Fractal Design Node 605 £140
5th Jan 2013 | 09:30
An elegant aluminium brick of a HTPC case
This case is aimed squarely at the HTPC builder. It supports all motherboard formats, from full-sized ATX down to teeny mini-ITX. This is just as well, because if you want to add an optical drive, you can only do so by using a mATX or smaller board.
Measuring 445 x 164 x 349mm, the Node 605's frame is constructed from steel, with a 8mm thick brushed aluminium front bezel. The whole thing is finished in black, with white hard drive mounts, expansion plates and cooling fan blades for contrast.
The power button is the only thing visible on the front bezel, but a flap at the bottom opens to reveals the I/O panel consisting of an integrated flash card reader (Compact Flash, SD and microSD), a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a FireWire port and headphone and mic ports.
At the other end of the panel is the slot for a slim-line optical drive, the mounting kit for which is included in the accessory box.
A screwdriver is needed from the off, because the case doesn't have any tool-free features. The top is held in place by two screws, and lifts away to reveal a layer of sound deadening material on the reverse.
You're then faced with the case cross member/brace, which also holds the two drive cages. Undoing the four screws holding this unit in place and removing it gives you full access to the interior.
To get to the expansion plates, you must undo another screw in the back of the case to open a flip-down cover. You can then access the screws securing the plates. So yeah, screwdriving skills are necessary.
The two drive cages can hold two drives each - either standard 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drives. The 3.5-inch mounts have rubber grommets fitted, which help cut down noise from vibration.
When it comes to power supply and graphics card selection, things get a little complicated. With both hard drive cages in place, the maximum length of power supply is 180mm. With only one cage fitted, this increases to 190mm. Where the PSU sits is a circular ventilation grill, which can be removed to allow more air to circulate around the PSU. This might help the power supply but does nothing for the case aesthetically.
Similarly, there are a number of restrictions to the size of graphics card that can be used, depending on how many drive cages are fitted. With both drive cases in place there's a 180mm length restriction, but the upper length is flexible depending on how many cages are fitted and which mobo slot the card is sitting in.
It might be tricky to set up, but once your machine is built into this elegant, sturdy chassis, you'll never want to change it.