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REVIEW Fractal Design Node 804 MicroATX Case

Discussion in 'Overclocking & Hardware' started by lui_gough, Sep 22, 2014.

  1. lui_gough

    lui_gough Member

    Sep 18, 2007
    Chester Hill, NSW, AU
    Thanks to Lihan Wang of Fractal Design and Overclockers Australia for running the “Need Your Voice” competition and choosing me as one of their lucky ten recipients to review and keep this case.

    [size=+2]I have written a full and detailed review with a complete tour of the case at http://goughlui.com/?p=9815.[/size]

    For my build, I opted to go for a file-server with graphics build which revolves around the Intel Pentium Anniversary Edition CPU and Asrock Z97M Anniversary Edition Motherboard. The pictures of the insides are as follows:

    For those who don't want to go into detail, I will sum it up by reiterating the conclusion ...

    The Fractal Design Node 804 is an attractive, slightly larger cube style case which offers a stylish brushed aluminium and mesh front, and perspex window on the side. Most importantly, it offers a multitude of flexibility in the interior which would satisfy the needs of many enthusiasts looking to build a small but powerful machine.

    The use of the microATX form factor relieves us from some of the limitations of miniITX, allowing for more motherboard choices, peripheral expansion and RAM slots.

    Being slightly larger, there is no need to compromise on cooling, with space for four fans on the front, four fans on the top and two fans on the rear. Of course, these can be exchanged to mount closed-loop water-cooling radiators for high performance applications. Three quality fluid bearing 120mm fans and dust filters which can easily be removed for cleaning without having to remove any panels are included. The depth of the case easily accommodates CPU coolers up to 160mm in height, so high performance users can easily accommodate tower coolers such as the Noctua NH-D14 with ease.

    There is also no need to compromise on drive storage as well, with eight 3.5″ hard disk bays provided in four cages, with two additional mounting spaces underneath the motherboard that accommodate either 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives. Two further 2.5″ HDD/SDD mounting points are provided for in the front cover, as well as a space for a slot loading slim optical drive.

    With the long body, it is also capable of accommodating virtually any graphic card on the market (even high performance cards are often 30.5cm long, and the Node 804 is capable of 32cm with the front fan removed).

    The clever dual chamber design also offers dividends in cooling, and making cable management a snap, and hiding unsightly drives out of the way of the side window. Wide cut-outs are provided in the tray to allow for piping and wire bundles to easily traverse the two chambers.

    In all, the slightly larger design does make building a lot less frustrating, as it removes many of the tradeoffs inherent with smaller cases (e.g. longer power supply obscures optical drive bay, or optical drive limits length of graphic card). It also eases access to the components.

    On the downside, the case doesn’t feature a provision for a full size optical drive. While this is likely due to the size and aesthetics, slimline slot-loading drives are less common and are typically less reliable, slower and feature lower durability and burn quality as compared to full size desktop drives. However, this is likely to be of limited importance, as most users are moving away from optical media entirely.

    The basic fan controller included has only three channels, and does not feature any RPM monitoring for the motherboard. Due to the lack of external bays, it does not seem possible to mount aftermarket fan controllers into this case.

    While building the system, the case had a level of torxional flex (i.e. it sort of “twisted” slightly). While at first, it felt a little unusual, it did not indicate any real problem. It is probably down to the materials which were used, that keep the case’s weight to a manageable 6kg.

    Furthermore, the case itself is slightly less quiet than some other Fractal Design cases owing to the fact there are so many fan cut-outs which allow for the sound of the internal system components to escape unmuffled. That being said, the drive vibration grommets are effective at reducing the vibration noise of the drives, and the supplied fans are quiet especially at the low and medium settings. Fitting more fans would allow for the fans to be run at low speed and still provide the necessary airflow. All of the panels fitted well, and no resonance vibrations were audible.

    Finally, despite using thumbscrews in most places to go “tool-less”, fitting of 3.5mm and 2.5mm hard drives did require the use of a Philips head screwdriver.

    In all, these are very minor points, and the case was a pleasurable one to build with. The case definitely has appeal to those looking to build a stylish, high performance, compact PC by eliminating many drawbacks and inflexibilities experienced with cases that are only slightly smaller.

    It is definitely worthy of your consideration if you’re looking to build that HTPC gaming file-server … for example. The price is comparable to other cases in its class when you consider the inclusion of three fluid-bearing 120mm fans (which aren’t inexpensive on their own).

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