Fractal Design Node 804 Review

September 17, 2014 | 09:21

Tags: #best-micro-atx-case #best-micro-atx-chassis #brushed-aluminium #dual-chamber #m-atx #micro-atx #micro-atx-case

Companies: #fractal-design

Interior

Removing half a dozen thumbscrews lets you slide off the side panels and roof, all of which use a notches and rails system. The front panel also pulls off with relative ease, though beware that it will bring the front panel cables with it. This could make it quite fiddly to install or remove the front fans, though you're unlikely to need to do this too many times.

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The main chamber is fairly self-explanatory, but the metalwork inside is good, as is the paint job. The motherboard tray doesn't feature pre-installed motherboard mounts, but it does have a super-sized CPU cooler cutout, and the PCI brackets feature thumbscrews for ease of use too. There's also plenty of clearance for components – 160mm for CPU coolers, which is a whole 40mm more than Corsair's case, and 320mm for graphics cards. This is reduced to 290mm if you install a fan in the lower front mount, but this is still plenty, and the same as Corsair's.

Instead of giving users the option to install fans along the bottom of this chamber, as Corsair does, Fractal reserves it for storage. The floor of the chassis here can hold two drives, and both 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch models are supported, as shown. The smaller drives are screwed directly into place, while larger drives are installed with washers to dampen vibrations.

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Flipping the case round reveals the secondary chamber, where your PSU and the majority of your hard drives and cables will be stashed. The PSU rests on rubber feet so any vibrations generated by its fan(s) are quelled. That said, there's no padding where the PSU meets the case wall. Just in front of the PSU is a handy pair of large Velcro straps, which you can use to tie down your bulky power cables.

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Fractal's main storage solution is a pair of four-bay, modular drive cages, installed by default in the roof. These cages only support 3.5-inch drives, and no 2.5-inch adaptor brackets are supplied, so you'll need one of your own if you want to install an SSD here, but remember the Node 804 has other options for installing such drives. Drives screw directly into the bays and hang vertically, and washers are provided in each bay to absorb mechanical rattles. Drives are also aligned such that air can pass easily between them from back to front.

A pair of thumbscrews holds each cage in place. Release them, and the whole cage slides straight out along rails, which is useful since most people are unlikely to need all the bays on offer. The rails can also be removed using screws which are accessed from the top of the chassis, and doing this frees up the roof fan mounts in this chamber for use. Furthermore, you can also turn one of the cages upside down and mount it to the floor of the chassis using the holes through which the Velcro cables are fed – it's a very flexible arrangement.

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Just in case the storage options so far aren't enough, Fractal offers a final pair of 2.5-inch mounts within the front panel itself, using a plastic bracket. Holes in the front of the chassis ensure there is adequate room for you to pass through the requisite power and data cables too.

*Fractal Design Node 804 Review Fractal Design Node 804 Review - Interior
Click to enlarge - Two SSDs can be installed in a bracket behind the front panel

Cable routing on the motherboard tray is likewise sufficient, with one main hole on the side and a smaller one along the bottom. There's also a small one in the top corner for the EPS12V and fan cables, but it's we had to remove the roof panel and rear drive cage to get enough enough access to it, so it's not ideally sized. Finally, the oversized CPU cutout doubles as a small routing hole for cables to mini-ITX motherboards, which is a near touch. There are no grommets on the holes, which is irritating given that there's a case window, but the internal cables are at least all sleeved in black for minimal distraction.

240mm radiators can be installed in the front of both chambers, provided they are no more than 278mm tall. There's a depth limitation for both of 60mm including fans, enough for a slimline radiator with one set of fans. Technically, thicker set-ups will fit in both instances, but you'd be impeding on the clearance space of your PSU and GPU. Radiators here will also prevent you from using the roof fan mounts just next to it.

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Alternatively, double radiators can also be installed in the roofs of both chambers. In the left, a 240mm radiator set-up can be used, and thanks to the offset mounting holes it can be very thick – up to 130mm with fans, easily enough for a full thickness radiator with two pairs of fans. This does assume that you're using a waterblock on your CPU, as almost any cooler will get in the way, and memory modules are also limited to 48mm tall in this instance. Meanwhile, in the right chamber, 240mm and 280mm radiators can be used provided the HDD cages and their rails are removed (remember you can reposition one of them). With this done, there's no limitation to thickness. All in all there's plenty to keep water-coolers happy for a case of this size.
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