Fractal Design Node 202 ITX Case Review
Published: 29th February 2016 | Source: Fractal Design | Price: £119.99 @ OCUK |
With its silk Black finish and gloss Black highlights the node 202 from Fractal is quite an attractive if somewhat maturely understated case. Although it can be mounted horizontally with the supplied self adhesive rubber feet, enabling it to fit into even the tightest of AV racks, it does, we think, look better slotted into its stand and stood up vertically. Measuring just 377x82x330mm (WxHxD) it's not exactly huge, even if the width does rise to 125mm with the stand attached. With just four screws holding the lid on opening the case up is easy enough, although getting the base section off to clean some of the filters is a bit more a fiddle. With a case as small as this it's not surprising that it will only take M-ITX motherboards and SFX PSUs. in fact, the one we have for review comes with an Integra 450W PSU. This version will set you back a smidge under £120, but if you'd rather fit your own PSU then there's a version available for £70.
Turning now to the inside. When Fractal looked at storage options they chose only to support a pair of 2.5" drives. As these can be had big and cheap these days and with the prevalence of cloud storage this isn't such as a big deal as it used to be, and it does enable them to keep the case as small as it can be. The one measurement we weren't expecting to be delighted with though was the Maximum GPU length. At 310mm it's fair to say we're more than happy. OK, so you're going to have to keep the GPU under 145mm ddep and 47mm thick, but that shouldn't be a problem for most twin slot cards, just maybe those that sprout copper pipes left right and center. Fractal have managed this amazing feat by utilising a ninety degree riser card and giving over pretty much half of the interior to the GPU area. From a cooling perspective, although there's no active cooling at all in the case, the GPU, CPU and PSU all benefit from filtered intakes/exhausts, with a particularly large one over the GPU.
So what's not to like with this case? Well if your looking for something to make a statement with the mature styling of the 202 might leave you a little cold, and when mounted flat it does look more than a little bit like a glamorous Dell or HP box to be honest. Stick it under and AV unit so you can only see the gloss highlighted front and this isn't so much of an issue though. What does bother us though is that for a case that's designed to take large GPUs, and is therefore at least nodding towards gaming or a powerful AV machine it's a little surprising that the CPU cooler height is limited to just 56mm. Have a look around and you'll see that this severely limits your choice of coolers leaving you with a few Noctuas, the odd Zalman and a few others. This of course will not only limit any hopes of an overclock, but will also impact on the actual max TDP of the CPU you choose.
The only other real thing we have issue with is the price. With or without the PSU we think it's a little high for what it is. OK, it's a nice case, but we would have thought closer to £55 for the non PSU and just over £100 for the version with the 450W Integra unit already installed. If anything we think the integral PSU version we've looked at represents slightly better value, but it's still eye wateringly expensive for a posh compact desktop or a trendy little AV unit, somewhat hobbled by it's ability to provide little more than basic CPU cooling.