With the small form factor market growing we are finally starting to see a nice variety of case designs available for people who are looking to build Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX PCs. Fractal has been producing a variety of cases for that market basically from their inception. When they introduced their Node 804 I was extremely excited about it. Not only did they keep things fairly small, but they also went with a split design that I am a huge fan of working with on cases. What I mean by a split design is that the power supply and some of the components fit behind the motherboard tray leaving the motherboard side of the case clean. Add to that Fractals typical clean styling and we have the makings of a great case. Well today we have the chance to dig in and check the Node 804 out and find out if it is as great as it looks.

Product Name: Fractal Design Node 804

Review Sample Provided by: Fractal Design

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

 

Specifications

Motherboard Compatibility

Micro ATX and Mini ITX

5.25" Bays

0

3.5" Drive Support

8 + two 2.5/2.5 positions

2.5" Drive Support

2 + two 2.5/2.5 positions

Case dimensions

344 x 307 x 389 mm

Net weight

6 kg

Colors available

Black

Windowed Side Panel

Yes

Graphics card compatibility

Graphics cards up to 320mm in length. Graphics cards up to 290 mm in length may be installed if a fan is installed in the lower position in the front.

CPU Cooler Compatibility

up to 160 mm in height

PSU Compatibility

ATX PSUs up to 260 mm deep

Front interface

2 - USB 3.0

Audio in/out

Power button with LED (blue)

HDD activity LED (white)

Cooling system

Front: 4 – 120mm fans (included is one hydraulic bearing 120mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed)

Rear: 1 - 120/140mm fan (included is a hydraulic bearing 120mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed)

Rear: 1 - 120mm fan slots (included is 1 hydraulic bearing 120mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed)

Top: 4 - 120x140mm fans (not included)

Fan controller: 1 - Integrated fan controller for up to 3 fans (included)

Water cooling compatibility

Front (right chamber) - 240 mm radiator configurations up to 60 mm thick (with fans) and 278 mm tall are allowed.

Front (left chamber) - 240 mm radiator configurations up to 60 mm thick (with fans) and 278 mm tall are allowed. Using a radiator in this position prevents the use of a fan in the top position just next to it.

Top (right chamber) - 240/280 mm radiators up to 130mm thick (with fans) may be fitted if the HDD drive bays are taken out or placed elsewhere. No limitation to thickness.

Top (left chamber) - 240 mm radiator configurations up to 130 mm thick (with fans) will fit. Radiators in this position limits the height of memory modules to 48 mm tall.

Maximum radiator configuration: 1x240mm,1x280mm and 2x120mm radiators simultaneously.

Package contents

Node 804 computer case

Accessory box

User manual

 


Packaging

Fractal stuck with what always works for them on the packaging for the Node 804. That is a standard cardboard box with a line drawing of the case on the front along with the fractal logo and a large black bar with the Node 804 name in it. Around on the side of the box they did include a full specification listing. It’s great to be able to see every detail and measurement before picking the case up, especially when shopping in a store. No one wants to get home and find out that something doesn’t fit. The back of the packaging has a little more information on the case including information on various highlighted features. There is a second line drawing here as well, this time it is of the full case inside and out with everything pulled apart.

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The case itself comes wrapped up in a plastic bag to keep it clean and dry. To keep it safe they use Styrofoam panels on each side. This keeps it spaced out from the edge of the box and absorbs some impact if it gets dropped or tossed around in shipping.

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For documentation Fractal includes a full user guide with tips on building your PC in the case. Inside the case you will also find a small box with all of the screws. You get a small baggie of rubber grommets, a bag full of all black screws, a few zip ties, and a small metal plate.

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Outside

Right from the beginning the Node 804 isn’t like most cases. The design is nearly twice as wide as a basic case but is also shorter. The left side of the case houses the motherboard and the right side of the case has your water cooling, power supply, and storage. The overall design looks like previous Node Mini-ITX models only larger. That means you have a completely clean front panel with the front I/O panel on the right edge as well.

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The front of the cases has a slight curve to it just like previous Fractal Node cases. Along the bottom the first three inches are a metal mesh and the rest of the front panel is brushed aluminum. There really isn’t much to see on the front, beyond the mesh there is a small Fractal Design logo and nothing else.

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The top of the case is made of plastic but mostly consists of a metal mesh. This is a large portion of the ventilation on the Node 804.

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The right side of the case has a solid panel. This is also where you will find the front I/O panel. Fractal gives you two USB 3.0 ports, a power button, and microphone/headphone ports. Up a little higher then even include a small slit for a slot loading slim DVD/BlueRay drive.

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Around on the back we can finally get a real look at the layout of the Node 804. We can see the split design. On the left you have the power supply mount on the bottom and an exhaust fan. On the right side we have another exhaust fan along with the rear I/O panel and five PCI slot covers. The space above the PCI slots is also ventilated as well for additional airflow. On the back we also have access to the thumbscrews that hold both side panels on as well as the top panel. Down along the bottom edge we can also pull the bottom intake filters out for cleaning. 

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The left side of the case that houses the motherboard is the only side with a side panel window. This means you can hide all of the wiring on the back section and have a clean looking view at your motherboard/video card.

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The bottom of the case gives us a better look at the two intake fan filters that come with the Node 804. The motherboard side of the case has a full 240mm intake filter and the power supply side of the case has a smaller filter that is just for the intake fan of your power supply. The feet on the Node 804 are a little unique a well. I noticed when taking photos that the case would basically stick to the table, more than cases normally do. When looking I noticed that Fractal used the same material that people use to hold phones and other devices right to your car dash. It doesn’t have an adhesive in it, but it is naturally sticky. You shouldn’t have to worry about the Node 804 falling off of your desk at all.

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Inside

When digging into the Node 804, the first thing I did was take a peak under than plastic top panel. As we can see under the mesh is a large vented area. Both sides of the case have room to install 120 or 140mm fans. The two hard drive cages do block this, but it is nice that they left the option should you need the extra cooling over additional hard drive capacity.

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Peeking into the motherboard side of the Node 804 the layout is very simple. There are two 120mm fans included with the case on this side, one is on the front as an intake fan and the other is an exhaust fan on the rear. Above the rear fan is a small PCB for the built in fan controller. There is a power plug as well as fan plugs. Farther down the left side are the five PCI slots with slotted white covers. The motherboard tray itself has three main cutouts in it as well as a small cutout near where a 4/8 pin CPU plug normally goes. The largest of the three holes is directly under the motherboard giving you full access to the back of the board for installing heatsinks. The second is tall and over on the right side, I assume this is for wire management but it seems a little far from the motherboard for the best possible wire management. Ideally I would like to see the hole behind the motherboard tray me a little smaller and the right hole be in place of the tall indented section to the right of the board. The third section is smaller and along the bottom edge.

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The bottom of the motherboard side is setup to handle a 240mm radiator or if you want it has mounting holes for hard drives as well. Not photographed there are also two small 2.5 inch drive mounts behind the front panel of the case as well. The front of this section also has another 120mm fan mount under the intake fan already included.

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The back section is kind of like an employee only area. We have all of the parts that keep everything running back here while the motherboard and video card out front get all of the recognition. Just like the other side we have a fan included as an exhaust fan already on the back. There are also two fan mounts on the front as well as the top mounts that were mentioned earlier. The top part of this section is taken up by two bright white hard drive mounts. Each holds 8 3.5 inch hard drives should you need that much space. This is in addition to the two flex mounts on the motherboard side that holds 2.5 or 3.5 inch drives and the two 2.5 inch mounts behind the front panel. In all you can install up to 12 drives in the Node 804! Down on the bottom half this is where your power supply is going to mount, the open design means there shouldn’t be any limitations on power supply length at all, it will cut into wire management room though. Speaking of wire management, Fractal slipped in a cool Velcro strap on the bottom of the case to help keep your wiring as clean as possible, even in the back of the case.

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Installation and Performance

Before I could get to testing I did have to install our test bench into the Node 804. Sadly my Micro-ATX board was MIA so I had to dig out a random Mini-ITX board for testing. It didn’t put out the heat that our 4770k powered board would, but it still supported the GTX 980 that would generate most of our heat. To get started I had to install the motherboard risers, I was a little bummed that at least the four for Mini-ITX didn’t come installed like they do on some other boards. Even so the board went in quickly with just four screws. The GTX 980 went in quickly as well and frankly there is more than enough room for an even longer card should you need it. The Node 804 will also support taller cards as well, there are a few inches from the top of the card to the side panel. From there I just had to flip the case around and get our hard drive in and wire up the power supply. Installing the hard drive in the cages did require me to pull the cage out to get to the back screws, with a hard drive in I could see just how much room the filled cages would take up as well, there is just barely enough room to run your wiring between the hard drive and our power supply. Routing our cabling was easy although I would still prefer the hole to be closer to the side of the board. The Velcro hold down was a nice way to clean up the largest portion of the wiring, making the back of the case nearly as presentable as the front. The only real issue I ran into was when I tried to power the fan controller, the attached power cable was just short enough that it requires the connection to be on the motherboard side. For the cleanest wiring I would like that cable to be a little longer to reach behind the motherboard tray or even better having the fan controller behind the motherboard tray completely.

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With everything installed I spent a little time toying with the fan controller to see how noisy the included fans were. Honestly even at the full fan speed it wasn’t an issue at all. The three included fans were enough to keep things running cool as well but the case is designed to handle a LOT more if you are interested in upping your cooling.

When it came to everyday use I was a little concerned that the wider case design would take up to much room on a desk or even worse at a LAN. You do have to give up some space on a home desk, especially because you won’t be able to hide the computer inside of your desk, but it’s not a big deal. For LAN use the larger size will make things a little tighter though in the 3 foot area that most events give you. It is doable, but you will be cutting out what extra space you had left.

 


Overall and Final Verdict

The Fractal Node 804 falls into a weird size category that gives you the impression it is smaller because of its shorter height and Micro-ATX size. But in reality with Fractal making it such a wide case you actually have the same internal size as most full sized cases but with less motherboard to fill the space. Because of this you end up with a wide selection of both storage and cooling options. If you wanted the Node 804 can hold up to 12 hard drives or if you want you could just use the two drive bays hidden behind the front panel and just pack the case full of water cooling. With all of that flexibility the Node 804 will make a lot of people happy.

The only downsides to the case are fairly small. If they did a redesign in the future I would love to see them move the built in fan controller back behind the motherboard tray for cleaner wiring or at least give it longer cords. The other thing to keep in mind is that the wider design does mean it will take up more room on your desk. That means a little less room at LANs as well.

At the end of the day the downsides I mentioned are trivial issues and frankly this is a great looking case. You still get Fractals typical amazing build quality and durability. The Node 804 has the clean Fractal styling as well. I would expect the Node 804 to sell for over $100 but surprisingly you can pick it up for $69.99 currently. Assuming you have the space and you are open to building a Mini-ITX or Micro-ATX case this is a great option. Especially if you are interested in adding custom water cooling or are addicted to having a crazy number of hard drives in your system. 

fv4value

 

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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VaporX's Avatar
VaporX replied the topic: #35920 29 Nov 2014 14:50
The move to SFF building continues to grow. For me personally anything over an mATX sized case is just to big and bulky. Right now for me there are two companies fighting for my case of choice and Fractal is one of them. The Node series is amazing and the Define Mini as well as Arc mini give you two other styling options while staying small.

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