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Cheap Server Rack For Home | Ideas For Budget HomeLab

A cheap server rack for home use is an excellent way to dip your toes into the homelab scene while trying to maintain a decent budget for the equipment. I know several people in the community can offer tons of suggestions and we’ll go over a few of those today. The goal is of this article is to decide if we want a budget server rack or if we’re leaning towards something along the lines of the best rack server for small business.

When ever you’re looking to buy something it’s always important to know the use case and see which particular item suits you best. In order to compare items effectively, you’ll need to have an idea of the overall features, amount of equipment you’re looking to rack mount and how much weight your rack can withstand.

 

Cheap Server Rack For Home – Features To Look For

When it comes to a server rack there are few things you’ll want to keep in mind. Simple items that will save you some heart-ache in the future and won’t necessarily break the bank either. I’m going to list those items barney style so you have a clear idea of things to add to your check list. And since this article is geared around a cheap server rack for home I’ll note the must haves, but also add the “I think I’ll pay little more for that too” options.

 

Must Have Items For A Server Rack

In my experience I would have to say the must have items for any server rack are as followed, in no particular order. This shouldn’t matter if it’s a 6U or a 42U (We’ll get into what that means in a bit)

  • 4 Post Rack
    • A 4 post rack is definitely a must have to able to support the weight and have it equally distributed
  • Deep Server Rack
    • I don’t specify the depth here because different servers have different depths so I would measure your deepest rackmount item and start there
  • Rack with square holes
    • Square holes with cage nuts are best suited for servers. Most servers now come equipped with rapid rails to quickly mount it
    • Avoid round holes as those are designated for audio equipment. PLEASE!
  • At least 12U height
    • I say this because anything shorter than 12U you’ll probably end up having to upgrade later (and spend more money)
    • A “U” or rack unit is approx 1.75in in height so 12U would be 21in tall.

 

Nice To Have Items For A Server Rack

These are the nice to have items either for your server rack along with some accessories to go with it as well. Again in no particular order.

  • Wheels/ Casters
    • Trying to move 100+ pound rack full of equipment from one corner of the room to another is not fun. Casters can easily solve that problem.
  • Cage Nut Removal Tool
    • I call this the knuckle saver tool. If you don’t have one and try to remove cage nuts, you’ll understand why
  • Rack Studs
    • A rack stud is the evolution of a cage nut. It is a bit more expensive but it will make your life a lot easier when racking and unracking servers

Best Overall Cheap Server Rack For Home

So let’s get to it. In my opinion the StarTech 12U Open Frame Adjustable 4-Post Rack takes the cake for the best overall low cost server rack for your homelab.

StarTech 12U Open Frame Adjustable 4-Post Rack
Here is why this is our overall top pick:

  • This 12U server rack is just shy of $205 USD
  • It has an adjustable depth to fit your full size server. Fits Dell, HP and other big name brands
  • It has 4 posts for the extra support and stability
  • It has casters/wheels so you can easily move around as needed
  • 12U has space for your most common items such as two servers, UPS, rack mount switch, patch panels and cable management
  • Rated 4.8 out of 5 value for the money on Amazon

 

Runner Up for Best Overall Home Server Rack

Our runner up pick is the Raising Electronics 15U Open Frame 31″ Depth 4-Post Rack
Raising Electronics 15U Open Frame 4-Post Rack with Casters

Here is why this is our overall runner up choice:

  • This 15U server rack is just shy of $190 USD
  • It has an 31″ depth to fit your full size server. Fits Dell, HP and other big name brands
  • It has 4 posts for the extra support and stability
  • 15U has even more space to fit common rack mount items
  • Rated 4.5 out of 5 value for the money on Amazon

 

Best Budget Server Rack For Home

For the best budget server rack, I thought the Raising Electronics 15U Open Frame Adjustable 4-Post Rack was a good fit.

Raising Electronics 15U Open Frame Adjustable 4-Post Rack

Here is why this is our overall budget pick:

  • This 15U server rack is just shy of $155 USD
  • It has an adjustable depth to fit your full size server. Fits Dell, HP and other big name brands
  • It has 4 posts for the extra support and stability
  • 15U has even more space to fit common rack mount items
  • Rated 4.6 out of 5 value for the money on Amazon

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should I get an enclosed rack for my homelab?
A: Enclosed server racks usually cost way more so if you want to shell out the money. By all means go for it.

Q: I just got my new server rack. Now what.
A: It’s time to play :). Rack’em and stack’em. Visit https://www.reddit.com/r/homelab for more ideas on what to do with your homelab.

Q: Do I need extra cooling or is open air cooling ok?
A: Google runs some datacenters at 95 °F (35 °C) so it’s OK to keep the servers warm as long as it’s consistent. Just make sure there isn’t a constant change in temperature.

Paul

Hi, my name is Paul and I am a Sysadmin who enjoys working on various technologies from Microsoft, VMWare, Cisco and many others. Join me as I document my trials and tribulations of the daily grind of System Administration.