Fractal Design Node 304 Mini-ITX Case

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Assembly of the Node 304 is fairly straightforward thanks to the modular design but spacing is incredibly tight, and there is little room reserved for cables. A modular power supply is highly recommended.

The hard drive brackets are 1.2 mm thick and support two drives a piece. 3.5 inch drives are secured with four screws dampened by rubber grommets.

One compatibility issue we ran into was the cables coming off the back of the drives interfering with the fan of our Noctua NH-U12P heatsink — we had to move it to the other side in the "pull" position next to the exhaust fan

Most of the cables end up on the left side of the case, making it difficult to install a long graphics card. Adding a full sized GPU also means one of the hard drive brackets must be removed.

Perpendicular SATA cables would help but the drives are not mounted in the same orientation. If you want the cables to face the same direction, you'll need both right-angle and left-angle connectors.

Given the proximity of the CPU cooler and the rear exhaust fan, we briefly flirted the idea of ditching the CPU fan completely. This is a valid option if the system is utilizing a low power processor or never put under heavy stress. In a brief test of our 95W Core i5-2500K under full load, running the heatsink passively resulted in the chip heating up 25°C more compared to using our reference Nexus 120 mm fan after just a few minutes.

There was an additional ~25 mm of space available above our Noctua NH-U12P cooler, making the total CPU heatsink clearance approximately 183 mm, 18 mm more than Fractal Design's specified limit. The width of the heatsink is more of an issue than the height.

The long hard drive activity LED is diffused somewhat, making for a pleasant blue glow. The white power LED underneath the bezel shines brightly downward like a spotlight and is blinding when viewed directly. We recommend leaving it disconnected.

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