View Poll Results: If DC space was not a factor, would you use mid-tower cases or use rackmounts.

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  • Yes, mid-towers rock!

    29 43.28%
  • No, I would use rack mount cases.

    38 56.72%
Results 1 to 36 of 36
  1. #1
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    Rackmounts VS. MidTower cases

    There are a lot better quality and cheaper mid-tower cases available over rackmounts. If space is not really a consideration, would you choose a good mid tower vs. rackmount if you were offering dedicated servers?

    I see many advantages to the mid tower:
    repairs are easier
    cooler
    quieter
    easier to buy ($$$)

    any other opinions? remember, space is not a factor, sq footage is cheap if you own the DC
    Nik Martin
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  2. #2
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    If space was not of concern, I'd definitely get a midtower cases

  3. #3
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    something nice about pulling your equipment out from a rack still on rails and being able to open the case without unplugging it and disrupting the environment around it..

    so i would have to disagree with your statement of repairs are easier..

    -not sure i would agree with the fact that they are cooler
    -quieter, thats pretty hard to judge.. depends on the case, equipment inside, power supplys, and case/cpu fans.. both can be quiet, both can be loud as hell
    -easier to buy only in the fact they are 1/3 the price normally.. but not for a case you can have hotswapable drive bays, and with redudant hotswapable power supplys
    - brian

    failing to plan is planning to fail.

  4. #4
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    All good points, but the rack case you mentioned has features running up to around $300/case. A/C'd floor space is about 8$ sq/foot.
    Nik Martin
    nfina Technologies, Inc.
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  5. #5
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    Even if space and money isn't a concern - rack's are just damn cooler.

    If i had to worry about money - they average 2-3X the price of a mid tower case...

  6. #6
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    If Space is factor, of course rackmount

    Tower can save you some big bucks. but I'll still take Rack mount since it looks cooler

  7. #7
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    amen GPS-Chickon!

  8. #8
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    Originally posted by nikko
    All good points, but the rack case you mentioned has features running up to around $300/case. A/C'd floor space is about 8$ sq/foot.
    might be more expensive upfront, but it would work itself out to be less costly in the long haul.
    - brian

    failing to plan is planning to fail.

  9. #9
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    no matter how cheap sq. ft space is eventually you will run out of space... IF you plan on being a long term operation. If you don't think you'll be in business longer than the time it takes to fill up your space with towers then towers will be fine.

  10. #10
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    Originally posted by dherman76
    Even if space and money isn't a concern - rack's are just damn cooler.
    Hm, that depends. If you build your own rackmount, than you may get some crappy rackmount cases that is not optimized for the best cooling.
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  11. #11
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    Originally posted by nikko
    All good points, but the rack case you mentioned has features running up to around $300/case. A/C'd floor space is about 8$ sq/foot.
    Few things there,

    1. Most "Real" Quality data centers are not around $8/sqft. Many are up in the $30-70sqft range.
    2. If you're paying $300 for a low end rackmount chassis, you're getting ripped off, theres a few around for < $100/case.
    3. Racks are a ton easier to manage cables, since you can have them all dropping vertically without crossing them over power cables causing tons of interference.
    4. Racks, once they're screwd in, they dont go anywhere, towers, they're on shelves, people can bump shelves (and have a mega accident if unlucky), also removing cases results in other servers around geting bumped often, can lead to cables getting bumped out if you're not carefull.
    5. If you use APC's, putting them on shelves is a pain in the arse because they're already in 1/2u rack size (1u, 1/2 length).

  12. #12
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    That's true about mid-towers - they can be bumped off the shelves easily

  13. #13
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    Originally posted by porcupine


    Few things there,
    ...
    2. If you're paying $300 for a low end rackmount chassis, you're getting ripped off, theres a few around for < $100/case.
    The features mentioned in an earlier post (slide rails, tool-less lid, hot swap drives, etc.) are features found in $300 cases. The racks I buy are sub $175, and aren't that easy to manage.

    But I give, racks are probably the way to go.
    Nik Martin
    nfina Technologies, Inc.
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    Server Hardware, Storage, and Turnkey systems for Service Providers

  14. #14
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    Yes - a very good rack case is very expensive.

  15. #15
    Greetings:

    Our parent company has picked the Compaq DL360G2 as their standard for hosting.

    The boxes are designed to be easier to repair than most desk tops. The hard drives are truly hot plugable. Access is a breeze to all major compontents.

    We just started buying them, and before this month is over will have six of them running. We have not seen heat or sound problems.

    They are an investment running over $4,000 per server.

    While desktops and tower systems are cheaper (an article in HostingTech Magazine talked about how Rackshack and Nocster do wht they do), there are space and other issues involved in using them.

    Thank you.
    ---
    Peter M. Abraham
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  16. #16
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    At this point, we have just over 10,500 servers up and running in out data center. Less than about 2500 of those are rack mounted. Of those, about 1000 are Compaq DL 320s and about 1500 are Cobalt Raqs. The Dl 320s are find machines and we do get a good density. However, they take a lot of power and cooling to keep a rack going.

    By far and away, a tower case provides the bast configuration if you own and operate your own DC. We've run the numbers every way we can, and the current configuration that we use of 2 rows back to back, teh density is not substantially lower. If you were to factor in the additional foot print for UPS systems and additional Data Air units due to a higher density, it would be almost a wash. (within 10% anyway)

    The towers provide better cooling at a fraction of the price. A typical low end rack mount case of decent quality is in the $150 range. Good quality with features similar to the Compaq runs $350 and up as compared to a tower case with a 300 plus watt power supply and fans at around $30 in 1000 plus quantities. (10+ quantity that same case woudl be in the $50-$65 range.

    While there may be a stigma attached to using tower cases, it is pretty much a "perception" problem.

    Does anyone remember the RackSpace ads where the towers were in the background? Do you think Rack Space would use a poor quality system? Not exactly.

    As far as a tower "falling" off of a rack, it has never happened here. Never. Never. Never. The racking, at least what we use, is commercial quality made by fellows and actually costs a little more than traditional data center racks but less then cabinets.

    Most DCs that were originally built for colocation were not meant to have every cabinet completely filled with 1 u servers. Verado built some of the best and even their build fell short even when we were using racking and shelves that we have. For example, we have had to add additional a/c units, another generator, and additional UPS systems to support the density that we have.

    If youcontrol your own facility, don't be drawn into the argument that you HAVE TO use rack mount systems. However, if you rent cabinets in another DC, you have little choice.

    Robert
    Robert Marsh
    Head Surfer

  17. #17
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    Glad to hear the RS point of view. That sways things a bit. I need the argument of someone actually using towers.

    The BTU per sq foot MUST be thought of. It Head Surfer filled the same room with Racks of 1U servers, I dont think he could afford to cool the same room. You might say "yeak but with all the extra money coming in, he could afford it", and I think he's right. You would have to triple the power and cooling, plus provide redundancy of the cooling system.

    My other opinion is if I bought 30 commercial AC units vs. 5 huge high $$$ lieberts, I can lose 5 cheap 5 ton AC units and still cool the space. Lose on liebert and you're up a creek with a bunch of 1U heat pumps in a room.

    Scalibility is where I'm at. Robert needs more floor space, but as I said earlier its cheaper to buy sq footage when your cooling and power demands per sq foot are much lower.
    Nik Martin
    nfina Technologies, Inc.
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  18. #18
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    I just bought an IBM x330 1U rack mount server. It has a whole lot packed into a nice lil case. I couldent have built a 1U server with the same features, and carried a warranty.
    Nick Twaddell
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  19. #19
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    BTW Head Surfer, you brought up my next question in this thread. At what point do you say "no more servers, the economy of scale has been reached now that I have xx thousand servers crammed in here"
    Nik Martin
    nfina Technologies, Inc.
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    Server Hardware, Storage, and Turnkey systems for Service Providers

  20. #20
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    Good question - Nik

  21. #21
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    Really, it all depends on how much space you have. If you have tons of cheap space, go tower. If not, then go rackmount. Rackmount servers just save space.
    Mike @ Xiolink.com
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  22. #22
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    Never .. we just keep expanding space. We have a 16k expansion coming online in Jan. and are working to put another 24k under contract by years end.

    Bear in mind, the economics of tower/Rack mount hinge on who controls/owns the space.

    If you are leasing cabinets in a DC, it is almost for sure that you must use rack mount. Then the backups and A/C are their problem.

    On air conditioning, it is more than just cooling air. It also has to due with humidity and such. Hence, Liebert and Data Aire are HIGHLY suggested for DC applications although there is one provider that is know here with their "own" DC that uses commercial units as opposed to Liebert/Data Aire.

    Robert
    Robert Marsh
    Head Surfer

  23. #23
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    We switched from rackmounts to towers when we opened our own data center.

    Rackmounts are nice but if you don't buy the expensive ones ($200+) you can run into serious cooling issues.

    Towers are nice because they are easier to work on, more expandable (our largest tower fits up to 7 drives!), and most of all processors etc. are available for them much earlier than for Rackmounts.

    I vote for towers, but of course I am biased.
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  24. #24
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    thats quite a data centre! (headsurfer)

  25. #25
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    personally i always go for towers rather than rackmount purely for cooling.

    purely interest......just who has the biggest DC? servers/space?
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  26. #26
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    Headsurfer,

    Out of curiosity on density over rack mount and ATX, how many servers are you looking to install in new 16,000 sq.ft building?


    -Shazad

  27. #27
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    Re: Rackmounts VS. MidTower cases

    Originally posted by nikko
    There are a lot better quality and cheaper mid-tower cases available over rackmounts. If space is not really a consideration, would you choose a good mid tower vs. rackmount if you were offering dedicated servers?

    I see many advantages to the mid tower:
    repairs are easier
    cooler
    quieter
    easier to buy ($$$)

    any other opinions? remember, space is not a factor, sq footage is cheap if you own the DC
    I prefer rack cases myself, even if you own a dc and have tons of room, eventually you'll run out. They aren't really that much more expensive. I picked up a lot of 10 off of ebay a while ago for like $50 a peace sealed. You can buy them retail for around $150 (for a 1u, $120 for a 2u problably).
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  28. #28
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    Re: Rackmounts VS. MidTower cases

    Originally posted by nikko
    There are a lot better quality and cheaper mid-tower cases available over rackmounts. If space is not really a consideration, would you choose a good mid tower vs. rackmount if you were offering dedicated servers?

    I see many advantages to the mid tower:
    repairs are easier
    cooler
    quieter
    easier to buy ($$$)

    any other opinions? remember, space is not a factor, sq footage is cheap if you own the DC
    Others have made the point regarding space - yes if you own tens of thousands of sq feet then towers are the way to go, however for most providers this will not be the case.

    I question your points that repairs are easier for mid towers. It's much harder getting a mid tower (that's surrounded by lots of other mid towers) out of it's racking system - remember, they have no handles. Unless you are using a screwless design, you'll have to unscrew more screws than you would with most rackmount cases - a lot of the good rackmount cases have an unscrewable lid thats quick and easy to take off. Overall I'd say its easier to replace components in a rackmount case.

    Good rackmount cases are designed with airflow in mind, so they'd run equally as cool.

    The quieter issue isn't really a factor unless its for home use, in which case you'd go for mid tower anyway. Does it really matter how loud it is in a datacenter?

    Mid towers are cheaper, although some decently priced good quality rackmounts are now on the market.
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  29. #29
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    Are those sub $100 1U rackmount chassis listed on e-bay any good?

    Fonpi

  30. #30
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    1st off, getting a midtower off a shelf is *far* easier then taking out a rackmount chassis, especially if theres nothing directly under the rackmount chassis.

    Second the cheap chassis you find on ebay, etc. we've picked up a few of them, two complaints:

    1. The wires for the reset/power switches and ide lights, etc. often didn't reach (how hard is it to add 2" into a wire?).
    2. The metal is often cheap/too thin, which means if you're using standard 2 post racks, they'll bend even potentially break

  31. #31
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    Originally posted by porcupine
    [B]1st off, getting a midtower off a shelf is *far* easier then taking out a rackmount chassis, especially if theres nothing directly under the rackmount chassis.
    If there isn't anything under a rackmount and you've got a nice 4u server full of drives, then it does make the experience a little interesting

    However, looking at all of Robert's rows of midi ATX servers, it looks quite difficult to get at them especially when they are on the top row.
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  32. #32
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    Originally posted by porcupine
    2. The metal is often cheap/too thin, which means if you're using standard 2 post racks, they'll bend even potentially break
    How do you mount a 1U rackmount chassis to a 2 post rack?

    Fonpi

  33. #33
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  34. #34
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    Originally posted by porcupine
    1st off, getting a midtower off a shelf is *far* easier then taking out a rackmount chassis, especially if theres nothing directly under the rackmount chassis.
    Not if it's pretty far up, then it can be tough You can also buy slide rails so you can simply slide out a rackmount chassis instead of completely unbolting it.

    I have a server enclosure filled with 4U servers. I haven't run into any cooling problem, but it is in a constant-65 degree room.
    Matt Kaufman
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  35. #35
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    If you've got servers so high up that reaching them is prooving to be more difficult then the top space on a 44u rack, then you're doing something wrong, and/or operating out of a warehouse with 40 foot roofs . Most shelves that i've found get pretty unsteady after about 6 feet, and i wouldn't trust them past that.

  36. #36
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    Plan for the future......use rack mount!!! It would suck if you had to replace all of your towers because of lack of space 1 year down the road.

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