In response to email queries and some of the discussions we have had with gamers at LAN events, we wanted to build a Console-like gaming PC as a concept build.
We love throwing showcase builds together and we try to do something different each time. As it happened, an opportunity came up to partner with Fractal Design and build a pair of systems to display on their behalf. Due to component delivery, we didn't have a lot of time to get the systems together but ADATA, Western Digital, Noctua and Gigabyte made sure we had some high end components. Fractal Design provided their new Node 202 slimline HTPC / Consolesque (if that's a word) case for the build and we got building.
We like the ITX form factor and at the moment, the only legitimate sacrifice is the obvious inability to accommodate multiple graphics cards. This is great news for gamers and we are seeing some very attractive mini ITX cases hitting the market. The Node 202 is one of two new ITX cases from Fractal Design, (the other being the more versatile Core 500), and has a sleek Home Theatre-type look about it. When standing upright, the Node 202 also has a bit of a console feel as well. The slimline design involves a PCIE riser and a flat form factor so we were expecting to have some challenges but with the concept of having high end components in something that small we were like moths to a flame.
This project was about dominating today's games and creating a worthy dual purpose PC with Windows 10 and Steam Big Picture. The exercise isn't about price parity, it's about form factor parity and higher resolution gaming.
With components acquired, the main challenge now was to build it and see how far we could push performance in a small form factor.
Let's meet the chassis - Introducing the Node 202 from Fractal Design
This is the smallest case we've seen from the team at Fractal Design with a volume of 10.1 litres. It's built for the ITX form factor and all components need to be compact except the graphics card (thankfully). There are two 2.5" HDD/SSD mounts, a space for an SFX PSU or you can get one with the PSU included (like we did) and there is also a limitation on the height of the CPU fan in that it can't be any taller than 56mm.
The Node 202 is advertised with the following key features:
- Featuring a sleek and elegant design that will fit in any space or room
- Extremely small footprint with a volume of only 10.2 litres
- A highly versatile case that can be set up both vertically and horizontally
- Supports Mini-ITX motherboards, SFX power supplies and graphics cards up to 310mm in length
- Provides a smart thermal interior design highlighting separate motherboard and graphics card chambers
- Strategically placed air filters for a dust free interior
- Includes a Fractal Design Integra SFX 450W power supply with specialized cables for the Node 202 case, providing the right connectors with precise cable lengths
- Case dimensions - Horizontal (WxHxD): 377 x 82 x 330 mm
- Case dimensions - Horizontal, with feet/protrusions/screws (WxHxD): 377 x 88 x 332 mm
- Case dimensions - Vertical, with feet/protrusions/screws (WxHxD): 125 x 385 x 332 mm
With Fractal Design promising the above, we wanted to test out the thermal performance as well as the CPU and GPU size constraints.