Fractal Design Node 304 Mini-ITX Case

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Fractal Design Node 304 Mini-ITX Case

December 10, 2013 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Fractal Design Node 304
Mini-ITX Case
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$90

Though the mini-ITX form factor has been around for over a decade and become significantly more popular over the past few years, there is no defined case specification like ATX for manufacturers to work from. While 8 out of 10 ATX towers have near identical layouts, with mini-ITX, all bets are off. There is no convention for how big a mini-ITX case should be — some are so compact they can be mounted behind a monitor, some are long and slim mimicking home theater equipment, while others are big enough to be mistaken for microATX models. The overall dimensions, features, layout, and component support ultimately comes down to how the system is going to be used. One thing we've noticed is that the strict physical limitations create more potential points of failure as the versatility increases. The more things you try to add, the more likely design elements will interfere with one another.

At first glance, the Fractal Design Node 304 doesn't have the demeanor of an overly ambitious case. It's a fairly plain looking, compact box that shares a minimalist aesthetic and glossy finish with other Fractal models, particularly the Fractal Design Array Mini ITX NAS Case we reviewed in 2010. Our sample is the white version (it also comes in black) which in our opinion has a more attractive appearance and is more resilient to smudges and fingerprints. The body is made of steel while the rounded front bezel is composed of plastic with a thin aluminum face. Interestingly, the Node 304's footprint is identical to that of the recently reviewed BitFenix Phenom Mini-ITX, but at 21 cm tall, the Fractal case is shorter by a significant 12 cm.


The Node 304 box.


The Node 304 (white).

 

Despite the size disparity, the Node 304 and the Phenom Mini-ITX cases share many similarities. They're both designed with small servers in mind, accommodating up to six 3.5 inch hard drives, but they also attempt to offer more than simply high capacity storage. There's room for an ATX power supply, a good-sized tower CPU cooler, and a long graphics card. However, the Node 304 uses an interior design that veers farther from standard tower style cases than the Phenom to pack all these features into a smaller form. Instead of 2 x 120 mm fans (with the option for one more), the Fractal case is equipped with a pair of 92 mm and a lone 140 mm fan, and a fan controller is included. The Node 304 promises better airflow than the Phenom with air vents on both sides as well as on the top and bottom of the front panel.


Accessories.

The accessories that ship with the Node 304 are scant. A very brief manual is included that doesn't actually have any assembly instructions, just a single diagram of how all the pieces go together in multiple languages. The case also comes with the necessary screws and standoffs, and a few plastic zip-ties for bundling up cables.

Specifications: Fractal Design Node 304
(from the product web page)
Motherboard Mini ITX, DTX
Drive bays 6 – supports either 3.5" or 2.5" HDD / SSD
Power Supply ATX PSUs, up to 160mm in length (To fit in combination with a long graphics card, PSUs with modular connectors on the back typically need to be shorter than 160 mm)
Expansion 2 slots
Graphics Card Up to 310mm in length, when 2 HDD slots (1 HDD hanging bracket total) are removed (Graphics cards longer than 170 mm will conflict with PSUs longer than 160mm)
CPU Cooler Tower coolers, up to 165 mm tall
Dimensions 250 x 210 x 374 mm (W x H x D), 19.6 liters
Case volume 19.5 Liters
Net weight 4.9 kg
Colors available Black and White
Cooling System Front: 2 x 92mm Silent Series R2 hydraulic bearing fans, 1300 RPM speed (compatible with 80mm fans) – included

Rear: 1 x 140mm Silent Series R2 hydraulic bearing fan, 1000 RPM speed (compatible with 120mm fans) – included

Air filters: Removable filters for front fans, PSU, graphics card

Fan control: Fan controller for all 3 fans included
Front interface 2 - USB 3.0 (Internal 3.0 to 2.0 adapter included)
1 - 3.5mm audio in (microphone)
1 - 3.5mm audio out (headphone)
Power button with LED
HDD LED
Package contents Node 304 computer case
User manual
Accessory box


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