Data Center Peeps - Mac In A Rack?

Having just discovered that I can get rackmount data storage (QNAP) I’m moving back toward my “Mac in a rack” plan that I was considering a ways back.

Basically, I currently have:

  • Two Mac Minis, networked using the 2 (100Mbps) Ethernet ports on my wireless gateway.
  • 5 external drives of various sizes.
  • A cheap UPS

What I’d ideally like to have is:

  • Two Mac Minis
  • Larger sized drives to get rid of my patchwork of small externals
  • A nice enclosure for those drives (QNAP TR-004U is what I’m considering)
  • Some manner of separate cooling. I’ve never been happy with how hot my equipment gets.
  • A separate network switch so I can quickly plug in laptops & things I’m working on, and upgrade that component as needed.
  • A UPS with the ability to run everything in this rack, plus my monitor, for 20-ish minutes (longer term - I know this will be more expensive!)
  • Maybe separate power management (just a panel with switches)

From what I can tell Minis chunk into a 1U enclosure nicely, QNAP enclosures would let me connect drives, and I could handle power / cooling a little more centrally. Upgrades could be relatively modular and done over time, and if I ever need to move the setup to someplace else (out of town for a couple weeks sometimes), the rack would basically have 1 or 2 external cables to unplug and it could be loaded into the car.

I was actually thinking of grabbing a more ruggedized, musician-style enclosure as they’re already built for moving around.

From what I can tell, I shouldn’t need too much depth. Mac Minis, drive enclosures, UPS, switches, etc. are all relatively shallow - as long as I don’t want to be throwing in old 1U “pizza boxes” for some purpose. :smiley:

Anybody done something like this for a home / small biz setup? Advice for hardware, rack depth, vertical sizing considerations (number of U), etc.?

At one time I had two Mac minis and a 5 drive Drobo setting on a single shelf with room to spare. The minis were set vertical for cooling and only had “bookends” for support. Not elegant but they didn’t have room to move even if someone could shake the 300 lb rack they were on.

Configurable_2Post_Rack_Shelf_Vented_13_Inch

I purchased all the racks for my company’s servers and phone system from Rack Solutions. Maybe you can find what you need there.

https://www.racksolutions.com

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That’s good info - thanks! Generally speaking, do you think I’m correct in not needing a very deep rack for all the stuff I mentioned?

This is making my Network admin tendencies to itch. I’ve always wanted to do something like this at home, but have never had the space (it’s all tucked into the back of my desk) I’m also pleasantly surprised by how relatively cheap the QNAP is (without drives) for DAS.

I think that this will work grand.

Will you have a QNAP per Mac Mini, or will you share the drives via Mac Mini 1 to Mac Mini 2?

I’d love for you to post details of the enclosures you’re looking at too.

You could also buy a rack mountable UPS which will slot straight in.

The QNAP looks pretty narrow front to back, so I wouldn’t think you’d need a deep rack.

Yes, the macs only need something to sit on and an inch of space between them. Your other equipment will determine the amount of room you need.

And of course the Mac Mini’s can sit flat.

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Yes. The one thing you don’t want to do is stack them on each other, due to the heat.

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Yeah, you don’t want to whack your Macs in the rack!

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search for 1u mac mini mount. There are some good options out there… don’t forget to put a rackmounted UPS in as well.

standard rack size will do with room to spare. Take a ⅓ or ½ height and you might want to put it in the corner or under a desk. Do you want to access with RDP or have a networked KVM switch?

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That 1U dual enclosure is exactly the sort of thing I was looking at. I wasn’t planning to do KVM or anything - I’m just going to have a dock that lives under my desk. That way theoretically I should just have a single cable coming out of the enclosure, and if I move things I can bring whatever part(s) I need.

But a KVM might be a good option too. :smiley:

Been there. It’s unpleasant.

Right now everything is connected to the “server”, and access is network-based. One QNAP for the rack, unless things get crazy. :slight_smile:

I was considering something like this → https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/RotoRk12--skb-1skb-r12u-roto-rack-case

In theory it’s designed to lug heavy audio gear, so it should handle this stuff no problem. And it has built-in handles. If not that one, something similar - plus or minus how many U I need for my stuff, of course.

That’s what I was thinking. They’re pricier in my experience, but I’ll see what I can come up with. Do you happen to know of any that are good and not as crazy-expensive as brands like APC?

I have designed my 10U rack already :wink: . 2 Mac Minis, 12 bay NAS, UPS and all of my Ubiquiti network equipment router, switches etc. Just need to find the house or room it can go into and humm away… so I can have a study without any fan noise at all…definitely a criteria I will add to my next house search :wink:

Yes, rack mount equipment is generally more expensive. Smaller, non-rackmount units are frequently on sale, so I would shop around. I’ve always purchased APC for my personal use. They are reliable and, IMO, competitively priced.

I’ve installed a few of these over the years:
https://www.sonnettech.com/product/rackmacmini.html

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What were your choices for the NAS / UPS?

Out of curiosity, any particular reason you chose that one over other models?

Synology and APS are the brands I prefer …

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I’m thinking of doing something similar. I have two 2014 Mac mini.

I’ll get something like the Sonnet Tech

No need for a KVM as I use Remotix Hub

I was considering the QNAP NAS as well but I’m tempted to roll my own using TrueNAS
maybe using a DIY NAS with spinning drives and SSD in an Icy Dock Tough Armor

Haven’t decided on a rackmount UPS yet. Looking at APC or Surge-X

Does that work substantially better than Screen Sharing?

That is aesthetically pleasing. I’ve got a little server rack in my office but, 9U, with a TP-Link 20 port unmanaged switch, which is 1U rack mounted, a CyberPower 1U rack mount UPS, 1500VA, a 1U CyberPower power strip because I ran out of outlets on the UPS, a Synology 920+ 4-bay NAS running Homebridge and a few Docker containers, Synology Surveillance Station, and backup storage for video and photo archives. Then I’ve got a couple Raspberry Pis in there, one running a Home Assistant instance and the other running Pi-hole. I have another instance of Home Assistant as a test/dev instance in a Docker container on my Synology.

Then I have the regular hubs; Philips Hue, eufy, and Ring for my Ring Alarm system.

I tried to put the whole thing together nicely and the server cage I have has a door and some ventilation but I still keep a fan going by it; my office gets super hot in the summers so I need that extra cooling. Not sure if I could get a fan or something inside the cage.

I had two extra Mac Minis that I could have used to Rack a Mac but other folks in my life needed new machines and I really wasn’t sure what rack mounting Macs would do. Not sure if macOS server is still a thing.

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