What is a rack server?

Specially designed to be installed in a framework called a rack, rack servers (also known as rack mount servers) are stored in mounting slots called bays and are secured in place with screws. Rack servers have four size options, 1U, 2U, 4U and 8U (which are quite rare).

Unlike tower servers which are designed to be in an upright, standalone cabinet, rackmount servers have a low-profile enclosure. Multiple servers, stacked one above the other, can be stored in a single rack which helps to consolidate network resources and minimise the amount of floor space required. This method of storing servers also helps to simplify cabling among the network components.

There’s nothing stopping people from using different types of servers for the same tasks – such as virtualization or clouding. However, because of their builds, rackmount servers are often used for mail and file servers. Blade servers, meanwhile, are specialised for virtualization because of their compute power.

Benefits of rack servers, and what they’re used for

  • Convenience. It’s easy to add or remove rackmount servers – the technician simply needs to slide the server along the rails. Do bear in mind that the bigger the server (4U, 5U), the heavier it will be and the more cooling it will need. Plus, since all your servers can be stacked horizontally into one or multiple racks, they take up a minimal amount of data centre space.
  • Expandable. It’s easy to add upgrades or extra servers. If your operations expand, there’s plenty of space to either add multiple servers or carry out upgrades. Thanks to hot-swappable devices – which can be removed without having to turn off the system power – your business maximise its uptime.
  • Consolidated network resources. Every rack server has network interfaces so it’s pretty easy to install a network switch into the rack cabinet and connect all the servers to this switch.

What components do rack servers contain?

The exact make and models of components you need will depend on your specific IT requirements. For instance, if you’re carrying out load intensive tasks, you will likely need DDR4 server memory which will increase bandwidth and reduce voltage.

Watch our video below to see one of our server technicians configuring the HP ProLiant DL380 G7 rack server.

Basic components that every rack server chassis must contain:

  • A motherboard (also known as a system board). This enables communication between components via data buses.
  • A CPU (Central Processing Unit), also known as a processor. Responsible for executing start instructions. My colleague has written about how to choose the right CPU for your data centre requirements.
  • RAM (Random Access Memory), otherwise known as server memory. The more slots you have, the more server memory modules you can add, which reduces chances of bottlenecking and increases the speed of data access.
  • A HBA (Host Bus Adapter), which connects external devices to your server.
  • I/O Ports (such as USC, serial port or AUX port), which are almost always embedded into the system board.
  • Drive bays, to add hard drives (HDDs) or Solid State Drives (SSD) to your server.
  • Supporting equipment including rails, cable management bars, and a cooling system to prevent rack servers from overheating.

Where can I buy rack servers?

With over 225,000 IT parts from over 150 brands including HPE, Dell and IBM, Techbuyer supplies an extensive range of new and quality refurbished rack servers. Take a look online at our HPE rack servers or Dell rack servers, or feel free to get in touch with our five-star rated team.

All our devices go through our 25-point recertification process and come with an impressive three year warranty for complete peace of mind. We also have a free Configure to Order service available. Simply speak to our account managers about your IT requirements, and our experienced server technicians will handle the rest.