Transportation of SGIs

This page is a list of user/crowd sourced notes on how to transport various systems. This page is free to be edited, as long as preexisting content is not removed without notification of a staff member.


The Onyx was available in two form factors, known as the Deskside (codename Eveready) and the Rack (codename Terminator, sometimes referred to as the Rackmount or, rarely, Rackside). While both systems are large computers, the Rack is significantly larger. Perhaps due to the rarity of images of both systems side-by-side, it is a common misconception that the dimensions of the rack are equal to that of two desksides stacked vertically — in reality, the rack is significantly larger than the deskside in all dimensions. For an accurate size comparison with the two systems in a single picture, see the official Onyx product image, from the SiliconGraphics website circa 1994, below.

The Deskside measures 26 inches in height, 21 inches in width, and 29 inches in length, with a minimum weight of 195lbs. It is worth noting that while 195lbs is a minimum for the system, many deskside Onyxes will be significantly heavier, as the installation of additional components can increase weight significantly. Transporting a deskside Onyx is a difficult, though not impossible task. Small wheels on the bottom make rolling the system directly forwards and backwards relatively easy, though rotating the system will likely require lifting it by the metal handle at the rear of the system. This handle provides a convenient and strong point to lift or turn the system if necessary, and is accessible with or without the installation of plastic skins. If the system must be transported up or down stairs, at least two strong people are required. It is recommended that, during lifting, the system be held at the front and back, as the sides provide no good grip points and the bottom rests too close to the floor to set the system down without repositioning one's fingers. The metal handle provides a good grip at the rear of the system. For the front, it is recommended that the large plastic piece covering the front of the system be removed entirely and transported separately, so that the ventilated metal "box" above the cardcage can be used as a second handhold. Do not attempt to lift the system by its drive slots, skins, or purple front drive door, as none of these parts are strong enough to support the weight of the system. Improper transport of an Onyx deskside can result in damage to the system and its surroundings, as well as injury, so be sure to devise a plan before moving the system, especially where stairs are involved.

The Rack measures 62 inches in height, 27 inches in width, and 48 inches in length, with a minimum weight of 560lbs. Like the Deskside, this can increase drastically as parts are added, with the system's manual listing its maximum weight as 800lbs. Transporting a Rack Onyx is more difficult, simply due to the larger size of the system. While, like the deskside, it is equipped with wheels, the greater weight makes lifting the system very difficult when fully assembled. SGI reseller Ian Mapleson suggests on his website that buyers looking to purchase a Rack Onyx from him remove heavy components such as the exterior panels, the two front doors, the blower fans, and the OLS power supply units before attempting to transport the system, saying that "general mobility (eg. if it has to be moved up some steps) can be greatly improved". While weight can be further reduced by removing the system's boards, Ian notes that it is "only wise to do this if the boards can be properly packed, etc.". He also suggests the rental of a cube van with a lift gate to aid in loading and unloading of the system, and points out that "A truck's tail lift also allows one to maneuver the system over many steps if required".


The Deskside Onyx2 will be covered in this section. The system is a cuboid approx 20x24x27" and weighing from 170lbs to over 300lbs. The unit does have wheels. To transport safely, the best way is to remove the skins and transport them separately. Failing that, it is possible to transport the system without damage very carefully. In order to do so, get a hand truck or push dolley and using a towel to cushion it, carefully slide it up onto the dolley. It can then be hoisted into a truck and carefully padded to protect.

Onyx2 plastics are incredibly brittle and should be stored in air conditioned, climate controlled storage. Do not cheap out on this; it is not worth the unpleasantness of watching 20+ year old plastics crack and shatter.

To lighten the load, removal of the node boards, raster managers and PCI cage is easily done. With removal of the front skin, it is also possible to remove the fan tray and PSU. The front skin is held on by a single screw in the bottom grille and a number of clips and slides DOWNWARD.

Origin 2000

For moving Origin 2000 and Onyx2 racks, 80 inches of clearance are needed, either vertically or horizontally, plus 40x26 for the lateral dimensions of the crack. It is best, due to the fact they can weigh more than 800lbs, to unrack the units and move them individually, but this is not always possible.

Care should be had in removing the plastics for transport.