Assembling the Fractal Design Node 605

The Fractal Design Node 605, when opened up, looks like it's going to be pretty easy to assemble a system inside. Thankfully that turned out to be true; the Node 605 is probably the easiest media center case I've ever built. What absolutely must be kept in mind is something I mentioned earlier: the Node 605 supports a lot of different hardware, but it does not necessarily support it all at once. So while you can definitely mount an ATX motherboard in the Node 605, the heatsink on our ATX/MicroATX testbed wouldn't fit, so as with the SilverStone Grandia GD07 I elected to go with the mITX testbed. That turned out to be absolutely the right choice when testing came around.

Fractal Design doesn't have any studs or standoffs pre-installed, so you'll have to put those in for your motherboard yourself. This is a convenience I've been starting to see on less and less expensive cases, and given the high price of the Node 605 I'm tempted to ding them at least a little for not including it. Getting the motherboard in and everything hooked up was fairly simple, though, but note that cable management is basically non-existent in this case.

Installing the power supply was easy, too, but where things got heady was when I installed the GeForce GTX 560 Ti. To install a video card, it's best practice to remove the bar in the center of the case with the two drive cages so you have more room. Where things got dicey was when I had to reinstall the bar: the top-mounted power leads for the 560 Ti actually conflicted with the bar. You can see in the photo how clearance became an issue.

The drive cages themselves are easy enough to use, as Fractal Design carried over the design from the Node 304. What I said about the Node 605 supporting a lot of hardware but not necessarily simultaneously comes up again here; take a look at the clearance issues potentially posed by the placement of the drive cages.

Wiring the Node 605 up was easy, but as I said there's virtually no allowance made for cable management. You can see that the leads from the power supply run in front of the fan and circle around to the motherboard. Some zip-ties could certainly go some of the way towards cleaning up cabling, but there's just nowhere to put the cables themselves. What I'd really like to see is an HTPC enclosure that has space beneath the motherboard tray for routing cables.

Putting the Node 605 together resulted in a couple of hiccups but nothing serious. Just because the case can fit a full ATX motherboard doesn't mean you should, though; the mITX board looks roughly the right size and I'd hesitate to install anything bigger than a Micro-ATX board. It's true that using a Micro-ATX or ATX board with the PCIe x16 slot one space down might alleviate clearance issues with the center retaining bar, but remember that you then have to contend with the drive cages, and in my assembly I'm already working with one of them missing.

In and Around the Fractal Design Node 605 Testing Methodology
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  • Aikouka - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    It makes you wonder if they were trying to compete with Lian-Li as if I remember correctly, $150 is pretty much Lian-Li's price point for their tall HTPC case offerings. Although, aren't Lian-Li's cases typically ALL aluminum, which usually lets people justify a higher price tag? Reply
  • ypsylon - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    Compared to Lian-Li this thing is a joke. Build quality cannot be compared to LL. Steel HTPC/Desktop case which cost 160$$$?! Somebody hold me before I explode with laughter.

    :runningaroundincircleslaughinglikemad:

    It has pretty much only one Pro: it can hold full ATX board which many of HTPC cases can't. Still LL or Silverstone have cases which can do same thing with far superior quality and features.
    Reply
  • alwayssts - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    When I bought a LL PC-C50b I probably would've considered this if it were available and cheaper. This is seemingly aimed squarely at that model. I have no idea if it has been successful or not, but it was essentially the only case that would do what a lot of enthusiasts probably want or will want as these setups gain even more traction:

    1. 120mm mounts on the sides because 80mm fans make no sense for this large of a case or it's likely environment. There are so very, very few that are not either much larger or a cube. Which doesn't make sense because you need the height for...
    2. Space for an ~225w full-height graphics card (ie anything not x900/x80 length because it would likely get too hot in these cases) pc-c50 says 250mm which is exactly the spec of my 7870. There's slightly more room, but I would doubt 290mm. They probably figured space for the peg connectors, which of course are now usually on the side of cards (top when installed).
    3. Clearance for a nice top-down cooler with appropriate venting (apparently only LL understands this). I'm sure I'm not the only htpc'er out there with a noctua c14 or similar that needs to pull air from somewhere.
    4. Space for a regular (likely modular) power supply.

    Here we are a year or so later and something is finally available that is similar, but it's still not cheaper, and with the proliferation of mobo headers and pwm fans, the fan controller is hardly a value-add IMHO. The only plus I see are dust filters (that granted I had to do myself...and wasn't fun). Neither have IR, which is also kind of a bummer but obviously remedied easily-enough if you want it.

    I wish there were more cases like this. It's about as no-compromise as you're going to get while still fitting on an AV shelf and fitting in with components like an AVR/DVR etc, and really...who needs more than that with the current state of hardware and TVs?
    Reply
  • Interitus - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    First I'm going to say +1 to the comment about AT not at least attempting to swap fan positions and add more, then reporting back with different results. Honestly, you're not doing either the product or your review any justice by skipping what anyone reading this site would undoubtedly do if they received one of these cases for free ... tinker with it. Any enthusiast likely has fans lying around, and I'm sure you guys do too. I don't even remember the last time I bought a case and just left it the way it came out of the box.

    As far as Fractal goes, there's a few major fails here. How much effort would it have taken to make the bar mounting holes elongated ovals (and on the white drive mounts too) so that they're adjustable to some extent? There's gobs of room in there, especially with an mITX board. And those huge front panel cables... at least raise the MB tray so you can run wires under it or something.

    Overall I think it deserves a good scolding for that terrible bar placement, but it's hard to knock its other supposed downfalls when there's no effort or creativity put into solving them. Sure you could argue that the customer shouldn't have to, but are we assuming the customer is going to use a GTX560Ti? It's pretty much a given these days that the manufacturers include the bare minimum to keep costs down. In a bare minimum config, the case doesn't perform terribly. Throw some 80mm exhausts in there and it's a different story I'm guessing.
    Reply
  • jabber - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    I mean really, after all these years most cases still look like drek. I'm talking from a visual stand-point. I'm not that anal about heat and airflow, I'm happy to compromise if it doesn't look like a turd on my desk or under it.

    This one doesn't look great. Just a hulking lump of black with ports etc. that look like a cut out after-thought behind a flap. Too many just seem to lose the design greatness when it comes to the functional bits. Cant the bit behind the flap or door look great too?

    After 20+ years of PC use I still haven't seen a case I have truly thought.."that looks really fantastic!"

    Surely it can't be that hard?
    Reply
  • ggathagan - Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - link

    What kind of stylistic touches would you find attractive?
    Once a decision is made to design a case to fit in with the standard home audio component look, you're somewhat limited in what can be done from a style perspective.
    Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, January 3, 2013 - link

    I'll know it when I see it.

    I just know that case (and others like it) is not what I want sitting in my living room.

    Its a monstrosity.

    For a start if its only doing home theatre work why the hell does it need all those 120mm fans? Why ATX?

    A case designed by committee if ever there was one.
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Friday, March 1, 2013 - link

    Bigger fans are quieter than smaller ones. Reply
  • thereddog - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    Nice review, thanks.

    Personally, I chose the Silverstone GD06 when I built my HTPC 18 months ago. Everything performed well, but it's not that quiet nor cool (AMD 955BE + 5750).

    I think that ATX is overkill and that Silverstone designs that are ITX and mATX only are superior designs. I would also love to see a slightly taller HTPC with room below the motherboard for cable management. I also agree on adding/replacing fans in the review to show what the case is really capable of.
    Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    > 1x 120mm intake fan on each side

    Really? Wouldn't bottom (PSU) to top airflow work better?
    Reply

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