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A computer cabinet is an enclosure with fitted, fixed or removable side panels and doors. The cabinet contains a computer rack for mounting computers or other electronic equipment. Cabinets come in a variety of sizes, colors and styles and may contain baffles and fans to facilitate cooling and minimize recycled and bypass airflow.
The terms rack and cabinet are often used interchangeably. However, a rack refers to the frame for actually mounting computers and other electronic equipment, while a cabinet is fitted with doors and side panels and may enclose a rack.
A well-designed computer or server cabinet should provide significant segregation between cool air supply and hot air return. To prevent bypass air, blanking panels may be used. These fit into empty rack space, preventing cool air from moving though a cabinet without cooling the electronics. The panels can also prevent hot air (from the servers installed above and below an empty space) from pushing its way back into the system through the intakes.
Cold air needs to easily flow into computer cabinets, while hot air needs to easily flow out. Blanking panels by themselves are not enough. Internal air dams inside the cabinets are recommended to separate the front from the back and thus prevent recycled or bypass airflow.