Fractal Design is continuing on a tradition with the Node 804 that past customers, and even us as reviewers, have come to expect. For one, we like that they seem to always try to rid designs of their basic looking fronts. With the Node 804, not only do we have curves and a mix of plastic and steel mesh, but everything is made to look sleek and simple in any situation; even down to the brushed texture, the tiny name next to the LED, and the front I/O being around the side. Of course, this chassis is geared more for the gamers and enthusiasts that are planning to go all out with water cooling on a Micro-ATX, or Mini-ITX based system, but because of its more compact size and sleek aesthetics, there is no reason this couldn't find a home as an HTPC, or Media Storage box on the network. The Node 804 will look just as good in any environment you choose to use it in.
I know many of you out there are thinking this is essentially an Air 540 that has been made slightly more compact, and has lost ATX compatibility, and in many ways you are spot on. We knew when we initially saw that chassis that it wouldn't be long until others took a similar angle to make their mark. While Fractal is sort of on the same plane as that chassis, as we stated way in the beginning, being fractal Design, they have accomplished what they wanted while adding style and grace to the exterior, and doing things their own way on the interior. Fractal Design was also able to deliver a system with three fans run from one controller, and even when power is maximized, their sound level into the office was almost negligible. Even with just three of the ten possible fans installed, we found it was enough airflow to allow us better than average CPU temperatures. As for the GPU, well, due to the CPU cooler making us drop the card a slot on the board, it was now drawing air through the floor, and running cooler than in cases with more room under them. So, even with this trio of fans, and the passive air flow they draw, even our single HDD was kept chilly during testing.
All of this gloating about what the Node 804 can do, and we haven't even touched on the water cooling aspect of things yet either. Essentially, there are five, possibly six, locations for radiator placement potential, but not all at once. The roof of the chassis can house radiators on either side, and is plenty for a CPU and GPU in one loop. Depending on what is used, you may also want to look into radiators in the front of the chassis, where again, we can have one on either side. Then, if you look into single radiators, there are two fans in the back as well, and with the right gear, there is no reason why they couldn't go there too. As we said, with careful planning, and making sure you have all the right gear, the CPU and motherboard could be on one loop, and there is still room for more to cool an SLI or Crossfire setup too.
If you aren't that picky when shopping, you may find yourself paying the nearly $130 price tag it requires to own this chassis from about ninety-nine percent of the places we looked. At that price point, we still feel that the Node 804, and all it offers, is well worth this above average pricing. However, the savvy shopper will find that there is a much better deal to be had, and we might as well take any advantage we can get when buying a chassis. The savings that can be had if you buy this Node 804 right is the difference between a new pump, a thicker radiator, or the cost of four averagely priced fans to fill empty holes. Any way you look at it, cheaper is always better, and when it comes to the Node 804, you get your money's worth. For those who don't need ATX support, this chassis is one that can start life off simple, allowing you to graduate to bigger and better builds as your wallet limits and skill set increases, making that investment stretch further and further. As you can likely tell, even if the basic idea has already been seen, and there will be more to come for sure: We find that Fractal Design really did their homework, and offers some serious contention to the market with the Node 804.
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