Server racks and data centers are all about fitting the maximum amount of equipment into limited floor space. That’s why a 1U keyboard drawer is a perfect fit for rackmount server setups. Taking up just 1.75 vertical inches, it provides necessary user access without wasting precious rack real estate.
The Challenges of Rack Space
Standard server racks are 19 inches wide with rails spaced 17.75 inches apart. Gear gets mounted vertically in units called “rack units” or “U”. Each U is 1.75 inches tall. So a 1U server is just 1.75 inches high. A 2U UPS battery backup module consumes 3.5 inches. And so on.
Rack space fills up extremely fast with servers, switches, PDUs and cable managers. Finding room for keyboard, monitor and mouse access is difficult. But users need some way to control and manage equipment in the rack.
The 1U Solution
A 1U keyboard drawer takes up the bare minimum space – just 1.75 vertical inches. But it provides ample room for a compact keyboard with integrated touchpad or trackball mouse alternative. It tucks away underneath the rack until needed.
This ultra low-profile design conserves precious rack space for revenue-generating rackmount servers and equipment. It also keeps the server area clutter-free for better airflow.
Mounting Under the Rack
While 1U may seem too small for a keyboard, the drawer itself mounts underneath the rack, not inside it. The sturdy metal drawer attaches securely to the rack rails towards the bottom of the rack.
The drawer slides out horizontally to bring the keyboard, mouse and KVM cables to a usable position. Small cable management arms neatly route cables down to the hidden drawer. It then retracts back under the rack completely out of the way.
Choosing the Right 1U Keyboard
Of course the keyboard itself must also have a 1U slimline design to fit in the shallow drawer. Look for quality low-profile mechanical key switches designed for the data center, not a cheap membrane. Keys should resist minor spills and wear.
Many 1U keyboards offer built-in KVM switches or hotkeys to control rack devices. For smooth mouse control, pick a keyboard with either an integrated touchpad or compact trackball built in.
Adding a Small Monitor
Some 1U drawers also accommodate an ultra-slim rackmount LCD monitor. A 1U or 2U monitor allows viewing server displays without consuming additional rack space. Just be sure to factor the display weight into the drawer’s weight capacity.
With integrated KVM switches, the monitor connects to the keyboard drawer to seamlessly switch between rack servers. This creates a complete and compact rack access station using minimal rack real estate.
Alternatives to 1U Keyboard Drawers
If you don’t have available mounting space under the rack, other options can save rack space:
Retractable shelf keyboard trays Fold down out of the way into 2U or 3U.
Desktop thin clients Access rack servers remotely with a small standalone thin client.
KVM switches Use remote KVM over IP devices or enterprise KVM matrix switches.
DCIM software Monitor rack devices on screen using Data Center Infrastructure Management software.
However, for direct rack access, a 1U keyboard drawer creates the smallest possible physical footprint. It’s a smart choice for maximizing rack density.
Benefits Beyond Space Saving
A 1U keyboard drawer does more than just save space:
- Allows rack access without a bulky console crash cart.
- Keeps keyboards secure – out of sight when not in use.
- Frees up desk space for other tasks.
- Simplifies cable management down to the drawer.
- Can be locked to prevent unauthorized usage.
For maximum usability combined with superior space utilization, a slim 1U keyboard drawer is ideal for busy server rack applications. Careful setup provides a compact yet very functional rack control station.
Every inch matters when configuring high-density server racks. A 1U keyboard drawer mounted underneath the rack takes up minimal space while delivering convenient server access right where it’s needed most. For space-constrained data centers looking to optimize their racks, the ultra-low profile 1U keyboard drawer deserves serious consideration.