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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  • Blibbax - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    If you for some reason insist on using only two fans, have one at the side (next to the PSU, I suppose) as an intake, and one next to the CPU above the backplate as an exhaust.

    Fractal have done what they have with the fans because they (rightly) assume that users will want to drop in at least one of their own choice of exhaust fan. Ignoring this in an otherwise excellent and well thought out review is a huge shame imo.
    Reply
  • chrissp - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    I havent seen any reviews for the Origin AE lineup on your site? I have the s14v in black and it is the nicest htpc case on the market imo. it is expensive but its made from a solid block of aluminium so i think its worth it.

    would love to see some reviews for their ranges on here.

    thanks for the great great reviews.

    chris
    Reply
  • Conficio - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    Really, what do you do with ports behind a flap? I might understand it for a card reader and may be a DVD drive? But head phones and mic and USB ports behind a flap? What is the user experience of this? If I use such things, the flap needs to stay open, so making the entire design horrid. I'd understand if the USB ports would be sideways and the flap had side channels to route the cables of an external drive, so I can still close it. But mic and head phone ports need to be outside of the flap!

    For that price, I'd like to see some display included, that can be controlled by software. I'd think that it must be possible to produce a simple display with a USB interface that can show output channel, and volume, etc. just by the virtue of it's driver. Not to mention adding any sort tuner card and being able to see tune information or similar.
    Reply
  • kenyee - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    with a 2500K, it's not even audible and there's enough space.
    Would have been nice if this case worked well though...having space for 4 drives would have been nice...
    Reply
  • smitty123 - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    i don't need flash , just something else than a gray slab. Reply
  • rockoqatsi - Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - link

    I don't need flash either. And I'll deviate from most posters and say that this is one of the best HTPC chassis I've ever seen for the money (if only just from the front.)

    I like that the optical bay and all of the I/O ports are behind a flap. I don't need (visible) ports, a headphone or mic jack, and all sorts of buttons---and certainly not a volume knob---on my HTPC. I have a bloody preamp for that. And as far as VFDs and touchscreens go, they look pretty, but at the end of the day are a distraction. Touchscreens are for remotes anyway. An HTPC should be like Seraph from The Matrix: dark, svelte, mysterious, pretty, and silent.

    So on the outside the Node 605 does just fine for me. It's such a shame the interior was designed by an ape. Why did they put the HDD hangers on the same side as the expansion slots, power supply and optical bay? The cpu side is like Montana and the other is like Tokyo. No f---ing sense for a case this size.
    Reply
  • perrydoell - Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - link

    After all these years, and no case designer cares to design their case with airflow in mind?

    I mean, all I see is a box with holes all around it. You design your own airflow, depending upon what you put in and where you put the fans. I'm sure a thermal engineer geek (I'm an electrical engineering geek myself :-P ) could design a case that has a single, well defined airflow path that could have far better thermal and accoustic performance than you or I could manage.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Thursday, January 3, 2013 - link

    Silverstone TJ08-E springs to mind as clearly designed around proper airflow.

    Personally I wonder why there is a need for these big HTPC cases. To be honest they are nothing more than a standard 1990s case laid on its side. Having built a silent HTPC, mini-itx motherboard was sufficient for me (but I do have a separate NAS for storage), although I accept some audiophiles will want a separate audio card
    Reply
  • Wwhat - Sunday, January 6, 2013 - link

    It's amazing how involved people get with something that is just a metal box.
    And even more amazing and odd what some companies ask for it. Especially since some devices/tools/vehicles come with large metal housings and those don't seem to significantly influence the cost half the time.

    But on the other hand some basically simple spare parts for cars that are very basic are also sold for outrageous prices if they are hard to source. It truly is a fine example of price and demand and making a business out of things.
    Reply
  • dj christian - Thursday, January 10, 2013 - link

    "ATX motherboard support on the right side of the case, power supply standing on its side on the left."

    should be

    ATX motherboard support on the left side of the case, power supply standing on its side on the right.
    Reply

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