Fractal Design Core 500 Mini-ITX Chassis

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These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 5~10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.


With its plain looks, the Core 500 is not imbued with a lot of style, but the underlying design is remarkably solid. Though the intake vents along the sides of the front panel are overly restricted by foam linings, it's well ventilated thanks to the large grills on the side and top of the case and fine magnetic filters. The result is a well-cooled machine that can be operated quietly with just the single included exhaust fan.

The chassis is a bit wider than other cases of this type, and the extra girth allows for an additional two 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch drive placements on the right side, complimenting the front drive cage that boasts both a 3.5 inch and a standard 5.25 inch drive mount. Enthusiasts can delight in 280 mm radiator support on the ceiling, provided the aforementioned drive cage is removed. The chassis is also tall enough for lanky tower heatsinks and deep enough to accommodate a 31 cm long graphics card.

My only complaint is that the front panel cables in our sample were only tenuously connected. Glue was applied at the factory to keep the headers connected but they simply wouldn't hold on, with the gentlest of tugs prying them loose. This can be remedied easily enough by the user but it's surprising to see such a defect in a product from a well respected manufacturer.

Overall, the Core 500 is an excellent all-around mini-ITX case and a superb value. It's a faithful translation of Fractal Design's larger Core series cases for the smaller form factor and a fine addition to the pantheon of Shuttle/cube style SFF enclosures.

Our thanks to Fractal Design for the Core 500 case sample.

The Fractal Design Core 500 wins the SPCR's Editor's Choice Award

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