There are two main ‘types’ of data center racks on the market: 2-post racks and 4-post racks. When shopping around for server racks, it is important you understand the pros and cons of your options.
Understanding the differences between 2post and 4post racks can help ensure your data center or computer closet is properly setup to support your exact needs.
A 2-Post rack is most commonly used for IT equipment that is not very heavy such as patch panels, switches, etc. Often referred to as a telco rack or a relay rack, a 2-post rack has two vertical upright support beams. Items like full servers, routers, and monitors, require a greater weight capacity than what is available in 2-post racks. Sometimes 2-post racks need to be bolted into the floor in order to provide the required stability.
Advantages of 2-Post racks include:
- Cooling – Since 2 post racks are not enclosed, airflow is circulated easily. Fans on rack mounted equipment will easily disperse the heat out into the open area.
- Size – 2-post racks take up minimal space, which is important for many computer closets and even full data centers where floor space is at a premium.
- Access – The open nature of the frame allows for easy access to equipment mounted in the product.
- Cost – 2-post racks are affordable. Depending on the specific models chosen, they can be half the cost of your typical 4post rack.
4 post racks have (you guessed it) four posts. Some 4 post rack models include screened doors in the front and back of the rack for access and ventilation. The additional posts (in comparison to 2 post racks) make 4post racks more stable. Meaning they can hold more weight. Most servers, routers, and large switches, can be safely housed in this type of rack.
Advantages of 4-Posts racks include:
- Protection – Having computer equipment surrounded by a strong rack can help ensure it doesn’t get damaged by someone bumping into it, or having something fall on it.
- Support – 4-post racks allow equipment to be secured using rails or other supports in more locations, which helps to spread out the weight for added support.
- More Options – Just about all types of computer equipment will fit into standard 4-post racks, which makes it easier to plan out the future growth of a datacenter or computer closet.
- Cables – The cables within a traditional 4-post rack can more easily be run and protected, which can reduce the risk of them getting broken and causing outages.
Choosing the Proper Rack
Anyone managing a data center or server closet needs to make sure they have all the necessary information when deciding which rack to purchase. Thinking not only about the needs of today, but also future needs, is very important. Every individual or company will have a different list of priorities that needs to be considered. For example, in some organizations, cost-savings is a primary focus, while others are more concerned with ensuring their investments will meet their needs for years to come.