation systems. For instance, these will have perforated doors and panels at the front, sides, and the rear of the cabinet. Also, you will have space to add air cooler or fans for optimal airflow and cooling. And, as a server rack is open, it doesn’t need such cooling accessories.