Fractal Design Node 605 HTPC Case Review
Published: 2nd January 2013 | Source: Fractal Design | Price: £139 |
I'll be the first to admit that we're more than a bit OC3D when it comes to cable management. Not just because of the obvious benefits with regards to airflow, but also because of the pure aesthetic glory of a well loomed case. Imagine the horror then when we discovered there was no rear cable routing and only 2 cable tie points. Relax we thought, this isn't a big showy gaming rig with a stonking great window and "look at me" lighting, it's a "less is more" HTPC case. So we relaxed and got cracking with the build.
With the drives racks and the cross brace removed it's an easy enough job to slot in the PSU and Motherboard. As space is tight we recommend PSU first draping the cables over the front of the case out of the way before dropping in the Motherboard. Here we've used a standard ATX board just to show it can be done. with a smaller mini or micro ATX you're going to have quite a bit more room though.
We've talked a bit about these drive hangers or drive racks, so perhaps it's time to let you have a look at them in the flesh as it were. Each hanger is able to accept up to four drives in any combination of 2.5" or 3.5". With 3TB drives now readily available and SSDs crashing in price it's entirely plausible to fit yourself out with 9TB of storage and decent sized boot drive. Mounting the drives is simplicity itself. OK, so it's not "Tool-less" but we still count having to use a screw driver as simple and for that matter as one of the most elementary tools known to man with the possible exception of the hammer, and so should you. If you haven't worked it out by now, the drives simply screw into rubber isolated threads inside each hanger.
It's when we come to place the racks back into their respective slots that things start to get interesting. As there's no cable routing, or management options to speak of you find yourself strategically arranging any unwanted cables into the lowest profile collection you can manage. Why not cable tie them together you ask? Well because that bunches them up, and bunching them up is what we don't want them to do, what we want them to do is lie nice and flat so that we can get the drive racks to fit back in. It's also worth noting that pretty much the only place you can stash these cables is exactly where the optical drive would be had we fitted one.
With both hangers back in we start o get a better idea of how much space we actually have here. In reality the hangers went in just fine with some judicious cable wiggling but it would have been a different story with a slim optical drive, but then as we would have had to use a smaller motherboard we would no doubt have found a home for the cables elsewhere. The astute amongst you will be wondering just how much of a limit those drive racks place on GPU card length, well let us tell you that with both racks fitted you can still fit a card up to 280mm in the top expansion bay slot, as it will slide under the hanger. The rest of the body of the drive rack will however limit your other cards to 180mm in length. Lose a drive rack and you can get cards up to 240mm into the lower expansion drive slots. For other combinations of drives and GPU configs please see the detail in the technical specification on page one. The Node 605 is also able to accept CPU coolers up to 125mm in height. If however you're using a top down type cooler it's recommended you allow 30mm above the cooler for proper airflow, essentially limiting cooler height to 95mm.
And so let's see our Fractal design Node 605 in its natural habitat, the HiFi rack (and yes that is a VCR under there). The 605s sheer size, deep black colour and hairline brushed finish give it great rack presence, reminding us somewhat of a power amp. It's fair to say that in the same way it holds its own amongst other components it will also blend seamlessly into the back ground if simply slipped in alongside your set top box DVD player.