Today we have something a little bit different for the STH community, a review of the 12U 19-inch desktop open frame rack (model RK12OD.) In this case, a picture tells you almost all you need to know about the product. It is only about 23 inches tall and under 11.5 inches deep so it provides a very compact platform. We have had some time to work with the unit and are ready to publish a review. Before we get started, we purchased the review unit for around $45 on Amazon with Prime shipping which seems reasonable.
The Startech 12U 19-Inch Desktop Open Frame 2 Post Rack (RK12OD)
The unit itself is actually around 13U high, however the last U should be used for the bottom brace effectively making it a 12U unit. Assembly is very easy. There are two posts, two floor supports and one bottom brace along with eight screws for assembling the unit. There are also rubber feet to provide some vibration dampening and not scratch floors or desks it may be mounted on.
Some suggestions when using the rack:
- Be very careful when loading. Make sure you follow weight guidelines. Also try to put heavier and deeper items lower in the rack.
- There is a slight backward angle on the rack. That means if you do shelf mount components on the rack, you will want to secure them.
- We would have liked to have seen Startech provide more cage nuts and bolts. There are essentially four sets of four nuts/ bolts so if you are adding or 2U units you will need to go purchase more cage nuts/ bolts.
- Numbering on each post spot. 12U is really easy to manage, however when you do install the first piece of gear it is not easy to see where you are installing it. We would suggest using a label maker to fix this but it should be on the unit itself.
- Since the bottom of the rack is open, you could install something like a Supermicro SYS-5028D-TN4T unit on the bottom desk/ floor and use the upper rack mount spots for equipment. Those chassis take up about the first 5U from the bottom. Because of the lean, the sixth U (counting from the bottom) will need to be a very short depth unit or cable organizer. Likewise we tried a U-NAS NSC-800 NAS chassis which took the bottom 3U and would require the 4th U to be very short depth, a cable organizer or something similar.
- Watch out for how you place items in the rack. The top is bendable to the point that you can produce enough bend to make some servers not fit in the rack. We were able to bend to the top mounts inward enough that our Tripp Lite PDU/ switch combo had mounting holes that did not line up.
Here is a shot as we started to popular the rack.
Our suggested accessories:
- Cage nuts 50 pack – you can never have enough of these. You will also need about 48 nut/bolt sets for the unit if you use 1U shelves and gear. I actually prefer standard bolts to the long ones that come with this unit.
- Some sort of cable organization – look for both side-mount and 1U cable management solutions. For inexpensive options here is a low cost 1U unit and a low cost ring.
- A 1U rack shelf or two – these are great for when you have odds and ends (e.g. Intel NUC devices) and want to get them organized and in the rack. We have seen ARM boards like the Raspberry Pi 3 Velcro’d or zip tied to shelves.
- A 1U switch – e.g. the Mikrotik CRS226 we looked at a few months ago or if you want PoE something like the TrippLite unit we reviewed.
Overall this unit was very fast to setup and is sturdier than we expected. For under $45 it is certainly better than leaving rackmount gear on tables, desks or the floor. Overall this is not the most complex product as is an inert steel frame combined with nuts and bolts. We still found the unit highly functional and a nice compact rack for home or office use.
Bought this rack to stuff two servers, amp, receiver and control system. Very functional and looks great. Thanks for the accessories suggestions. Brought back great memories of racking and stacking network and server boxes, as you can pick component options. Need to buy another to justify building more low-power servers. 🙂
As another tip, I was able to install a Startech 16″ 2u shelf on the lower location by flipping the flimsy support legs 180″. This was a good move as the shelf provided additional support to the frame, lower center of gravity for stability and recover additional volume to add more gear in the higher spaces.