Fractal Design Node 804 Cube Case

Jul 28 2014

It was nearly a full year ago that we reviewed the Fractal Design Node 304 small form factor cube case, and boy did we like it—it offered a wealth of options packed inside a tiny chassis. The size of it was one of the few gripes, where due to the overall size of the cube it made managing items within it difficult. With the introduction of the Fractal Node 804, they are presenting a significantly larger cube case to answer some the challenges of the small ITX case, as well as broaden the target market for the chassis. While the 304 came in black or white, the 804 only comes in black—which should satisfy the majority of users. At $109, the Fractal Node 804 is $20 more than its predecessor, but seems to bring a lot more to the table.

 Fractal Node 804

SPECIFICATIONS

The most noticeable difference when we received the Fractal Design Node 804 was just the sheer girth of the chassis—it felt and is noticeably larger than the 304. See this simple chart to show the comparison in outer dimensions between the two:

 

W

H

D

Node 304

250mm

210mm

374mm

Node 804

344mm

307mm

390mm

It definitely feels larger as the evidence shows, but with this comes a much more spacious chassis. As you would expect, the additional space is used wisely to accommodate more of pretty much everything—more fans, more hard drives, more video cards, etc., as well as Micro ATX motherboards (in addition to the Mini ITX previously supported)

Let’s take a look at the full specifications before continuing:

  • Micro ATX and Mini ITX motherboard compatibility
  • 8 - 3.5″       HDD positions
  • 2 - 2.5″       dedicated SSD unit positions
  • 2 - Extra positions for either 3,5″ or 2,5″ drives
  • 5 expansion slots
  • 10 - Fan positions (3 x 120mm  Silent Series R2 fans included)
  • Filtered fan slots in front, top and bottom
  • CPU coolers up to 160 mm in height
  • PSU compatibility: ATX PSUs up to 260 mm deep
  • Graphics card compatibility: Graphics cards up to 320mm in length. Graphics cards up to 290 mm in length may be installed if a fan is installed in the lower position in the front.
  • Velcro strap for easy cable management
  • Clear Window side panel included
  • Colors available: Black
  • Case dimensions (WxHxD): 344 x 307 x 389 mm
  • Net weight: 6 kg
  • Package dimensions (WxHxD): 370 x 468 x 412 mm
  • Package weight: 7.7kg
  • Cooling system
    • Front: 4 – 120mm fans (included is one hydraulic bearing 120mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed)
    • Rear: 1 - 120/140mm fan (included is a hydraulic bearing 120mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed)
    • Rear: 1 - 120mm fan slots (included is 1 hydraulic bearing 120mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed)
    • Top: 4 - 120x140mm fans (not included)
    • Fan controller: 1 - Integrated fan controller for up to 3 fans (included)
  • Water cooling compatibility
  • Front (right chamber) - 240 mm radiator configurations up to 60 mm thick (with fans) and 278 mm tall are allowed.
  • Front (left chamber) - 240 mm radiator configurations up to 60 mm thick (with fans) and 278 mm tall are allowed. Using a radiator in this position prevents the use of a fan in the top position just next to it.
  • Top (right chamber) - 240/280 mm radiators up to 130mm thick (with fans) may be fitted if the HDD drive bays are taken out or placed elsewhere. No limitation to thickness.
  • Top (left chamber) - 240 mm radiator configurations up to 130 mm thick (with fans) will fit. Radiators in this position limits the height of memory modules to 48 mm tall.
  • Maximum radiator configuration: 1x240mm,1x280mm and 2x120mm radiators simultaneously.

Front interface

  • 2 - USB 3.0
  • Audio in/out
  • Power button with LED (blue)
  • HDD activity LED (white)

Package contents

  • Node 804 computer case
  • Accessory box
  • User manual

 

EXPERIENCE

Having reviewed a number of Fractal Design chassis, we have become accustomed (spoiled?) to the phenomenal condition in which the cases arrive—secure and unscathed (despite the best efforts) by your local delivery company. The unit comes with all the essentials you would expect from a chassis—as well as two rear 120mm fans, a single front fan, and screws for a complete installation. The interior of the lid has a fin design that appears to be aimed at pushing noise towards the back of the case, a subtle but nice touch. All of the open air spaces where fans can be placed include fan filters that are easily removable for cleaning, a huge help in ensuring the inside of the case stays clean and dust free as much as possible.

Immediately noticeable is the window on the left side of the chassis, which allows you to show off your equipment internals. In our situation, this is actually a con as any internal lights on your motherboard will end up showing through the window, but nothing a piece of cardboard couldn’t resolve if it was truly bothering you. The front panel is composed primarily of the same gorgeous brushed aluminum as in the previous Fractal Design case, with the bottom portion consisting of a mesh material to help aid airflow. This panel is easily pulled back to show the front fan filters—which are removable without being required to get the front faceplate off—as well as side buttons on the faceplate for audio and power controls. Also, the faceplate is capable of supporting a slimline optical disk drive. The drive is mounted vertically and hidden away from sight. Note that installing the optical drive does somewhat appear as it would inhibit airflow into the case.

Behind the front plate is support for two internal 120mm fans (one is included), and it’s by default on the left side of the chassis. Why does that matter? Well the Node 804 is cleverly designed in two chambers—the left chamber houses the motherboard, CPU, video card(Drunk, CableCARD tuner or any other internal peripheral you need to connect. The right chamber--divided by a metal plate with well placed holes for cable management—is where support for the TEN (10) hard drives are located, as well as the power supply. By separating the chassis, it allows the heat generated by the power supply and hard drives to be completely removed from the heat generated on the opposite side with the processor and video cards. This is normally a balancing act where you need to manage your airflow to ensure circulation throughout all components; this is something done well with the Node 804 through their added space.

Speaking of the hard drives, they are supported vertically, in two bays which house up to four 3.5” hard drives. The bottom of the chassis allows installation of two additional 2.5” SSD (or HDD) drives. The upper bays do not support the SSD’s. The vertical integration of the drives in the upper bays as shown in the photo shows that you cannot remove the drives without removing the entire bays. This wouldn’t be frustrating except for where tight cable management is being used where then you need to re-organize the cables for all the drives, instead of just the one you removed. It appears the installation is managed this wayto ensure maximum airflow throughout all the drives, but we can’t help but wonder if there could have been support for them in a manner that made it easier to access without removing all.

Fractal Node 804 Hard Drives

Moving to the opposite chamber we come across one of the easiest motherboard installations we have come across—mind you, most HTPC-focused cases are REALLY small! That being said, we had no problems installing our Mini ITX motherboard in the unit, and as you might expect there was more than enough space inside to manage the internals even after installation.

The fans inside the chassis are connected via a SATA power connector (a blessing if your motherboard only has limited fan support), and on the rear of the chassis there is a dip switch to toggle the fan mode into Low, Medium or High setting.

TEST SYSTEM

Motherboard

Intel DH77DF Mini-ITX

CPU

Intel Core i3-3220 (3.30GHz)

RAM

2 x Kingston Hyper-X DDR3 1333Mhz 2GB (4GB Total)

PSU

Silverstone SST-ST40F-ES

HARD DRIVES

1 x Intel G2 80GB SSD

1 x Seagate 1.5TB Barracuda

2 x Seagate 3.0TB Barracuda 7200.14

Once up and running, the unit was whisper quiet (fans set to Low) without any additional fans installed in the unit. From approximately five feet away the unit was barely audible, so it easily passed that barrier even though the Node does not include the sound dampened walls as the Define series does.

To analyze the different speeds, we ran the system to see how the different fan settings had an impact on the temperatures inside:

 

Low Setting

Medium

High

CPU Temp

50 C

47

46

PCH

59

58

56

Memory

36

35

34

VR

43

41

39

HD

41

40

40

HD

42

40

39

HD

39

38

34

The high speed was unnecessary in our test environment and usage, but we found still a slight benefit in temperature with a pretty open case.

CONCLUSION

With a number of hard drives in it, the Fractal Node 304 was basically at maximum capacity while not having much room for expansion. For only $20 more, the Fractal Node 804 brings a lot more size and space to the table. Offering a wealth of space offerings, fans and slots for expansion, as well as a clever chamber heat management design, the Node 804 should easily suffice your needs today or in the future.

Pros:

  • Supports TEN hard drives
  • Separated chambers for mobo/hard drives/PSU for heat optimization
  • Affordable MSRP ($109)
  • Full ATX PSU Support
  • Gorgeous black brushed aluminum, which doesn’t pick up annoying fingerprints
  • Supports water cooling and large video cards

Cons:

  • Hard drive installation method forces removal of entire cage for maintenance

 

Thanks to Fractal Design for providing the Node 804 for review.

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