Fractal Design Node 804 ReviewManufacturer: Fractal Design
UK price (as reviewed): £77.60
Us price (as reviewed): $89.99
Fractal Design's Node series of cases is hard to pin down; there isn't much of a unifying theme beyond alternative form factors, but even then the home theatre Node 605 supports ATX motherboards. The Node 304
, meanwhile, is for mini-ITX users, leaving the Node 804 to cater to the micro-ATX crowd. The Node 804 is also a dual-chamber chassis, so the obvious comparison point is Corsair's Carbide Air 240
. The main idea behind such a design is to separate the hotter core components from the ones that need less direct cooling, granting the main ones airflow which is less restricted than in a typical tower chassis.
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Fractal's effort is around £10 more expensive than the £70 Air 240, but is also noticeably bigger, and as you'll see this extra space rarely goes to waste. The design is elegant and sleek, with a minimalist brushed aluminium front panel broken only by a small logo and LED in the corner and the mesh section below it. The right side is bare, but the left side has a large, clear window that is flush with the panel and ensures a fantastic view of the main chamber. The Node 804 also has five expansion slots at the rear, so large dual-GPU set-ups are catered for.
The core chassis and the side panels are sturdy and everything is fixed firmly in place. Build quality is rarely an issue with Fractal, and the Node 804 is no exception to this rule. That said, if we're being picky (and we are), we do have a couple of minor gripes. The first is with the large mesh section on the roof, as it has a bit more flex to it than we'd like, though this is mainly as a result of its sheer size. The second is with the case feet – we love that they're made of rubber, as it keeps the case firmly planted, but they're also very small, meaning that clearance for the lower intake areas is likewise very low. As such, we recommend using the Node 804 on a solid surface – carpet is likely to clog things up a little.
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The I/O area is found along the right of the front panel, where there is also a shielded opening for slot-loaded slimline optical drives. By comparison, the smaller Air 240 has no support for optical drives. However, this area is a little inconvenient to access, especially if you've placed the chassis on your right so you can see inside the window. It's also very basic, with just the standard selection of USB and audio jacks and a single power button – there's no reset button in sight.
The positioning of the fan control switch may also irk you, as it's located on the rear panel. It's not overly difficult to reach, and we understand the need to keep the design minimal, but we don't think a simple slider for the fan controller (and a reset button) would have done much to damage that. The controller itself can power up to three fans; it's a shame it's not more capable but it at least means you can wire up all of the default fans to it.
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Three 120mm Silent Series R2 fans are included by default – one front intake and rear exhaust for the main chamber on the left, and a rear exhaust for the right chamber to cool hard drives. However, users can install up to ten such fans, as each chamber has five possible mounts: two in the front, two in the roof and the rear exhaust. The four roof mounts can also take 140mm models, as can the rear exhaust for the right chamber. This is a more balanced approached to Corsair's case, which features a whopping eight fan mounts for the left chamber alone, but just one for that on the right.
Impressively, the Node 804 is fully guarded against intrusion from dust, thanks to its small army of filters. The fixed mesh on the roof is backed by filtering material, and there are four more individually removable filters; two on the bottom, two at the front. The smaller one on the bottom guards the PSU, while the larger one is for the longer ventilated area. You can't install fans there, but the GPU and other components will naturally draw air in there, so a filter is crucial to stop the Node 804 from turning into a hoover. However, removing and cleaning any of these filters requires you to turn the case on its side – there's not enough clearance to reach under and grab the bottom ones, while the front ones slide out from beneath the front panel.
- Dimensions (mm) 344 x 389 x 307 (W x D x H)
- Material Aluminium, Steel
- Available colours Black
- Front panel Power, 2 x USB 3, stereo, microphone
- Drive bays 1 x external slimline optical, 8 x internal 3.5in, 2 x internal 3.5in/2.5in, 2 x internal 2.5in
- Form factor(s) Micro-ATX, mini-ITX
- Cooling 4 x 120mm front fan mounts (1 x 120mm fan included), 1 x 140mm/120mm and 1 x 120mm rear fan mounts (2 x 120mm fan included), 4 x 140mm/120mm roof fan mounts (fans not included)
- CPU cooler clearance 160mm
- Maximum graphics card length 320mm (290mm with front fan installed)
- Extras Three speed fan control, removable dust filters