by John Basile
Why Professionals Prefer Rackmount Equipment
From as far back as I could remember, TV stations and mobile production vehicles always were adorned with walls full of equipment racks. Rack mounting equipment served many purposes with convenience, security, and accident prevention being among the chief reasons. The ability to securely place an expensive piece of equipment in a fixed location also made training and maintenance easier as well, since the unit never moved—even if the surrounding workspace was still mobile.
The “Breadbox” Chassis
When PC-based, all-in-one video production solutions first appeared on the market, they bucked this trend with a non-racked form factor. The first of these units begging for professional acceptance was the NewTek TriCaster PRO. The TriCaster Pro promised a lot of features in a very totable “breadbox” chassis, yet problems persisted as it was still hard for professional broadcasters to fully embrace the technology packed within this form factor.
Range of Products Available in the Market Today
Jump ahead to today and you’ll encounter a variety of all-in-one video production and streaming solutions currently being offered. From the ultracompact Switchblade Splyce X2, to the cube-tower hybrid design used for the latest versions of The Dude PC, there are a lot of options from which to choose in today’s marketplace. Despite this variety offered from many different manufacturers, it became abundantly clear over the past year or so at Stream Dudes, that the rackmount design still is the most popular choice with professionals.
Customer and Industry Influence
Among the many tasks I perform daily, speaking to customers and industry colleagues makes for a large portion. Not only does this task help me stay atop of industry trends and needs, it also gives me the knowledge I need to help offer and develop better products. It was from these calls and conversations that I decided to revisit our outgoing designs of our Dude Racks and hone the product further for 2020.
With constant changes in technology comes constant evolution and our newest series of The Dude Rack exemplifies that quite well. There was no need to reinvent a successful formula, but rather improve upon it to bring a professional-grade form factor to more people. The biggest challenge we faced was packing in as much performance as we could into a 2U rack system.
Form Challenges Function
Unlike the DIYers or weekend builders, our Dude PCs are all factory-built, predesigned, and engineered prior to being offered for sale. It was during this stringent engineering phase that we noticed the beefy design of the 16xx and 20xx series of NVIDIA graphic cards would make integrating into a 2U platform difficult. Yes, we could have used older generation graphics cards, but we didn’t want to sacrifice performance or force a fit that would cause inadequate cooling within a 2U, 20” depth rack.
The Single Most Important Component
Working with the engineering team and vMix, we found the perfect solution came in the form of the NVIDIA Quadro graphics card—a card specifically designed for professional workstations. This single important component provides our customers with the ability to have a powerful video production solution that conveniently and securely fits into a rack or portable rack case. The ability to safely transport The Dude Rack from one production to another is very attractive to customers.
More Performance for Mission-Critical use
One of the important factors that allows The Dude Rack to be trusted by my many content producers around the country, is the performance of our machines. Since these rack units would be “parked” within a confined space (like in a portable rack case or within a large wall rack with other equipment) and operated non-stop, no sacrifices were made with the quality of the components or with system cooling. Therefore, properly built rackmount systems like The Dude Rack are well-suited for mission-critical use.
New Racks Suited to Rigors of Travel and Continuous Use
Unlike most streaming solutions built from an off -the-shelf PC, our new Dude Racks feature components that are more suited to the rigors of travel and continuous use. Additionally, our vMix rack solutions feature hot-swappable, trayless, SSD drive bays (standard on the Advanced, Elite, and Pro Dude Rack models). This option (hot-swap bays) makes adding media, additional storage, or removing files in the field easy. Not to mention, when doing a production job for a client, it is very easy to hand them a drive with all of their data without delay.
Why Make the Switch?
The advantage of a rackmount powerhouse like The Dude Rack series is a great way to take your broadcasts to another level. Having the ability to swap out storage as needed, safely move the unit from location to location, or to simply keep your workflow/studio layout better organized, our new versions of The Dude Rack delivers professional-grade versatility.
Whether you are moving up from an older TriCaster or staring fresh with a new system, everyone can take advantage of our vMix-powered Dude Rack. With prices starting under $5,000 for an “NDI Only” model, there is a Dude Rack for everyone and for every budget. To learn more about The Dude Rack and to see which model is right for your needs, visit https://streamdudes.com/the-dude-rack/ for more information.