Fractal Design NODE 304 Review
It is time to look at a new PC case. This time the case is for people who want / need a small PC but depending on needs still can get everything they need into it.
The Case we are going to look at today is the NODE 304 from fractal design, they have developed some great PC cases through the years and have the best cool and quiet case on the market today with their Define R4.
About fractal design
THE CONCEPT OF FRACTAL DESIGN
The concept of Fractal Design is to provide products with an extraordinary design level, without compromising the important factors of quality, functionality and pricing. The computer of today has come to play a central role in most people’s home, creating a demand for appealing dsign of the computer itself and its accessories. Our main product areas are computer enclosures, power supplies and related accessories
DESIGNED AND ENGINEERED IN SWEDEN
All Fractal Design products have been thoroughly designed, tested and specified in our Swedish head quarter. The well known ideas of Scandinavian design can be found through all of our products; a minimalistic but yet striking design – less is more.
- Compact, modular interior
- Minimalistic design with an elegant aluminum front panel
- Unique new modular mounting system that accommodates up to 6 hard drives
- Accommodates tower CPU coolers and single-fan water cooling systems
- Filtered air intakes ensure a dust-free environment for internal components
- Three Silent Series R2 hydraulic bearing fans included
- Excellent cooling for all components
- Accommodates ATX power supplies
- Fan controller for all fans included
- USB 3.0 for fast file transfers
- Mini ITX, DTX motherboard compatibility
- 2 expansion slots
- 6 – supports either 3.5" or 2.5" HDD / SSD
- ATX PSUs, up to 160mm in length (To fit in combination with a long graphics card,
PSUs with modular connectors on the back typically need to be shorter than 160 mm)
- Graphics cards, up to 310mm in length, when 2 HDD brackets
(1 HDD hanging bracket total) are removed (Graphics cards longer than 170 mm
will conflict with PSUs longer than 160mm)
- Tower CPU coolers, up to 165 mm tall
- Case dimensions (W x H x D): 250 x 210 x 374 mm
- Case volume: 19,5 Liters
- Net weight: 4,9 kg
- Colors available: Black and White
- Cooling and ventilation
- 2 – Front mounted 92mm Silent Series R2 hydraulic bearing fans, 1300 RPM
speed(compatible with 80mm fans) – included
- 1 – Rear mounted 140mm Silent Series R2 hydraulic bearing fan, 1000 RPM
speed (compatible with 120mm fans) – included
- Removable air filters for front fans and PSU
- Fan filter for graphics card
- 1 – fan controller for all 3 fans included
- Front Interface
- 2 – USB 3.0 (Internal 3.0 to 2.0 adapter included)
- 1 – 3.5mm audio in (microphone)
- 1 – 3.5mm audio out (headphone)
- Power button with LED
- HDD LED
Unboxing and Content
The NODE 304 box is comes with all the product specification, details, features and a Exploded view of the case. As we open the box we find the NODE 304 protected with foam and covered in a plastic bag.
Inside the box we find the NODE 304 along wit a user´s manual, all the mounting gear needed for installation and a Attention note with instructions on how to proceed with a faulty unit (if that happens).
A closer look (external view)
Well outside the box we can take a closer look at the NODE 304 Externals, The above images shows the front faceplate/bezel and the back witch also shows the included 140mm exhaust.
Note that the Power connector on the lower left of the back is not the PSU, It is a Power extension connector. And though it is hard to see in the image, there is a fan controller switch on the back for 5v,7v and 12 V this is the same switch used on the Define R4 and is a very simple but great feature.
These two images shows the sides of the NODE 304, The left holds a huge ventilation hole to allow a graphic card to take cool air from the outside Where the right has a smaller Ventilation hole to aid the overall cooling performance.
As we remove the front faceplate/bezel we find the two included R2 92mm intake fans, the left image shows the fans with the included removable dust filter.
In the above images we se the bottom of the NODE 304, the PSU intake hole has a dust filter witch you can se in the left image. In the right image I temporarily mounted the PSU show you the how well the fan is positioned over the intake of cool air
A closer look (internally)
Getting a good overview of the inside with the camera was tricky, This image shows the inner back of the NODE 304 with the included 140mm exhaust fan.
The hard drive brackets can hold two hard drives each and unused brackets can be removed for better airflow.
Removing the three included hard drive brackets reveals the PSU Area with the intake hole, and we can again se the two included 92mm fans.
Installation And finished build
Motherboard: Asrock A75M-ITX
CPU: AMD A6 3500 APU
RAM: 4GB Corsair Vengience 1.5v
Hard drive: Western digital Velociraptor 1TB
PSU: Fractal Design INTEGRA R2 500w
First I installed the INTEGRA 500W PSU, the case has a Power extension cable inside to allow the PSU to be mounted in the front of the case while the External power cable goes into the back of the NODE 304.
I was quiet concerned about the limited space in the NODE 304, but the installation went smooth apart from a situation where I had to remove two fins on the vengeance ram (that is not low profile) to be able to fit them beneath the 140mm exhaust fan.
Cable management in the NODE 304 is actually not bad, if you spend some time with it you can end up with a much better result then id did.
All in all there is nothing really to complain about, Fractal Design has manage well with the inside layout.
Note that there is no 5.25” slots in the NODE 304 so if you are building a HTPC that needs a 5.25” bay I recommend you to look at the Node 605.
This system is not going to be hot so I adjusted the fans to be set to 7v and I set the CPU fan to the lowest setting, I ran Prime95 for 30 min to get a good view of the over all temperatures in the system.
The system temps was where I expected them to be and there is nothing to complain about, On the noise side Fractal Design has managed as well, as the system is really quiet on the 7v setting and the CPU cooler does more noise then any of the fans in the NODE 304.
Setting the fans to 12v makes the fans noticeable but not loud, but on most systems not used for gaming with the fan configuration that the NODE 304 holds the airflow given when the fans are running at 7v is more then enough.
Fractal Design is my preferred brand for Studio and gaming PC´s, I have yet to se anything that is as flexible, well designed, cool and QUIET as the Define R4. The NODE 304 shows me that no matter the size, fractal design manage to deliver quality cases for everyone and every situation. I also like the simple but still Stylish looks of the Fractal Design PC case lineup.
A feature that I could not test myself is to have a graphic card installed but the feature is there if needed witch makes this case usable for many different types of PC´s
The Node 304 has a average pricing of about $79.99 witch is a reasonable price.
- easy installation
- good cooling
- Some higher RAM might not fit without modification
I would like to thank Fractal Design for letting me do this review.
And to me readers.. THANK YOU!!