RM0120FX 1U Basic System Installation Tutorial





For experienced technicians, assembling a specialized 1U server or a PC blade is just as simple and straightforward as a regular full-size server.  However, for most people with basic computer knowledge, assembling a 1U server on their first try will run into obstacles they would not normally see on a regular full-size server.  These obstacles or mistakes can be avoided with a quick demonstration.  The following presentation will demonstrate the installation of a typical system in a 1U chassis.

This demonstration will be based on the RM0120FX 1U chassis.  The RM0120FX is a very straightforward chassis with excellent ventilation.  One of the vital concepts to keep in mind when assembling a 1U server is the height consideration.  1U is equivalent to 1.75” in height.  If a system is to fit in a 1U space, the height you have to work with inside the chassis will be less than 1.75” in height.  Also please keep in mind there is a certain amount of space required between the components and the chassis to prevent a short circuit.  The motherboard mounting area on the bottom of the RM0120FX chassis has a non-conductive lining to prevent the motherboard from short-circuiting with the bottom of the chassis.  Please do not remove this protective lining.  This lining is NOT a factory scratch protection seal and is required to be there for the proper operation of the unit.

Another typical area of confusion is the selection of the motherboard.  As long as the motherboard does not exceed the 1U height rule, the motherboard will most likely fit.  Some other motherboards can also fit with slight modifications.  One typical component that prevents proper mounting in a 1U chassis is the vertical audio port that is found on modern motherboards.  This audio port is slightly higher than the chassis and will not fit in any 1U chassis.  For novice users we recommend staying away from these motherboards.  The motherboards with these audio ports can be easily modified to fit by applying some minor professional services.  However, these professional services are beyond the scope of this tutorial and will not be discussed here.  Please read the disclaimer on the bottom of this page.

The I/O shield on the back of the chassis is a concern that is subjective.  The I/O shield’s function is to filter out EM interference, promote proper airflow, and improve the cosmetic appeal by bridging the gaps on the back of the unit.  Some users argue that the I/O shield’s contribution to the performance of the system is so minor that they do not even bother installing the shield.  Although the I/O shield is typically supplied with the motherboard, the motherboard I/O shield is too high to fit on a 1U chassis.  Therefore the 1U chassis will come with its own I/O shield.  In our instance of the RM0120FX, the chassis comes with I/O shield #14 installed and I/O shield #7.  A different I/O shield may be requested in place of the default I/O shield.

The other typical issues concern the heatsink and low profile memory.  These two obstacles have already been solved for you at Rackmount.com.  The low profile heatsink and memory are available for order on the RM0120FX page on Rackmount.com.  Solving these two issues are as simple as plug and go.  In our demonstration, we will use a specialized heatsink that is rated for 3.4 GHz processors.  For most users, CPU-X4-B1, CPU-P4-B1, and CPU-P3-B1 are much cleaner and simpler solutions.

Lastly, before we begin the tutorial, we would like to mention that most computer components are electrostatic sensitive.  We strongly recommend wearing an electrostatic discharge strap to maintain proper grounding.  If such a device is not available, grounding oneself by touch a grounded object is essential to prevent shocking your sensitive investment.  With all that said, let us proceed with the demonstration. 

Demonstration Materials

Items from Rackmount.com


Price at time of publishing

RM0120FX chassis

1U chassis with 250 Watts power supply

$135 (new product promotional price)

1U low-profile heatsink

CPU-X4-B1 for Xeon, up to 3.06 GHz
CPU-P4-B1 for P4, up to 3.06 GHz
CPU-P3-B1 for P3, up to 1.4 GHz
CPU-X4-B2, specialized, Xeon/P4 3.4 GHz


Kingston 512 MB low-profile memory

512MB 1.25" height low-profile Kingston memory DDR 266MHz PC2100
Kingston part # KVR266X64C2/512 -OR- KVR266X64C25/512


(Optional) 32 bit Riser Kit – includes 32-bit PCI riser and slot bracket

PCI riser card that allows the 90 degree installation of a PCI card in a 1U space; rear mounting slot bracket is included


(Optional) Cold-Swap IDE ATA 100/133 Backplane kit

Kit includes one round IDE cable, one accessory power Y-split cable, and one IDE cold-swap backplane


(For 4 post rack only) Rear-bracket

Rear mount bracket set for 4 post rack



Standard 52X CD-ROM Reader, black color





Commodity Market Items



Gigabyte GA-8I845GV motherboard



Intel Pentium 4 processor



Hard drive(s)




1-  Heatsink retainer bracket installation

For the installation of the heatsink retention bracket, please follow the installation instructions on your motherboard manual using the retention bracket included with the heatsink.
Short circuit warning:  Some motherboard batches are manufactured with protruding solder points near the heatsink area.  A motherboard with protruding CPU solder points will short circuit if it comes in contact with the bottom retention bracket.  The short circuit will burn out your motherboard and CPU.  Although most bottom retainer brackets comes with proper insulation, there are some brackets that have no insulation.  In this demonstration we insulated the bottom retainer bracket by inserting a non-conductive lining between the bottom plate and the motherboard.  The non-conductive lining is show on the left, on top of the bottom retention plate.

2-  Picture of the retainer bracket after being installed on motherboard

3-  Picture of the bottom of the retainer bracket after being installed on motherboard

4-  CPU and memory installation

Install the CPU and memory as instructed in your motherboard manual.  Please remember to apply the thermal grease on the CPU or the CPU will overheat.

5-  Heatsink installation

Orient the heatsink blower to move the path of airflow towards the rear blower in the chassis.  Typically, the chassis rear blower will be next to the keyboard and mouse ports on the motherboard.  On most units, there is only two ways you can orient the blower.  With the heatsink in the retention bracket, lock the retainer arms in place.  Please double check that the retainer arms are locked in place or the retainer arms will release and the CPU will overheat.  If you are using the CPU-X4-B2, the blower should mount next to the heatsink by clamping the metal edge between the retainer arm and heatsink.  Plug the heatsink power cable in the appropriate power slot on the motherboard.  The motherboard is now ready to be installed in the chassis.  Please set the motherboard aside in a safe place with proper electrostatic protection.

Note:  This demonstration utilizes the specialized CPU-X4-B2 heatsink.  If you are using CPU-X4-B1, CPU-P4-B1, or CPU-P3-B1, the heatsink is in one piece.

6-  Accessory drive bay installation

Following the picture on the left, the CD-ROM installs into the 5.25” drive bay on the left side.  The CD-ROM bay is a snug fit so please be patient.  The thumbscrews on either side will secure the CD-ROM in place.  The hard drive should be installed in one of the two drive caddies.  For floppy drives (not shown), you will need the ‘Caddy120-FD’ open caddy to properly mount the floppy drive.

7-  Mount the hard drive on the 3.5” drive caddy as shown in the forward position.  Mounting the drive in the forward position is required if you are using the ‘RM0120FX-1X-IDE’ cold swap kit or the ‘RM0120-SCA’ SCSI hard drive hot-swap backplane.

8-  (Optional accessory) Hard drive hot/cold swap backplane installation

If you have the ‘RM0120FX-1X-IDE’ cold swap kit (shown on the left) or the ‘RM0120-SCA’ SCSI hard drive hot-swap backplane, you will want to install it before inserting the hard drive.

9-  Install the hot or cold swap backplane behind the drive caddy slot in which you will utilize the hard drive.  There two screws provided with the backplane to mount onto the chassis.


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Disclaimer:  PCW Microsystems, Inc. is not liable for any damages caused by this tutorial.  Modifications to any original equipment are not recommended and will void the warranty.  All services described in this tutorial should be performed by licensed professionals.

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 PCW Microsystems, Inc. 134 Linden Avenue, Westbury, NY 11590 Tel: 516-997-5050 Fax: 516-997-5784