Fractal Design Node 804 Micro ATX Case Review


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Fractal Design Node 804 Overview

The Node 804 joins two others in Fractal Design’s “Node” series of chassis.  Currently comprised of the mini-ITX Node 304 and the ATX Node 605, the new Node 804 fits nicely in its own niche between the two.  Focusing on cooling performance and configurability, this Node is probably the most “high performance” capable Node yet.


The Node 804 uses a very similar approach to design as the other members of the Node family.  The familiar Scandinavian conservative lines, rounded corners and brushed aluminum over a steel internal frame maintain the tastefully elegant design associated with all of Fractal Design’s enclosures.  The front of the 804 has almost identical proportions as the Node 304, with an additional mesh intake under the brushed aluminum front panel.  The I/O cluster and power button are still located along the lower right side, but while the smaller 304 hid two 92mm fans behind its front panel the micro-ATX 804 has a few more surprises.  Two dust filters, four 120mm fan mounts, a slim slot-load optical drive bay and two 2.5″ drive mounts sit directly behind the wrap-around brushed aluminum.  This is shaping up to be a different chassis, indeed…


The Node 804 uses the typical slotted sliding panels common to many cases.  I almost universally prefer hinged side panels, but the smaller size and almost square construction of the Node 804 means these panels are effortless to take off and put on – I have no complaints when slotted side panels are this painless to work with (a rarity among cases that use this design).  With a crystal clear window on the left panel offering a view of the motherboard, CPU and GPU(s), you won’t need to worry quite as much about the window revealing a mess of cables as those are all contained on the right half of the case.


The right side panel is featureless, although the front panel I/O ports and power button are visible in the front (along with the slim slot-load optical drive port).  The optional optical drive won’t have any external eject button (I assume this is common with the slim slot-load variety) so you’ll need to rely on software to remove discs if you plan to install a drive here.  Incidentally, the side panels are not reversible – not that you’d prefer to show off your drives and power supply rather than your graphics card and CPU cooler, right?


The rear of the Node 804 reveals many details about the internal layout.  The “right” side in the photo above (left chamber of the case when viewed from the front) is obviously the area that houses the motherboard, central processor and expansion cards (with five PCI slot covers allowing for cooler Crossfire/SLI configurations).  Two Silent Series R2 120mm fans (hydraulic bearings, 1000 RPM) arrive stock for this section, and their linear positions should result in decent stock performance.  Of course, there are many more fan positions available (another 120mm in front, 2×140 or 2×120 up top) – and we haven’t even gotten to the other side yet.  That side (left above, right chamber when viewed from the front) houses two racks of four 3.5″ drives, as well as the power supply and another Silent Series R2 120mm fan in an exhaust configuration.  You probably guessed that there were some fan mounts available on this side as well – with the exception of being able to fit a larger 140mm exhaust fan, the top (2×120 or 2×140) and front (2×120) mirror the other chamber.  The three included 120mm fans are all controlled by a switch on the back panel, with High / Medium / Low settings.


The optional top fan mounts are filtered just like the front (and bottom) with the entire top panel acting as a mesh intake/dust filter.  This panel can be removed on its own, no need to remove any side panels or the front panel first which comes in handy for cleaning.  Under the mesh there are a series of plastic baffles that help redirect any noise away from the front of the case, which should help keep component noise down.  The mesh used is a very fine round-hole mesh, hopefully it isn’t too restrictive…  Since it is comprised of smaller holes, it’s structurally very sound for a giant mesh panel.  When viewed from an angle it almost blends into the rest of the chassis, simply looking like another panel.


All of the bottom fan mounts are filtered as well, although for the PSU filter you’ll need to lift the entire chassis up to access it – same for the front dust filters, for that matter.  It’s a relatively small chassis overall so that shouldn’t be that much of an inconvenience.  Certainly not as inconvenient as dusting out all of your components (instead of just a few filters) anyway.  Four rubber feet keep the Node 804 from sliding around, but the wide footprint especially results in a very stable chassis.  Otherwise, the bottom of two velcro straps (for cable management) are the only other points of interest on the bottom of the Node 804 (other than the two optional 2.5″ drive mounts on the floor of the main chamber).


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1 comment

  1. Johnniedoo

    Great review, almost missed the part covering the front panel and optical drive. I still use one for blu ray and dvd movie back up to NAS, home cloud products. I am glad to have seen this option for another or next project. Fantastic possibilities and all this in a more manageable size.

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