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Old October 7, 2012, 05:24 PM
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Default Opinions on Fractal Design Node 304

I was wondering what people thought of the Node 304. There seems to be exceptionally few reviews/opinions of this case.

I spent a little bit of time looking at it and thinking up some case layouts. My emphasis on builds recently has been easy dust maintenance. This takes the form of positive air-flow cases and externally-accessible filtered intakes. Of course, I still care greatly about user comfort. In terms of both quietness and not directing forced hot air at the user.

Let me get on with my mITX-gaming system layout:

The rear 140mm will be populated by Noctua NF-P14 fan at full voltage with an external magnetic fan filter. Next up will be the Noctua NH-D14 cooler. The rear-most fan-mount will be unoccupied unless for some reason a NF-P12 fan there would be preferable over the rear NF-P14. The center mount will hold the standard NF-P14 at full voltage. There is simply no room for a front-mounted fan. From there, the two hard drives bays closest to the GPU would be removed. Next is a single NF-A9 with the fan filter removed, if possible, exhausting air into the front panel itself and 'gently'* exiting the case through the top ventilation holes.

Evaluation

Maintenance

The rear intake is protected with the magnetic 140mm fan filter, the PSU will another identical filter(if there is no external filter already), and the GPU will have use the GPU grill itself.

Also, I believe Fractal's grills are REAL fan filters and actually work, yes? As in, they block a significant percentage of dust from getting into the case and the dust accumulates on the outside where I can just wipe them two or three times with a microfiber cloth.

User Comfort

"exhausting air into the front panel itself and 'gently'* exiting the case through the top ventilation holes."

*so the user doesn't feel a fan blowing hot air at him if the case is put in a bad spot.

I think with a total of 3 fans, excluding the two GPU fans and the powersupply fans, everything should be pretty freakin' quiet.

EDIT: I was considering buying a super-overspecced PSU, think AX1200, with passive cooling enabled when running under certain wattages for even more quietness. Has anyone ever done this? NOTE: money isn't that much of a concern.

Performance

I realize that this setup definitely won't provide me with the most optimal temperatures. This is not a concern as long as temps stay under 85 celsius running prime overnight. My only options for changing the airflow would be to add another NF-A14 or undervolt the single one.

I think this air-flow scheme is pretty decent considering the case. My only concern would be how an open-air cooler, specifically the MSI Twin-Frozr III/IV versions, would affect airflow. It should be fine in the case's default configuration, but if I were to replace the GPU grill with an acrylic panel with no ventilation holes, then the GPU could start getting toasty.



tl:dr

140mm intake on case rear fan mount -> unoccupied rear-slot of NH-D14 -> 140mm fan on NH-D14 -> under-volted 92mm outtake fan

thoughts?

EDIT2:

I currently use another shoebox mITX gaming case: the SG07. My principle complaints with it include:

1. the fan filter isn't accessible
2. the stock fan is too loud (and the fact that there is really only one air vent in the case)
3. the power supply and cable management options are poor
4.. there isn't room for a tower-cooler

Last edited by Generic User #2; October 7, 2012 at 09:18 PM.
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Old October 7, 2012, 07:07 PM
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That case just came in stock at NCIX so it's probably why you haven't found any reviews or such.

The AX1200 is far too overkill. The AX series in general runs passively until it reaches a certain temperature. I'm assuming you'll be more than fine with the AX750 or AX850. They're smaller too so it'll fit in the case easier.

I have the "original" Fractal Design case and the fan filters it came with do indeed work. Obviously it doesn't block all the dust but I don't have any huge dust build up inside the case.
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Old October 7, 2012, 07:45 PM
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haha yes, I was kinda thinking that with tongue-in-cheek. I've never really noticed PSU noise before, the GPU always seems to drown it out.

Any other thoughts on the airflow scheme?
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Old October 7, 2012, 08:32 PM
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damn it why can't a case like this make it ways around to be matx

stupid mitx
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Old October 7, 2012, 10:18 PM
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haha, the closest you're going to get is the sg09. although I personally thinks it looks wayy too ugly.

on another note, fractal and bitfenix have REALLY impressed me as I've taken the time to look up their product lines. specifically bitfenix's merc, raider, and prodigy; likewise, fractal's define series and this case are exceptionally awesome (at least from the reviews I've seen).
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Old October 8, 2012, 11:42 AM
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This thing will become the next go to case for file servers.
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Old October 8, 2012, 01:17 PM
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I'm would argue that the the fractal define array 2 makes for a slightly better file server (6 HDDs + boot drive vs 5 HDDs + boot drive), but the node 304 seems to have directly replaced it (the former is now discontinued).

overall, the node 304 is a much more versatile case than the sg07/08 AND the array 2
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