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Fractal Design Node 304 Case Review - Practical Build and Testing Featured

Test Setup

We used the following components in our Node 304 gaming demon.

  • Intel i5 3570K (overclocked to 4.2 @ ~1.1v)
  • Corsair Vengeance Low Profile Ram 2x4GB (Blue)
  • ASUS P8Z77-i Deluxe Mini-ITX motherboard
  • Corsair CX-600M semi modular PSU
  • Noctua NH-L12 (see review)
  • SanDisk Extreme 120GB SSD
  • Samsung F3 1TB 7200rpm mechanical HDD
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX580 stock cooled graphics card
  • "a lot" of black zip-ties for cable management

In retrospect, we could have used a tower CPU cooler instead to make better use of the case's natural airflow from front to back. In the future, we intend to test two of Noctua's new tower coolers in the Node 304 so stay tuned.

Test Results

We tested the Node 304 in the following different configurations:

  1. With the roof and sides off and case fans on low (Open case)
  2. Fully assembled and the fan controller set to "Low"
  3. Fully assembled and the fan controller set to  "High"
Scenario CPU Settings Case Setup Recorded Temp Delta Temp Noise
Idle

Stock (no OC)

Open Case

30.25

8.7

Quiet

Load

Stock (no OC)

Open Case

55.25

33.7

Quiet

Idle

Stock (no OC)

Closed Case Low Fans

30.25

8.7

Quiet

Load

Stock (no OC)

Closed Case Low Fans

60

38.4

Quiet

Idle

Stock (no OC)

Closed Case High Fans

30.25

8.7

Audible

Load

Stock (no OC)

Closed Case High Fans

56

34.4

Audible

Idle

OC @ 4.2 / 1.1v

Open Case

30

8.6

Quiet

Load

OC @ 4.2 / 1.1v

Open Case

65.5

43.9

Quiet

Idle

OC @ 4.2 / 1.1v

Closed Low Fans

33

10.9

Quiet

Load

OC @ 4.2 / 1.1v

Closed Low Fans

78.5

56.4

Quiet

Idle

OC @ 4.2 / 1.1v

Closed High Fans

33

10.9

Audible

Load

OC @ 4.2 / 1.1v

Closed High Fans

69.25

47.2

Audible

 

We found that the Reference GTX580 graphics card temperatures were consistently the same in all tests - this is most likely due to the large mesh panel that runs along the graphics card slot on the left hand side, providing filtered fresh air to the graphics card cooler.

The CPU temperatures, on the other hand,  were varied depending on the case configuration which was to be expected. The best temperatures were achieved with the roof and sides off, followed by the case fully assembled with the fans on high. Our "worst" load temperatures were less than 5 degrees higher than having an open case but the Node 304 was practically silent with the fan controller set to low speed. This is a fantastic result as far as we are concerned. The CPU cooler was barely audible, the actual case fans couldn't be picked out of the ambient noise - if anything, the stock NVIDIA cooler on the GTX580 was the loudest part of the build in the closed configuration with the fans on low.

We did not experience any buzzing, whistling, vibration, or other noise when using this case over the period of almost a month. With the PC sitting on the desk next to me, if there was an any unwanted noise or vibration I would have heard it. The fans were inaudible at low speed, borderline audible at medium speed and noticable at high speed (we assume 12v) via the integrated fan controller. For the difference we noted in temperatures, we'll take the low fan speed with a 5 degree temperature penalty any day of the week.

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Last modified onMonday, 23 December 2013 00:40

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