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Choosing the Right Rackmount Keyboard Drawer for Your Server Setup

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Rackmount keyboard drawers are an important accessory for any server rack. Mounted under the rack, they pull out to provide a stable platform for a keyboard, mouse and monitor. This allows convenient access to servers and networking equipment mounted in the rack above. 

Choosing the right keyboard drawer for your specific equipment rack and data center environment is key. Here are the main factors to consider when selecting a rackmount keyboard drawer.

Construction and Build Quality

Like most rackmount hardware, you want a sturdy keyboard drawer made from metal with a powder coated finish to resist scratches. Look for a robust slide mechanism that smoothly extends and retracts without wobble. It should have a weight capacity of 25 lbs or more.

The drawer should have an integrated cable management track or arm to neatly route cables from the servers down to your keyboard, mouse and monitor below. Make sure the drawer is deep enough for your keyboard and allows clearance above for sliding in and out.

Rack Compatibility

Pay close attention to the rack unit (RU) height of the keyboard drawer. It must be compatible with the vertical space available in your specific equipment rack. Most racks have 1.75” of usable space per RU.

Common keyboard drawer heights include 1RU, 2RU or 3RU. Measure the exact space you have to work with in your rack to ensure a proper fit. Also confirm the drawer has front and rear rail mounting holes spaced properly for your rack’s posts.

Keyboard and Mouse Platform 

The most basic fixed shelf drawers just give you a flat, tilting surface for your keyboard and mouse. If you’ll be frequently changing positions, look for an adjustable drawer with 15 degrees to 30 degrees of tilt capability. Or consider a model with an articulating arm to position the platform.

For precision mouse work, you may want a drawer with a separate pull-out mousing surface. Some come with a gel wrist rest for ergonomic support as well. Or you can add your own.

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Monitor Mounting Options

Check that the keyboard drawer can accommodate your LCD monitor as well. Fixed shelves generally don’t work for a monitor because the viewing angle will be too vertical. You’ll need either a tilting/retracting VESA mount or articulated monitor arm.

Verify your monitor’s VESA mount holes match up with the drawer’s mounting pattern. And ensure the arm or tilt mechanism allows your monitor to extend forward and angle down enough for a comfortable viewing position.

Weight Capacity 

Make sure the keyboard drawer is rated to safely hold the combined weight of your keyboard, mouse, monitor and any other devices you plan to place on it. Heavier flat panel monitors may require a higher weight capacity.

Cable Management

Your keyboard, mouse and monitor will have power cords and video cabling that need to run cleanly from the rear of your rack down to the drawer. Look for integrated cable management in the form of hooks, brackets, conduits or other routing paths.

Locking and Access Control

Most rackmount keyboard drawers have simple slide locks to keep the unit retracted into the rack until needed. Some also offer key locking mechanisms for additional security. This prevents unauthorized use in public or shared rack locations.

Integrated KVM Switch Option

Higher end keyboard drawers have KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switches integrated directly into the drawer. This allows convenient control of multiple servers from the single keyboard, monitor and mouse.

Conclusion

The optimal keyboard drawer accommodates your rack height, equipment weight and viewing needs while securely managing cables. High quality metal construction provides durability along with smooth extension and tilt positioning. Take measurements and consider all your component needs as well as frequent access requirements before selecting the right keyboard drawer for your rack setup. Proper installation will greatly improve server access and usability.

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