This is less of a review or build log but moreover a showcasing of the Fractal Design Node 304 case and the hardware I was able to stuff in it.
The hardware, for the most part, is the same hardware I’ve thrown into a series of cases in my quest for… who knows ha-ha.
Case: Fractal Design Node 304
PSU: Corsair AX-750 750 Watt Full Modular
CPU: Intel Core i7 2700k
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master TPC-812
Memory: Corsair Ballistix 1600MHz 2 x 8GB
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini ITX
Graphics Card: MSI HD 7950 Twin Frozr III 3GB
HDD 1: Crucial M4 128GB SSD
HDD 2: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM
Fractal Design is still considered a newcomer to the PC enthusiast market by most in the industry but they have really gotten quite a following in the recent years due to their simplistic designs and willingness to integrate customer requests/needs into future products.
I, for one, really enjoy the elegance of their designs as they really have taken the PC away from “that big mammoth beige box” and turned it into more of a modern day appliance that can proudly be shown off like a sports car.
One challenge that I fought through with this pc enclosure, albeit simply, was the limitation of the PSU depth. The Node 304 can take a PSU pretty much as long as you want to stuff in there but with setbacks – mainly in the GPU area. Any semi/full modular PSU with a depth over 145mm will limit you to a GPU card around 9.5 inches.
Most modern modular PSUs are going to be 160mm in depth/length – it’s almost like it’s a requirement or something as it’s extremely hard to find a quality PSU that’s modular (even partially) and be under the 160mm depth.
My Corsair AX-750 PSU was, of course, 160mm in length and was going to cause issues – or so I thought.
I was only able to do this because I only needed to install two disks total in my system with no other accessories; had this not been the case then sadly I wouldn’t have been able to do this.
The GTX 670 is overkill for my gaming needs on a 1080P monitor, especially with it’s 4GB VRAM, thus I decided to get a different GPU for my desktop and use the GTX 670 4GB in my home theater PC hooked up to my projector (which I still need to write a post about – SORRY!).
With the above in mind I decided to try out a MSI HD 7850 2GB model as it was shorter and still had a decent kick for graphics power.
Back on point, after using the 7850 I decided to return it for the MSI HD 7850 Twin Frozr model that my local MicroCenter had finally got back in stock.
Once I got to the store they were out of that particular 7850 (again!) and so I picked up an open box MSI HD 7950 Twin Frozr III 3GB card.
This card is 10.3 inches long and wouldn’t fit in my case due to the power supply I refuse to get rid of. Luck would have it though that the PSU bracket on this case easily comes off with four screws and you can slide the PSU away from the PCIe slot another half of and inch.
I’m still not sure why Fractal Design had this case made with that PSU bracket so far into the case when having it closer to the shell would prevent so much PSU exhaust going into the case and give people more room for longer PSU and GPU combos.
So as seen in the photo above the GPU clears the modular connectors on the PSU just fine with ample room. Also, due to the PSU cables and the HDDs installed above the PSU everything is snug and unable to move around too much so traveling with the case this way wouldn’t be an issue – although anyone traveling with their PCs would be wise to first remove the HDD from the PC and keep it in their carryon.
Another benefit of this case is it’s ability to house very large CPU tower style heat sink/fan combination coolers. For my build I’ve chosen to use Cooler Masters TPC-812 CPU cooler and it’s a tall cooler, measuring in at 163mm for height.
The fan configuration I wanted to use in this build was almost impossible due to the disk bracket design of the Node 304, (which I actually love!), but I was able to use the 90 degree SATA cables and luckily my SATA power cable used the low profile connectors so everything just cleared barely as you can probably barely make out in the picture above.
To get a better idea of clearance on this build and the fitment of the PSU after the PSU bracket removal I’m going to just post a set of pictures below, enjoy!
That’s all for this update, I hope to publish another post soon regarding my recent Toshiba Libretto 110CT purchase from eBay.