StarTech 8U Open Rack

Anyone who has worked for any length of time in the fields of professional computing or audio is familiar with the concept of equipment racking. The ubiquitous and very common 19″ (48.25 cm) equipment racks used in these fields and many others (in the computing realm, network patch panels as well as servers are often stored in rack cabinets of various types) are well recognised as the best system for shelving and securing different pieces of equipment together in a neat and tidy way. Many different sizes and styles of racks are produced for IT equipment ranging from wall mounted open frames to fully enclosed cabinets up to 1 metre deep and around 40-50 rack units high (1 RU = 44 mm). These days it is even possible to buy cabinets specifically designed for outdoor use.

For home user environments the usefulness of such racks is somewhat more limited than in commercial environments. Nevertheless, smaller size racks can be used for various purposes, for example if several computers need to be fitted into a compact space then each computer could be installed into a rack case (instead of a normal desktop or tower case) so that several of them can be mounted horizontally in a small rack. Large racks can also make useful shelving for various purposes. For domestic use the open rack types are more affordable as the need for a fully enclosed secure cabinet is less necessary, especially when they can be enclosed within a cupboard in some cases. The big benefit of using a rack cabinet for general purpose domestic shelving is the ability to attach things to the rack ears which are pre-stamped with mounting holes and for which the well known captive nuts are readily available at standard M6 threads which can be engaged by a variety of different bolts other than the typically standard ones. Various types of shelves made of metal are also readily available to be attached to the rack ears in these cabinets, and these shelves are very durable. In essence the use of a rack of this type in a domestic home is a very good way of getting a well made set of shelves that will last a long time and can hold a lot of weight.

At the time of writing this the author is using multiple computers including a pair with full size ATX boards and a pair with microATX boards. The full size board models will go into a 4U rack case with full height slots while the microATX boards will fit into a 2U rack case with low profile slots. Future articles on this blog will look at several different rack cases as they are acquired for this process of rebuilding each computer into a rack case. This process has been started since it has been discovered that StarTech produces 8U open racks enabling a pair of them to be placed under a desk, one on each side. Once the conversion process is completed, the two racks will each have a 4U and a 2U case within them leaving 2U free for something else. In addition a 42U version of the same rack will be used for shelves to one side of the desk. One of the racks (not determined which) will also have a 1U network switch installed in it for the computers and other equipment. The computer cases will be attached to sliding rails to spread the weight across both front and rear rack ears, and also to allow them to be slid out for servicing without taking them right out of the rack.


The 4POSTRACK8U is a four post, two face network rack with front and rear mounting ears. The rack uses a clever design of adjustable side rails that allows the depth to be adjusted between 56 and 101 cm. The rack is supplied with four castors and also has four levelling feet provided that can be screwed in or out if needed to adjust for uneven floors. The 8U rack is supplied in a flat pack that is easily assembled; this package weight 24 kg, which gives you some idea of how solidly made it is.

The main benefit this author expects to see from the use of these racks in the home is that it makes for a very strong and tidy shelving system, and especially enables a lot of equipment cabling to be concealed readily for the multiple computers in use which have many connecting cables. This will make the working environment much neater overall. Another benefit is that the two racks under the desk can be used to support fixed keyboard shelves. Currently with multiple keyboards in use for the various computers, they are placed on two different levels, with an upper shelf attached directly to the desk and three lower shelves attached on sliding rails to the underside of the desk. The three lower shelves are proposed to be replaced by one or three separate pieces attached side by side to rails mounted on the top of the two racks, which is much easier to install/remove than fixing them to the underside of the desk as at present.

StarTech produces these open racks from 8U up to 42U. Dynamix is another well known brand of rack that is available in NZ and they produce the exact same type of open rack, although their range is only from 22U to 42U and their pricing is higher. The shelving produced for the Dynamix ROF series should fit the Starlink racks or in fact any rack as they engage to the front and rear ears and are adjustable to suit the available range of depths. StarTech have a wider range of rack sizes that are more useful in domestic and lesser commercial environments and they also have quite a range of other types of racks available.