Fractal Design Node 304 Mini-ITX Case

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System Configuration:

Measurement and Analysis Tools

System temperatures were recorded with RealTemp, SpeedFan, and GPU-Z at idle and on load using Prime95 (small FFT setting) and FurMark, an OpenGL benchmarking and stability testing utility. Power consumption and noise levels were also measured.

Test Drive Noise Summary
1-10 (10 = no vibration)
Idle Airborne Acoustics @1m
Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB
17 dBA
Samsung F3 EcoGreen 2TB
15~16 dBA
WD Caviar SE16 320GB
18~19 dBA
WD Red 3TB
13~14 dBA

Usually we test cases with a single hard drive but for models designed or marketed for use as a server we also test with three additional drives. The acoustic properties of the drives used are detailed above. Incidentally, the Seagate, Samsung, and WD SE16 drives are the models used for our single drive configuration mini-ITX, microATX, and ATX case systems respectively.

Baseline Noise

The Node 304 ships with a trio of fans, 2 x 92 mm and 1 x 140 mm, belonging to their Silent Series R2 line. The case also includes a built-in 3-speed fan controller that's capable of controlling all the included fans.

Stock Fan Noise Level
(HD 3000 IGP Test System turned on, CPU fan disabled)
Fan Speed Setting
SPL @1m
17 dBA
19~20 dBA
27 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front of case.

Baseline noise was tested with our test system on but the CPU fan disconnected, so the only noise generators aside from the system fans was a power supply fan and single hard drive. Generally we consider an overall noise level of 20 [email protected] and below to be quiet and the stock fans certainly met this standard with ease. Our instruments measured 17 [email protected] and 19~20 [email protected] on low and medium speed, respectively. The high setting was much louder and probably unnecessary for a server type configuration. Hard drives don't require much in the way of airflow.

Both the 92 mm and 140 mm fan had a similar acoustic quality. They droned at high speed and clicked when slowed down. With the cover was secured on, these deficiencies were only audible at close proximity and other noise producing components mask these negative qualities further. At distances of one foot or further, it sounded completely benign.

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