Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
In everything we have seen from Fractal Design over the years, three things come to mind immediately. First is the fact that their cases are made of thick gauge steel, making them hefty for their size, but also makes for a near bullet proof enclosure for your hardware. Secondly, there has not been a chassis that we didn't like due to their feature sets, and the ingenuity in their designs that offers modularity and leads to easy installs. Lastly, all of their designs come in a subdued package externally. This allows any of their cases to go anywhere in the house, whether as a gamer, an email and web browsing box or even in the home theater environment, Fractal Design has an answer to any of your chassis needs.
While we just saw the Core 500, we had the opportunity to see what an SFF "shoebox" chassis is delivering these days, and we liked what we saw there too. The idea, this time, is much the same, sticking with Mini-ITX based systems, but rather than compact and squat in shape, we are moving to broad and flat design. Cases like this have been a huge hit in the realm of HTPCs or in areas where room is very limited; these media boxes have moved from an open cavity in which you haphazardly tossed parts into, to cases that are well thought out with every component being as refined as possible. Just because you may want to save room for your high horsepower PC should not mean that you have to give up on quality, and Fractal Design is proving just that in the chassis we are bringing forth today.
The chassis we are scrutinizing is the Node 202, which is available two ways. There is the standard Node 202, and Fractal Design is also offering a Node 202 plus an Integra SFX 450W PSU, which is the variant we have in hand. What sets this design apart from many other similar designs is that not only is the interior compartmentalized to improve cooling for each component, this chassis is offered as a fan-less design. While being a virtual tank of a chassis, it can lie flat or be turned on edge, resting in a provided cradle. Of course, when dealing with Fractal Design, we know there are many more additional things we could carry on about, but we will address this all in time, as we cover the Node 202 with optional Integra SFX 450W PSU, and find out just how much the Node series of cases has evolved.
The Node 202 is made for Mini-ITX motherboards and reduces drive storage options to just two 2.5mm drives. There are two expansion slots at the back, two optional fan locations if not using a video card, it will allow the use of 56mm tall CPU coolers, and will also accept SFX power supplies up to 130mm in length. The graphics card does have some restrictions, but factory-built cards should be of no concern size wise. The chassis can be stood horizontally or vertically, and it also has three dust filters found around the chassis. The total volume of this black steel chassis is only 10.2 liters, contained within 377mm of width, 88mm of height, and 332mm of depth. All told, with the chassis empty, it weighs in at 3.5kg, which is near eight pounds.
The next section of the chart offers up information about the front I/O panel as well as the package contents. As to the front I/O panel, the Node 202 delivers two USB 3.0 ports, 3.5mm HD Audio jacks, and a large power button with an indicator light backed with a white LED. There is quite a bit that comes in the box along with the chassis as well. There is the Node 202 inside, and ours was shipped with the Integra SFX 450W PSU. There is a box of hardware, a user manual, the vertical stand that we addressed earlier, and a pair of hard riser cards that allow the graphics card to lie flat in the chassis rather than at ninety degrees to the motherboard.
There is also a large chart provided for just the Integra PSU. It is an 80 Plus Bronze rated unit with a three-year warranty and all sorts of built in protection. We also see that there is plenty when it comes to the connected PSU leads. There is the 24-pin, a four plus four 8-pin, a pair six plus two GPU connections on one lead, and the same is done with the pair of SATA connection, as they run from one lead as well. Along with the connectivity, the length of the cabling is also offered, and in this chassis, there is plenty of wiring to get any system inside powered. Lastly, there is a breakdown of the Amperage and Wattage of the individual leads, and how it received the 450W rating.
When it comes to locating the Node 202, we had no issues in doing so. Keep in mind, though, there are two variations, and the pricing moves $60 between the two models. The vanilla Node 202 can be found at Newegg and Amazon, but Newegg is selling it for just $79.99, where Amazon shows a price of $96.33. If you plan to opt for the included PSU model, while Amazon is asking $151.21, Newegg again beats that with a listing of just $139.99. Shop wisely. Whichever version you opt to go for, but from what we already know, without a power supply, the chassis is well worth the near $80 asking price, and to add in a 450W SFX power supply that is almost made specifically for a chassis this size, the $60 bump is also found to be worth it. You will run into much less conflict of the dimensions as well as not having to deal with cables that are way too long by choosing to use the Integra. We honestly do not see how you could go wrong with a chassis like the Node 202 Mini-ITX chassis whether confined in space or not.
Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD4-B3
- CPU: Intel Core i7 2600K (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair H80i GT (buy from Amazon)
- Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws F3-12800CL6D-4GBXH
- Video Card: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 AMP. Extreme Edition (buy from Amazon)
- Storage: SuperSpeed 128GB SSD
- Power Supply: SilverStone SST-ST85F-G (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
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