The Exterior of the Fractal Design Node 202

Physically, the size and design of the Node 202 strongly resembles that of an old school VCR. It is a minimalistic design, made of straight lines and basic geometric shapes. It can be placed both horizontally, using the provided rubber feet, or vertically, using the provided plastic support frame.  Most of the case has been sprayed with a matte black paint that is highly resistant to fingerprints. The lower part of the Node 202 is the one exception to this; it's glossy and highly reflective, and hence will pick up fingerprints.

Measuring 8.2 cm tall, 37.7 cm wide and 33 cm deep (3.25 × 14.85 × 13 in), resulting to a volume of just 10.2 liters, the Node 202 is much smaller than any ITX gaming case that we have previously tested, such as the Cougar QBX (19.9 liters, 95% larger) and the Corsair 250D (28.2 liters, 177% larger).

At first sight, the Node 202 appears to be just another slim HTPC case that forbids the use of full size expansion cards, a design that effectively negates the installation of any high performance video card, making it useless to gamers. That however is not true, as the Node 202 can accommodate a full size video card up to 310 mm long, comfortably over the roughly 280mm average for high-end cards..

The I/O ports can be seen to the left of the simple faceplate. From left to right, we can see two 3.5 mm headphone jacks, two USB 3.0 ports and a rhomboid power button.

The rear of the Node 202 is interesting, as we cannot see a place for the PSU but only a receptacle, hinting that Fractal Design moved the PSU compartment to the front of the case. There are also two white expansion card slot covers. There are no slots for fans and no vents above the motherboard’s I/O panel.

Introduction, Packaging & Bundle The Interior of the Fractal Design Node 202
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  • JoeyJoJo123 - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    Hi ameanie,

    Given your use case of:
    Small as possible
    High End Gaming
    Video/Image Editing
    Video Streaming

    I believe you've chosen 6700k + GTX 1080 well, and they're solid choices for your use-cases. Understandably, now you're having troubles considering how to enclose these two parts, and you want as small of an enclosure possible while still maintaining the performance you need.

    1) Given that you want to do image editing, heavy Photoshop transformations benefit a lot from more RAM. Video editing benefits a lot from RAM, too. This reasonably justifies 16GB of RAM.

    2) Given that you want to do video editing, particularly since uncompressed 1080p video has a high bitrate, this reasonably justifies having a large "scratch drive" SSD, as the high sequential and random read speeds allows you to seek through video and preview it much faster than you could on a normal drive. Also, given that you want to do video editing, you'll also want a fairly large 3.5" HDD to store video files.

    3) Gaming is justification enough to get an unlocked SKU and Z170 series motherboard for overclocking. Overclocking isn't too big of a necessity if you were just going to image/video editing and streaming, though.

    From all this, I gather you'd need something bigger than what the Node 202 can offer. I made the following PC Part Picker list for you to review:

    It's pricey, but keep in mind that you make at least three sacrifices with small form factor builds.
    1) Internal space. (But you get more external space outside of the case, around your desk, and such.)
    2) Cost. (SFF parts cost more than regular sized desktop components.)
    3) Decreased Noise/Thermal performance. (To get adequate thermal performance, you need faster fans; faster fans lead to higher noise; higher noise in a small case with no sound dampening makes for a tiny and relatively noisy PC.)

    Also, keep in mind that
    1) Parametric filters update to the cheapest price to get an item that fits that filter in the list.
    2) It's particularly pricey since many of the components aren't really at good prices at the moment.
    3) Kaby Lake can launch before you save up enough to get your PC parts; Don't commit to buying processor and motherboard until it's the last parts you need, as these may be superceded by a new, better version. The same thing goes for the GTX 1080, in terms of a potential GTX 1080 Ti launch.
  • dartico - Friday, June 10, 2016 - link

    What do you think about an i76700K (no OC) and a reference 1070 or RX480 into this case? I'm planning my next build with those components.
  • bill.rookard - Monday, June 6, 2016 - link

    I would say that if they wanted to, Fractal Design could easily fit (design) a 2 x 3.5" drive cage or 4 x 2.5" cage as an adapter if the end user forgoes a video card - thus this could easily become a small file server / NAS / HTPC.

    I'm rather surprised that they didn't think that through. It would be trivial to add a few rubberized mounts and a single stamped piece of steel.
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    Yeah, this isn't the Node 202's strong point for two reasons.

    1) It wasn't designed that way. And even if they did what you said, then it'd still be worse than getting a 2U server case with hotswap drive bays, and hotswap drive bays are a big convenience when having some kind of fileserver.

    2) They have a PC case that suits that use-case better: Node 304. And the 304 fits 6 drives, if you're not using a graphics card.

    Still, having that option would be NICE, but I'm just saying they probably dismissed it as that wasn't the target audience that this PC case is intended for, thinking that audience would get a different case they offer instead, like the 304.
  • romrunning - Monday, June 6, 2016 - link

    I wish all case makers would just make their filters all externally accessible. When you have to open a case (multiple panels, in some cases) just to clean the filter(s), then you greatly decrease the likelihood of the user actually doing that.

    Just imagine if your HVAC unit at home required you or the service tech to take off a ton of panels just to replace the air filter. This is exactly why HVAC systems have been designed for easy access to the filter; most just slide one out & slide the other one in. While computers may not require the filters like a HVAC system does, they could at least learn from the simplicity of the HVAC filter replacement process.

    My Phanteks Enthoo Pro has 3 filters - one internal mesh screen, one magnetically-attached outside filter, and one slide-out filter on the PSU. Three different styles - why they all can't be mag-attached outside filters, I'll never know.
  • flashbacck - Monday, June 6, 2016 - link

    Silverstone ftz01 or rvz01 are also worth looking at. they are very very similar but do support a 3.5 drive and slot load disc drive.
  • TheGovernator - Monday, June 6, 2016 - link

    OMG love the GTX 295! Case looks great, but that GPU tho...

    Jokes aside this looks like a great case. Wonder how it would stack up against Silverstone's offerings, and that new case on kickstarter that Lian Li was going to manufacture, ncase m1 or something like that. I recall that case being around 12 liters, but this is all off the top of my head, so could be wrong.
  • pencea - Monday, June 6, 2016 - link

    All these reviews and articles and yet still no reviews for the GTX 1080 which has been out for nearly two weeks already, while other major sites have already posted their reviews on both the 1070 and 1080.
  • Cygni - Monday, June 6, 2016 - link

    Really like this case and wish more companies would invest in ITX gaming. It's odd still seeing so much focus on ATX motherboards and cases in 2016 when next to no one is actually using any add in cards in the first place, and multi-GPU gaming has been hovering in the single digit usage rate for years.
  • Olaf van der Spek - Monday, June 6, 2016 - link

    I wish they'd design some compact mITX/mATX towers.. 17cm wide, 35cm deep, no 5.25" bays, regular ATX PSU support..
    2x 120mm or 2x 140mm fan support in front.
    It'd avoid compromises those ultra-compact mITX systems have to make.

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