As with anything else Fractal Design has delivered in chassis design in the past, the Node 304 is very sturdy, and even when empty, it is surprisingly weighty. Once you get through the build process and go to move this compact chassis around, the weight is even more of a surprise. This is mainly due to the over building of the chassis frame to give it a very stable structure even with the top of the chassis removed. Even when I removed the center support bar, the chassis was still in square and didn't distort. As for the features included with the Node 304, you get everything one needs. It offers USB 3.0 ready to go back to USB 2.0 if needed, a sleek looking exterior, removable dust filters, and plenty of ventilation. As long as you play by the rules with the PSU size limitations, the Node 304 can encompass a very powerful system. The only thing I find lacking is an easy way to carry this small piece of work to a LAN event, as I am sure outside of maybe an HTPC, or a space saving desktop rig, that is where most of these cases are going to be used.
I really liked the fact that you get three fans in the chassis out of the box. The pair of 92mm intake fans provides plenty of air flow to the CPU and the drives hanging in the modular bays. Combined with the three fan controller built into the chassis, users can define what is comfortable for their environment. With the switch set to "L" for low, there isn't any noise you can hear outside of a foot away from the chassis, and the feel of the flow to the hand is very low. What is really nice is that even when set to the "H" position, the high speed of the Silent Series R2 fans even within a foot of the chassis there is a minimal hum heard near the chassis. Outside of three feet from the chassis I could not hear it at all.
I have seen quite a few of these Mini-ITX SFF chassis designs, and to tell you the truth, while not being a BitFenix Prodigy killer, the Node 304 does stand its ground. It may not offer water cooling compatibility, but the sleek looks, innovative interior, and the compact design all has its merits. The real issue I have is no matter how much I like this design, the Prodigy is also right at this same price point. If you want the elegance of a Lian Li or a Silverstone chassis without that serious price tag, the Node 304 fits that bill and definitely has its place in the market.
That all being said, I still do like the Node 304 very much, even with the limitations it poses on components used. For $90.85 there are other solutions out there, but none that look this sleek and simple.
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