Homelab Server Rack: What to consider and what I recommend


Homelab rack

If you’re like me, you love playing with technology. A homelab is a great way to learn new technologies and test ideas. But what’s the best way to set up your home lab? This article will discuss the available homelab racks and what works best for a home lab. I will also recommend some products that will help you get started!


What exactly is a homelab?

A home lab is a place in your house where you can experiment without fear of losing data or downtime. There are many different types of home labs. Some people use it just to learn about networking, while others use it to build custom hardware. Whatever your reason for building one, there are several ways to set up a home lab.

A home lab can be as simple as a single computer or server or a more complex setup with multiple devices, including wireless access points, switches, routers, firewalls, webcams, IP cameras, etc.

Location is one of the most important things to consider when setting up your home lab. You’ll want to find a place that is safe and secure. This could be a dedicated room in your house, apartment, or even a closet! Once you have a location, you’ll need to start thinking about how to power and cool your devices.

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The most popular option is a server rack. A server rack can be purchased pre-assembled, or you can build your own. I recommend purchasing a pre-assembled server rack if you’re just starting out. This will save you time and money in the long run! You can also purchase a small network rack.

You may also find my article on configuring a home network and creating your own DNS nameserver valuable and informative.


Best server homelab rack

When looking for the best server rack for your homelab, you’ll want to consider the following factors:

Types: Cabinets vs. open frame

There are two main types of rack servers: cabinets and open-frame. Cabinets are fully enclosed and provide more security for your devices. They also tend to be more expensive than open-frame. Open frames are less expensive and provide better airflow, but they don’t offer as much security for your devices.


Size: 

The size of the rack is important. You’ll want to ensure that it will fit in the space you’ve chosen for your lab. The most common sizes are 19-inch and 23-inch. A 19-inch basic one will fit in most places, while a 23-inch one is larger and requires more space. Sizes are also mentioned as U, with U being the height of Rack Units (RU).


Weight:

The weight of the rack is also important. You’ll want to ensure that it can support the weight of all your devices. The average weight for a 19-inch server rack is 50kg, while a 23-inch one can weigh up to 80kg.


Features:

  • Type of devices that can be mounted in the rack
  • Doors or sides that open
  • Wheels for easy moving
  • Levelers/ Cable Management / Network Cable Runs 
  • locking doors to keep your devices safe
  • power strip to power all of your devices
  • Excess Heat consideration / extra cooling

Make sure the rack has all of the features you need, such as wheels for easy movement, locking doors to keep your devices safe, and a power strip to power all of your devices.


Cost Server Rack:

Of course, you’ll also want to consider price when choosing a server rack for your homelab. Server racks can range in price from around $100 to over $1000. It’s important to find one that fits your budget and needs. Many options are available, so be sure to do your research!


Recommended Homelab Hardware

Now that you know what to look for in a server rack, let’s look at some of the hardware you’ll need to get started with your home lab. The following are just a few ideas to get you started!

  • A good-quality server rack. This is perhaps the most important piece of hardware you’ll need for your home lab. Make sure to choose a well-built rack designed for easy expansion.
  • When choosing a server for your home lab, it’s important to consider expandability. If you plan to add more devices to your home lab, you’ll need a server to accommodate additional hardware. Rack-mounted servers are an excellent choice since they offer more expandability than tower servers.
  • A reliable network switch. Your home lab will need a fast and reliable network switch to connect all your devices together. Look for a switch that offers plenty of ports, such as a 10-Port Gigabit Switch as a Core Switch and a 24-Port Managed Gigabit Switch. I would only buy managed switches. 1gbit or 10gbit switch is recommended. Quality cables, at least CAT7 Cables. Be sure to use high-quality cables to connect your devices together. Cheap cables can cause data loss and slow down your network speeds.
  • A UPS (uninterruptible power supply). A UPS is an important piece of hardware for any home lab. It provides backup power during a power outage and protects your devices from surges.
  • A firewall will protect your home lab from outside threats. Be sure to choose a firewall with enough ports for all your devices.

These are just a few ideas to get you started with your home lab hardware. With the right equipment, you can build a powerful and expandable home lab that will serve you well for years!


My recommendations for Rack Cabinets


StarTech – my favorite

StarTech.com 12U AV Rack Cabinet – Network Rack with Glass Door – 19 inch Computer Cabinet for Server Room or Office (RK1236BKF)
  • KEEP EQUIPMENT COOL AND SECURE: This AV rack cabinet locks tight while abundant venting promotes passive cooling to keep your server room equipment at an optimal temperature
  • MAXIMIZE MOBILITY: With heavy-duty casters included, this easy to transport and quick-assemble 12U network rack is ready to move when you are
  • CONVENIENT ACCESSIBILITY: With its dark glass door, this audio video cabinet allows you to view your equipment even while locked
  • STANDARD COMPATIBILITY: This 19” computer rack cabinet is compatible with standardized rack-mountable equipment such as servers and KVM switches, and has an adjustable mounting depth of up to 29”
  • THE IT PRO’S CHOICE: Designed and built for IT Professionals, this rack cabinet is backed for life, including free lifetime 24/5 multi-lingual technical assistance

Homelab Server Racks

StarTech.com 4-Post 12U Mobile Open Frame Server Rack, 19in Network Rack with Wheels, Rolling Rack for Computer/AV/Data/IT Equipment – Casters, Leveling Feet or Floor Mounting (4POSTRACK12U)
  • ADJUSTABLE DEPTH: 4- Post 12U open frame server rack with 4 vertical rails and adjustable mounting depth 22″ to 40″ (56cm to 101cm); Compatible with various servers / switches / data / AV and other IT equipment; EIA/ECA-310-E Compliant
  • EASY ASSEMBLY: Mobile network rack with easy-to-follow assembly instructions and online video; Compact flat-pack shipping to avoid damage and facilitate installation; Only 25in (64cm) high, ideal for utility/server closets or narrow home/office spaces
  • COLD ROLLED STEEL: Durable 4 Post 19″ small open frame rack designed for ventilation with 12U mounting height and 1200lb (544kg) weight capacity (stationary); 3 install options included: casters, levelling feet, or base-plate to secure rack to the floor
  • HARDWARE INCLUDED: Rolling computer/data rack includes cage nuts and screws to mount equipment, easy to read Units (U) and depth adjustment markings, cable management hooks for organization, and required assembly tools
  • THE IT PRO’S CHOICE: Designed and built for IT Professionals, this 12U rack is backed for 2-years, including free lifetime 24/5 multi-lingual technical assistance
NavePoint 12U Wall Mount Network Server Cabinet for 19” IT Equipment, A/V Devices, Tempered Glass Door, Removable Side Panels, Locks, Fan, 450mm Depth
  • DURABLE BUILD: Constructed from high-quality Cold Rolled Steel, the NavePoint Consumer Series 12U network cabinet boasts a sturdy, welded frame. Fitting EIA standard 19” networking equipment, this server cabinet confidently supports up to 110 lbs, providing a resilient base for your vital IT gear and equipment
  • CONVENIENT DESIGN: This 12U cabinet features a reinforced, heat-treated, tempered glass front door with a security lock. Perfect for applications requiring both security and accessibility, its compact design of 17.72″L x 21.65″W x 24.42″H offers a practical solution for space-constrained settings.
  • EASY & CUSTOMIZABLE EQUIPMENT SET UP – The 12U IT cabinet, with removable side panels and security locks, offers customization at its finest. Whether it’s for an efficient device or cable management, this data cabinet ensures secure, adaptable configurations that suit your networking server requirements
  • ENHANCED VENTILATION & SECURITY – Built-in fans and flow-through ventilation work to prevent overheating, ensuring optimal operation of your equipment. The reinforced, lockable tempered glass front door not only boosts security but also facilitates easy monitoring of installed equipment.
  • SAFETY & COMPLIANCE – Compliant with CE, EIA/ECA-310-E, HIPAA, NEMA Rated Type-1, PCI. Compliance with these standards ensures that the cabinet meets specific quality, safety, and environmental requirements

Sale
StarTech.com 4-Post 9U Mobile Open Frame Server Rack, Network Rack with Wheels, 19″ Rolling Rack for Home/Office Narrow Floor Spaces, Small Data Rack for Computer/AV/IT Equipment – TAA (RK960CP)
  • MAXIMUM PORTABILITY: built-in handles and four swiveling casters make this the ideal mobile AV / Data equipment rack to interface with other equipment around your workspace; Ideal for utility/server closets or narrow home / office spaces
  • EASY ASSEMBLY: Rolling network rack with easy-to-follow assembly instructions; Compact flat-pack shipping to avoid damage and facilitate installation; Only 18.8in / 47.7cm high (without casters) or 22.1in /56.2cm (with casters); EIA/ECA-310-E Compliant
  • STURDY DESIGN: The server room rack features heavy-gauge mounting rails to ensure a stable installation platform; This 4-post rack supports a loading capacity of up to 220.5lb/100kg (Rolling) or 297.7lb/135kg (Stationary)
  • HARDWARE INCLUDED: 19″ Open frame small computer / data rack includes cage nuts and screws to mount equipment, bracket and panel screws, easy to read Units (U) and required assembly tools
  • THE IT PRO’S CHOICE: Designed and built for IT Professionals, this TAA Compliant server rack is backed for 2-years, including free lifetime 24/5 multi-lingual technical assistance
StarTech.com 25U Open Frame Server Rack – 994lb Capacity – 4 Post Adjustable Depth (18.3″ to 39.3″) Network/Communications Equipment Rack w/ Casters (4POSTRACK25)
  • BUILT TO LAST: The communications rack features heavy gauge mounting rails to ensure a stable installation platform, with support for mounting depth adjustment (18.3
  • 39.2 inch)
  • UNIVERSAL DESIGN: This 25U data and communication rack is compliant with EIA-RS-310C standards, has a weight capacity of 994.5 lb (450 kg) and a total product height of 51 in (129.6 cm) with casters
  • ADDED VERSATILITY: The media room component rack features heavy gauge mounting rails to ensure a stable installation platform, with support for mounting depth adjustment (23.5
  • Open frame design lets you easily route, manage and access your equipment cables without any obstruction
Sale
StarTech.com 4-Post 25U Mobile Open Frame Server Rack, 19in Network Rack with Wheels, Rolling Rack for Computer/AV/Data/IT Equipment – Casters, Leveling Feet or Floor Mounting (4POSTRACK25U)
  • ADJUSTABLE DEPTH: 4-Post 25U open frame server rack with 4 vertical rails and adjustable mounting depth 22″ to 40″ (56cm to 101cm); Compatible with various servers / switches / data / AV and other IT equipment; EIA/ECA-310-E Compliant
  • EASY ASSEMBLY: Mobile network rack with easy-to-follow assembly instructions and online video; Compact flat-pack shipping to avoid damage and facilitate installation; Total product height of 50.8in (129cm) with casters, 48in (122cm) without casters
  • COLD ROLLED STEEL: Durable 4 Post 19in open frame rack designed for ventilation with 25U mounting height and 1200lb (544kg) weight capacity (stationary); 3 install options included: casters, levelling feet, or base-plate to secure rack to the floor
  • HARDWARE INCLUDED: Rolling computer/data rack includes cage nuts and screws to mount equipment, easy to read Units (U) and depth adjustment markings, cable management hooks for organization, and required assembly tools
  • THE IT PRO’S CHOICE: Designed and built for IT Professionals, this 25U rack is backed for 2-years, including free lifetime 24/5 multi-lingual technical assistance

Server Rack – 9U – Server Cabinet – for – Network – Electronics – AV Rack – Equipment – Wall Mount Rack – on Feet with Locking Doors 8-Way Power Strip Shelf Fan – 24-inch Deep Sysracks (Black)
  • BUILD AN IT PROJECT YOU LOVE – An IT Enclosure is more than just a steel box. This Solid locking server rack cabinet adds security and stability to your network / computer / AV / server / IT / audio equipment it also gives a stylish look you living / working place
  • WHAT’S INCLUIDED – This server / network equipment rack is supplied with: 8-Outlet rack mount power strip with surge protector, Sturdy Legs / Cooling Fan / cage nuts screws / server rack shelf / 2 X Dust tight Cable Entries / Lockable Doors / Side panels and other HQ accessories – Over $90 Value
  • TECHNICAL PARAMETERS – 9U 24-inch deep server rack / Dimensions: (WxDxH) 24″X24″X19″ / Rolled steel profile / Frame / server rack rails – 1.5mm; other components (inc rack mount shelf) – 1.0-1.2mm / Color – Black / Application – wall mount network rack / standing server rack / home theater cabinet / datacenter rack / rolling network rack
  • EASY TO SET UP AND USE – The computer rack Is Easy Assemble and Set Up due To Welded Frame Design and Quality Hardware / Video Guide and PDF Instructions Provided / No special tools or skills necessary /
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEE – We aim to provide each customer with the highest standard of CS. Quick Customer Service Support. 2 Years Guarantee on all rackmount server racks and accessories.
Network Data Cabinet – 6U Rack Mount – Wall Mount IT Rack – Locking – Server Rack – 24-Inch deep Data Rack – Gray Server Cabinet with POWERBAR/Fan/Shelf/LEVELERS/for Servers – A/V (6U 24″x24″x14.5″)
  • GENERAL INFO: – 6U Server Cabinet 24-Inch External Depth portable server rack can be used as a wall mounted it rack or floor network cabinet. Designed to accommodate 19-inch-Standard equipment rack will fit Audio / Video / Security and other IT devices 21-inch max total depth. ///
  • DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS: – 6U portable server rack is a perfect union of High Quality Build materials and Latest Trends in IT Industry. Re-designed construction is based on our customer’s suggestions over the years while keeping the price within affordable ranges. ///
  • TECHNICAL PARAMETERS: – 6U 24″w x24″d x 14.5″h / lockable server cabinet with Glass front door / Internal Depth 21-Inch / Weight Capacity – 180 Lbs / network rack cabinet with feet/ U-Mark Rails adjustable up to 21-inch apart. ///
  • WHAT YOU GET: – small server rack and all accessories * 8-Socket Powerbar * Cooling Fan * Shelf *Levelers*Brush-Type Cable Entries *Mounting Hardware – Square Cage Nuts *U-Mark Vertical Mounting Rails *Lockable Door Handle locking server cabinet
  • WARRANTY & SUPPORT: Improved Assembly and set-up process / Online Video and PDF Assembly Instructions / Flat Pack Supply facilitates Manipulation *** 3-Years Warrantee / Lifetime Online Tech support / Quick and Reliable Shipping**

Conclusion:

Building a home lab can be a great way to learn about new technologies and gain hands-on experience. However, it’s important to choose the right hardware for your needs. Before purchasing, consider the server cabinet size, weight, features, and price. In addition, you’ll need a quality server, network switch, cables, UPS, and firewall for your home lab. 

With the right equipment, you can build a powerful and expandable home lab that will serve you well for years to come!

Do you want to know what equipment I have in my homelab? I admit I don’t have a rack cabin yet.

Thanks for reading! I hope this has helped you understand what you need to start your own home lab! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact me directly.


Full Disclosure

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Please keep in mind that the quantity or price of items can change at any time.

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