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Enclosure ITX / SFF Case Contest #1 - Fractal Design Node 202 Review

Crossfire Machines

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Oct 8, 2018
30
47
This time the Node 202 from Fractal Design had to assert itself in my tests. The case can be mounted horizontally or vertically with the included stand, these tests were conducted in the standing position. I'll explain disadvantages this might have for some GPUs later.
In contrast to many other cases Fractal Design uses a "stacked" construction with a fixed riser bracket and 2-chamber system.

German Version > PCHMG and Tech-Port
Picture Mirror > Imgur


Features / Specs
Size (H x W x D): 37,7cm x 8,20cm x 33,0cm
Volume: 10,2 litre
Weight: 3,5kg
Material: Aluminium / Plastic

CPU-Cooler: up to 56mm
Graphicscard: 2 Slot up to 31,0cm x 14x5cm x 4,70cm
PSU: SFX up to 130mm, Integra 450W inlcuded in this version
Fans: 2x 120mm (GPU-chamberr) + 1x 120mm (CPU-chamber) with some coolers
> Datasheet / Manufacturer Page


Packaging / Delivery
Fractal Design also uses the well-known brown cardboard with various imprints. The case itself is bagged and surrounded by hard polystyrene. I had liked to see rubber-like foam (see LC-1500Smi), but everything is still so well protected that I would send a complete system in it without hesitation. The carton is only slightly bigger than the case itself and therefore quite handy.




Included is a solid PCIe riser "card", various screws, self-adhesive rubber feet, an extra long power cable and in my case an already installed Integra 450W SFX power supply. A version without power supply is also available. Dust filters for GPU, CPU and power supply are already built into the case. Fractal Design shows here clearly they attach importance to high-quality accessory!


Assembly
The two parts of the housing are held together with 4 long screws.
If these are unscrewed, the "cover" can be released and removed. The flat design makes it possible to reach every component at any time, the installation is accordingly pleasant.
I advise you to proceed in the following order:

1. Install CPU, RAM and M.2 SSD into the mainboard
2. Mount the CPU cooler
3. Lift mainboard into case and screw tight
4. Install PSU in the case
5. Connect Front USB/Panel/Audio, ATX / EPS / GPU Power
6. Insert PCIe riser card
7. Remove PCI cover
8. Slot in your graphics card
9. Tighten the PCIe riser card screws
10. Put back the sidepanel

The Node 202 uses a 2-chamber system and strictly separates the graphics card from the rest.ATX power cables and the front I/O cables can be easily stowed directly in front of the power supply unit, and the CPU power supply can be laid between the power supply unit, mainboard and case.
Depending on the graphics card, the GPU cables, front I/O and the extension of the power supply should best be laid over the front and fixed so that they don't get into the fans.









Some owners of the Node 202 seem to have problems aligning their graphics cards correctly with the screw holes in the PCI slot. In my case it just needed some pressure, then everything fits perfectly. Alternatively, the PCIe-Riser can be screwed down after installing the graphics card like I mentioned earlier.


Temperatures
All data from stresstests and benchmarks were logged with Aida64 Extreme 5.98.4900 in intervals of 1 second. Each test ran for 30 minutes, then 30 minutes "cooling time".
The ambient temperature was also recorded every 30 minutes and is subtracted so that different ambient temperatures do not falsify the final result and allow direct comparison between the cases.
All temperature data (dCPU & dGPU) are therefore delta values, thus the difference to the room temperature and not the direct component temperature. The maximum component temperature for every test is listed below each graph, but is for illustration purposes only and cannot be used to compare the cases directly!

Hardware:
Intel Core i5 6600K (Delid - 4,0Ghz @ 1,25V Locked
Noctua NH-L9i / fixed at 60% PWM - 1750RPM
Gigabyte Z270N-WIFI (BIOS F6d)
2x 8GB Kingston HyperX Fury (HX421C14FBK2/16)
KFA2 GeForce GTX 1050 Ti / fixed at 60% PWM - 1100RM
Samsung M.2 SATA SSD
Chieftec CSN-550C 550W SFX-PSU


3DMark FireStrike

  • Custom Run - Version 1.1
  • Only Combined Test
  • Loop enabled
  • Include Demo disabled

Peak Temperature: 54°C CPU Package - 63°C GPU
Ambient: 19,4°C - 20,4°C





Aida64 5.99.4900

  • Stress CPU
  • Stress FPU
  • Stress Cache

Peak Temperature: 66°C CPU Package - 27°C GPU
Ambient: 20,5°C - 20,9°C





Unigene Heaven 4.0

  • Quality: Ultra
  • Tesselation: Extreme
  • Antialiasing: x8
  • Resolution: 1600x900 Fullscreen

Peak Temperature: 50°C CPU Package - 64°C GPU
Ambient: 21,2°C - 21,7°C





Aida 64 + Unigene Heaven

Peak Temperature: 68°C CPU Package - 64°C GPU
Ambient: 20,4°C -20,7°C





Prime95 294b8
  • Small FFTs

Peak Temperature: 84°C CPU Package - 28°C GPU
Ambient: 21,0°C -21,2 °C


The temperatures were - as to be expected with the generously distributed air inlets - very good.
A separated chamber for the graphics card is well reflected in CPU- or GPU-bound tests: The less-used component stays pretty cool.
I came across a point of criticism that I couldn't reproduce here: High EndGPUs with high TDP can cause problems if the case is used vertically with the stand. It covers the ventilation slots in the lower part of the GPU chamber as shown below, so the air is "trapped" and forced into the upper chamber.





Either putting the case horizontal or a new stand, such as this one, can help:



Then the exhaust air from the graphics card can also escape downwards and to the side. Unfortunately I can't do my own tests because I don't have a High-TDP graphics card (problems are reported starting at 180W).


Compatible Hardware
CPU-Cooler
> Alpenföhn Black Ridge / Noctua NH-L9i or L9a / Cryorig C7 Cu

Graphics Card
> pretty much any current graphics card will fit

Case Fans (120mm) - depending on the graphics card
> Noctua NF-A12x15 / Scythe slip Stream slim / Akasa Slimfan


Conclusion
With the Node 202 Fractal Design offers a high quality compact case, which can still hold a full-size graphics card. The layout is well thought out, offers enough space for cables and allows an easy installation of the hardware, which almost resembles a benchtable. All air inlets are provided with dust filters, only the exhaust-slots on the narrow sides (above and below in the vertical position) are not filtered.
With this case FD shows again that quality is a top priority. No sharp edges, perfectly fitting holes and a generally high-quality impression - as I am used to from this manufacturer.
Owners of a Vega or GTX/RTX -80 card should be aware of the problem with the vertical setup if no blower cooler is used.

I still used my SFX power supply for the tests and not the provided Integra SFX 450W in order not to falsify results. Even though I don't have the possibility to test power supplies for ripple and voltage regulation, I put a complete ATX system on it to get at least an impression of the noise. Or not, the power supply was not audible beside the normal fan noises even in the open-air case.
 
Last edited:

Windfall

I'm a huge fan of SFF
SFFn Staff
Nov 14, 2017
2,115
1,575
Very conclusive and detailed report, looks well formatted and thought out, and could be key to potential 202 buyers.
Impressive overall, and If you're doing more of them in the future, I'll keep an eye open!
 
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Ecki

Cable Smoosher
Dec 26, 2018
10
4
Would it be possible to fit a 2,5 Slot Card in there by any chance? Like a Gainward GTX 1060 Phoenix GS? I could provide measurement for that if you need it.
 

Thehack

Spatial Philosopher
Creator
Mar 6, 2016
2,776
3,584
J-hackcompany.com
Would it be possible to fit a 2,5 Slot Card in there by any chance? Like a Gainward GTX 1060 Phoenix GS? I could provide measurement for that if you need it.

It can fit up to 3 slots, provided the bracket is only 2 slot. And I believe there's some tab that interferes with certain pcb and coolers, that makes them a bit harder to install.

It's hard to tell unless you try to build in it.
 
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Crossfire Machines

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Oct 8, 2018
30
47
Would it be possible to fit a 2,5 Slot Card in there by any chance? Like a Gainward GTX 1060 Phoenix GS? I could provide measurement for that if you need it.
It can fit up to 31,0cm x 14x5cm x 4,70cm
Maybe you need to remove the GPU holder
 
Last edited:

Ecki

Cable Smoosher
Dec 26, 2018
10
4
It can fit up to 31,0cm x 14x5cm x 47,0cm
Maybe you need to remove the GPU holder
Do you mean 31,0cm x 14,5 cm x 4,7cm? (lenght x height x thickness)

if thats the case it will either not be possible, in need of a mod, extremely tight or i have to think about something else as a case. Card is 24,8cm x 12,3 cm x 5,5cm and has a 2 Slot bracket. But thanks to @Crossfire Machines and @Thehack for your replies
 

Karbof0s

What's an ITX?
Mar 27, 2019
1
0
Hello! Can I ask a question about the power supply? I have the same.

After starting the PC, the fan starts and stalls. Approximately 2 minutes after the start, the fan starts to turn on to the full speed of the revolutions and immediately stop. This happens cyclically. One start-stop cycle is approximately 4 seconds.

Did you have this fan behavior? Do you think this is normal behavior? What, in your opinion, can this be caused?

My build: AsRock B450, R3 1200 (waiting for zen2), MCI 1070 Aero

Link for video: