Fractal Design’s Node enclosures ripe for the living room

Computex — We first met with Fractal Design at last year’s Computex trade show, so it was only fitting that we visited the company again this year. It’s a good thing we did, because Fractal has a new line of Node cases that look very slick.

The Node 304 is the more affordable of the two, with a suggested retail price of just $90. It’s designed to house Mini-ITX systems with double-wide graphics cards up to 12.2" long. Squeezing in a card that long will require removing one of the three hanging drive cages. Each cage can accommodate two 3.5" or 2.5" drives, so there’s plenty of storage capacity to go around. You’ll have to make do without an optical drive, though.

To make the Node 304 fit for high-end rigs, Fractal has left enough room for CPU coolers as tall as 6.5". Standard ATX PSUs will fit inside the chassis, too, although larger models may limit the clearance for graphics cards.

Two 92-mm fans sit behind the case’s aluminum front panel, and there’s a 140-mm spinner at the rear. The fans are Fractal’s new R2 models, which feature fluid bearings. Fractal’s existing cases will be upgraded to the new fans, as well.

Looking for something larger? The Node 605 is compatible with full-sized ATX motherboards and PSUs. This more traditional home-theater PC case is lined with sound-dampening foam and should look good in the living room… just as soon as Fractal tweaks the front panel. Based on the feedback it’s gotten during the show, the company has decided to move its logo to the lower right corner of the case’s face. It sounds like the graphic will be smaller and subtler, as well. We approve.

The Node 605 is limited to four hard drives or SSDs, and it can only take graphics cards as long as 11". Cooler clearance is limited to 5.3", but there are a few perks. Behind a hinged door at the front lurks a media card reader and a slim optical bay. Front-panel FireWire connectivity is offered in addition to the usual USB 3.0 and audio ports. Dual 120-mm fans are also included. Expect the Node 605 to cost $160 when it arrives alongside the 604 in August.

Comments closed
    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    That looks a little big. I wish you guys would’ve got shots from the back so we could get some reference. Port clusters are all standardized in size, as are PSU mounts, expansion slots. It’s like the size defining angle for cases.

      • Duck
      • 8 years ago

      [url=http://www.fractal-design.com/img_prod/Node605_back-of-case_lores.jpg<]It's one big ass case[/url<].

    • rrr
    • 8 years ago

    Fantastic to see that other form factors are getting some attention.

    • ALiLPinkMonster
    • 8 years ago

    Look out, Silverstone. There’s a new gaming worthy mini-itx case manufacturer in town.

    • Deanjo
    • 8 years ago

    Nice, but missing one thing that every HTPC case should have built in, an IR receiver.

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    The Node 605 looks pretty sweet, especially if they fix the logo.

      • Duck
      • 8 years ago

      It’s big and ugly. The Node 304 looks better as a HTPC. It reminds me of a home theatre subwoofer.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]This more traditional home-theater PC case.... should look good in the living room. Behind a hinged door at the front lurks a media card reader and a slim optical bay[/quote<] 'traditional home-theatre PCs' are most often used to play DVDs or Blu-Rays. How many DVD/Blu-Ray players 'hide' the disk drive behind a hinged door the user is forced to operate every time they want to use the device? This strikes me as a classic, um, 'case' of some clueless product designer being more interested in making his product 'look good in the living room' than making it easy to actually use.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 8 years ago

      Totally man, because opening the door once for a 2 hour movie is such a huge hassle and matters more than how the thing looks 24/7.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 8 years ago

        Not to mention noise created by optical drives gets damped.

        (I +1’d you btw)

        • ratborg
        • 8 years ago

        Agreed. I have a Blu-Ray drive in my HTPC. I rarely play moves from disc but when I do it’s nice to have the ability to do so.

        • Neutronbeam
        • 8 years ago

        Huh…Duuuuude–don’t you open it twice, ’cause, like, you’re taking the the disk out when the two-hour movie is finished Bro? ;->

          • MadManOriginal
          • 8 years ago

          Oh no, you are completely correct! OPENING IT TWICE PER MOVIE COMPLETELY CHANGES THE EQUATION!!

            • superjawes
            • 8 years ago

            But wait, what if sometimes you only take a movie out when you’re putting a new one in?

            • dpaus
            • 8 years ago

            Or what about those ‘4-movies-in-one’ discs that you find in the discount bin? That changes everything!!

            (assuming you could actually sit through 4 of ‘those kind’ of movies, that is…)

        • dpaus
        • 8 years ago

        It’s a shame that you nekulturny heathens can’t appreciate the staggaring beauty of my opinions, but I’ll sleep well tonight, knowing that if I’m wrong, then every stereo receiver and disc player on the shelves at Best Buy would have a big, plain door on the front that totally covered every control on it.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 8 years ago

          I am sad, you made it way too easy. It took me about two minutes to find this player: [url<]http://www.bestbuy.com/site/LG+-+3D+Wi-Fi+Built-In+Blu-ray+Player+-+Hairline+Dark+Blue/2480348.p?id=1218329516805&skuId=2480348[/url<] Check out the fourth picture.

            • dpaus
            • 8 years ago

            I also slept well knowing you’d be hunting on-line to find one – one! – example

          • MadManOriginal
          • 8 years ago

          One other thing…is ‘nekulturny’ the word of the day on sme calendar? Because your post is the first time I’ve seen that word used, but I saw it a second time on another website today too. Such an odd word used twice in different places makes me think it isn’t a coincidence. Either that or you go by ‘zozzlhandler’ on Dailytech and just hadn’t gotten your fill of nekulturny name-calling.

            • dpaus
            • 8 years ago

            Just us kultuny’s doing our bit to improve the lot of the masses -)

          • Theolendras
          • 8 years ago

          Maybe you don’t like the hinge, just don’t make it a deal breaker for the mass.

      • BiffStroganoffsky
      • 8 years ago

      You use a DVD/BD player to watch optical media. They are plenty cheap now. Use the HTPC to watch the files you ripped and stored on your NAS or other storage devices. Don’t pay $160 for a case to build something to watch media that will work better in a ~$100 dedicated player.

        • ratborg
        • 8 years ago

        Having a optical drive in my HTPC means I have one less device to plug in and route cables. It’s not the primary use for my HTPC but it’s nice to have there.

      • Corrado
      • 8 years ago

      My home theater PC is used to serve files to my xbox360’s, AppleTV and tune/record live TV via WMC and use the 360’s as extenders. I really don’t have a use for the drive in it…

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 8 years ago

      Most disk-players do have a hinged door in front of the drive. However, the tray can push it open when you eject it.

      If it’s possible to do the same here, it’s not even a problem.

      • spuppy
      • 8 years ago

      “traditional home theatre PCs” also have S-Video out and analog audio ports. I can’t remember the last time I used a disc to play media, although I admit my memory isn’t so great. It stops at about 2005 or so, so it would have been before then.

        • Deanjo
        • 8 years ago

        dpaus still has an 8-track in his audio rack.

          • dpaus
          • 8 years ago

          Two! Both K-Tel ‘Audiophile’ series Pro models.

    • flip-mode
    • 8 years ago

    Fractal just keeps on impressing me. Keep it up, folks.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      I would really like a new enclosure, and my wife offered to get one for Father’s Day for me. The Fractal Design Define R3 is really high on my list.

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        If you’re mATX give the TJ08-e a hard look – but throw in a $5 fan controller.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 8 years ago

          I’m full ATX, unfortunately.

            • Duck
            • 8 years ago

            Full ATX towers are [i<]so[/i<] 2001.

      • Washer
      • 8 years ago

      I’m a little less thrilled about my Define Mini. It’s a solid case but there’s some questionable design decisions. The biggest being the worthless fan filter design. You must blow from the inside out and prop something like a vacuum nozzle in front of your case or go through the process of taking off the front (annoying as the lights, USB, headphones stay attached to it), unscrewing the filter case and pop out the fans. The cable hole grommets are also very cheap and pop off very easily when routing cables through. There’s also just not much space for cables behind the mother tray as well. Not to mention the USB3 front panel cable is of the thick variety that makes it a pain to route. The routing holes are not exactly in the best places, doesn’t seem like a lot of thought went in to their placement. It’s also a ATX mid tower pretending to be a microATX case.

      It is well constructed though and good airflow options for a case designed for silence. I’m just not sure I’d buy it again if I were to have a do over. I’d probably go with the TJ08-E and put my own foam inside to take care of it’s noise issue. I find it easier to remedy a sound problem than fix issues like the ones above.

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