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Kool Tools

Volume Number: 21 (2005)
Issue Number: 12
Column Tag: Reviews

Kool Tools


by MacTech Staff

Noise Reduction Rack Mount Cabinet

You walk into the room and are immediately berated by the thrumming and buzzing of machines. You try to stay cool and keep focused on what you're doing, but there's only so much anyone can take. The noise just keeps drumming into your brain making you wonder, "Is this what Chinese water torture is like?" This used to be the server room here at MacTech. And, if you are in the media world, it's not a matter of what is tolerable, it's just not acceptable.

Now things are much different. We have recently become a much less tortured group thanks to the XRackPro. The XRackPro, made by GizMac Accessories, is a rack mount enclosure cabinet designed to reduce noise and add mobility to Apple's Xserve line of servers and RAID systems.

Specifically, it's a rack unit on wheels that provides 12U of industry standard 19" wide rack mount space. Each 1U of rack space is marked.

During the past several months, we've had several different types of rack mount units ... from Xserve's, to tape drives, to even a couple of super loud Linux boxes. The XRackPro not only is a beautiful box, it significantly reduced the noise -- making even some of the loudest units tolerable.

We had a few concerns before the cabinet arrived. One was accessibility. The thought of getting your arm stuck inside of the cabinet was not too appealing. We were thus happy to discover that all four sides of the cabinet are removable. So no one lost an arm during installation.

Another concern was making it work to fit our needs. Having several other machines besides an Xserve that we wanted to put in the cabinet we wondered how well everything would fit. So we were happy to find fully adjustable mounting rails which allowed us to configure the cabinet to our own specific needs.

At first, we were wondering whether we would like the "cage nuts" approach that GizMac took, but we grew to see the merits of using cage nuts for mounting. Just make sure in your planning that you have enough of them.

The one thing that we didn't like about the XRackPro was the cable guides that mounted on the rails inside the unit. They came undone far too easily to really be useful. Fortunately, it wasn't particularly important.

This left us with our most pressing concern. Will the noise be reduced? We're happy to say it is greatly reduced. In fact, the louder the device you are mounting, the more impact the XRackPro will have on it in reducing the sound. All of the exterior panels are lined with specially engineered acoustical foam. Each door opening is sealed and all wire grommets come with foam inserts. The manufacturer claims 75% reduction in noise levels. What we can tell you is that there's a noticeable difference between when the front door of the unit is open vs. closed.

There was one other feature that we have found to be a real lifesaver, the ability to have mobility. The cabinet has 4 heavy duty casters. The XRackPro made our recent move MUCH easier at several different points. First, we were able to prep for the move by building the XRack out. On moving day, those servers were only down for about an hour as they were moved from one location to another. In addition, while we were building out the new server room at the new location, the rack was able to temporarily be in one room, and then easily rolled in later. It rolls easily across carpet and also makes getting to the rear of the cabinet a snap.

So if you find yourself being sick and tired of the noise that comes with having several machines running at once, or if you need to have easier access to your Xserve, you should consider an XRackPro.

$1799 is the list price, with additional accessories available.

The MacTech Staff are a group of hard workers whose goal is to bring you great new information on all things related to the Macintosh.


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