Fractal Design NODE 202 Review

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If you think about it, gaming consoles aren’t as versatile as PCs. However, these devices still have certain advantages like their design, build, and size. Now when it comes to PCs, these are technically powerful & versatile multimedia gaming machines. But once you add them into a themed or elegantly-designed living room, these can become an issue, especially when you’re concerned with aesthetics.

Tower cases and massive systems can pose as an eyesore in most living rooms, whereas consoles have designs with a specific purpose in mind. A lot of motherboard manufacturers are finding ways to prevent this problem by producing highly-advanced, as well as fully-featured Mini ITX boards designed to be the heart and core of powerful gaming systems.

Current energy-efficient computers also decreased their cooling requirements, allowing the utilization of more quiet and smaller coolers. Still, a lot of ITX cases that appeared were not as small and compact as consoles because manufacturers needed to offset for the width of expansion cards, as well as the size of optical drives.

Current energy-efficient computers also decrease their cooling needs, allowing the utilization of more quiet and smaller coolers. The thing is, most available ITX cases were not as small and compact as consoles. So, manufacturers needed to offset the expansion card’s width, as well as the size of optical drives.

When it comes to Fractal Design, their latest NODE 202 with the Mini ITX design is looking to change this. The company is a famous Swedish designer of computer cases. Though most of their ITX-designed cases aren’t an exception, they’ve come up with a way to create a barely minimum-sized case designed for building your gaming PC.

Fractal Design and their NODE 202 is a slim case that physically appears like a lot of other HTPC cases. However, it comes with a narrow chassis that can hold a full-sized video card, allowing you to create small but efficient gaming systems.

Now, does the Fractal Design NODE 202 sound like something that you’d need to build your gaming system? If that’s the case, then we’ll provide you with all the information you’d need to know more about the product. Plus, we will also share details about its features, functions, specifications, and if it performs like how it’s supposed to.

First up, let’s see what’s inside the box.

Fractal Design NODE 202 Review – What’s in the Box?

When we received our Fractal Design NODE 202, it came in a sturdy yet robust brown cardboard package. The box features an image of the Fractal Design NODE 202 itself, and you can find this in front of the package. At the back, you’ll see more information such as the unit’s features and the like. Both sides of the box feature additional images of the NODE 202, as well as a list of the product’s specifications.

Inside, you will find two Styrofoam spacers that hold the whole unit in place. These also help protect the Fractal Design NODE 202 from unwanted damages during shipping. Other than the spacers, the case also comes with a plastic bag to prevent it from acquiring fingerprints and scratches. It’s nice that the company included a nylon bag for added protection, and this only shows how much they ensure that all products arrive safely to their customers.

Aside from the Fractal Design NODE 202, you will find other items in the box. These include a few promotional materials, a manual, a warranty leaflet, a little accessory box, and a slot-in vertical amount.

The little accessory box comes with a bundle of cable ties, fitting screws, and a couple of stick-on rubber feet. Though one of the most vital components included in the box is the adapter for the PCIe slot which lets the GPU lay parallel to the motherboard. It allows for a slimmer and more compact chassis design.

For the slot-in vertical mount, it provides you with another excellent way to display your system. It’s a sturdy piece that comes with four durable rubber grip feet to prevent it from sliding while in use.

The Product

Fractal Design NODE 202 Review

The Fractal Design NODE 202 is something that we can consider as the ultimate PC case. It’s mainly for those searching for nicely-designed and compact chassis that can readily house a gaming build.

This product from Fractal Design is a unit that they produced with full detail and the right build in mind. It went through an intensive design phase where every spec and line goes in perfect harmony with each other.

With both vertical and horizontal orientation possibilities, you can set the Fractal Design NODE 202 anywhere in your home. It is all thanks to the sleek design, which makes it extremely attractive next to your entertainment gear and television in the living room. Or, you can also place this on your desk in the office too.

The company has kept its NODE 202’s design a bit different compared to what we usually see from the NODE series. Fractal Design’s 804 and 304 models come with a slightly arched front, as well as a brushed surface, whereas the 202 is smoother with a flat surface.

Its front part does not come with an external drive bay since Fractal Design wanted to keep the chassis as compact as possible. With that, we can consider this as an excellent enclosure for stream boxes. For its arrangement, it becomes evident along the rear since two horizontal expansion slots are present to the right of the motherboard’s area. As such, its riser card redirect the PCIe lanes at a right angle to the motherboard.

One side of the Fractal Design NODE 202’s chassis comes with a reasonably massive air vent. For its opposite side, it is a bit solid and has a short strip that is necessary for ventilation. Fractal Design installed a bigger vent into its top panel to make it easier for you if you want to position the chassis vertically.

Taking a closer look at its front, you will see two USB 3.0 ports. Aside from this, you will also find the usual audio plugs along the left half, and the power button too. The right portion is entirely sturdy and features the company’s logo. If you notice, there’s a spot for a Mini ITX board along the rear which is something common. Also, there are two expansion slots guarded by two individual white covers – something that we’ve already expected from Fractal Design. Plus, the rerouted power connector from the front-left portion is in this area.

You will see an opening along the top portion of the chassis. Specifically, it is directly above the CPU spot that allows for adequate air to enter this enclosure. If you turn the Fractal Design NODE 202 over, you will find two more similar openings. The larger ones are along the area where the graphics card will be, while the smaller one is for the PSU.

To access the interior of the Fractal Design NODE 202, you will have to remove four screws on the underside of the chassis. The internal layout of the NODE 202 separates the hot components to allow for free-flow air to keep them cooled even without additional case fans.

When it comes to the GPU and CPU areas, dust filters keep these protected, so you don’t have to worry about grime and dirt from entering your chassis. Additionally, having a dust-resistant interior prolongs your system’s life as it prevents damage from occurring. The color of the chassis’ interior is entirely black to match its exterior. Its GPU area can hold two 120-millimeter fans to help keep the components at a suitable temperature.

Supposedly, the designated area for the motherboard is for holding a mini-ITX board. It sits right next to the area where you place the SFX power supply unit. We have the version that doesn’t come with a pre-installed power supply unit. On top of the central driver, you will find a small bracket for up to two 2.5-inch drives.

There is a black PCB to enable the buttons, LEDs, and front I/O. Also, there are black cables along with standard connectors which allow for an easier installation of a modern ITX board.

Product Features

Sleek, Attractive and Versatile Design

The NODE 202 features a stylish and attractive design that looks great on your desk or next to a TV. It’s a highly versatile case that you can set up horizontally or vertically.

Free-Flow Air for Cooling

For the case to run cool at all times, the hot components are in proximity of free-flow air since its internal layout keeps these separated.

Small Form Factor for Small Components

The Fractal Design NODE 202 supports, miniature ITX motherboards, SFX graphics cards, and power supplies with a length of up to 310 millimeters. Its small footprint has a volume of only 10.2 liters.

Dust-Free Interior

The interior of the Fractal Design NODE 202 will be free from dust since strategically placed air filters are present. With a dust-free interior, you can prevent your system from acquiring damages.

Thermal Design

The smart thermal interior in Fractal Design NODE 202 highlights the separate chambers for the graphics card and the motherboard.

Specifications

The Fractal Design NODE 202 comes with two 2.5-inch SSD unit positions with a height limitation of 10.5-millimeters. It comes with two expansion slots and two USB 3.0, an audio in/out, and a power button with white LEDs for its front ports. There are a total of two 120-millimeter fan mounts found in the graphics card chamber, plus three dust filters for the CPU, PSU, and GPU.

For its PSU compatibility, it makes use of the FX PSUs that are up to 130 millimeters long.

When it comes to its compatibility, the Fractal Design NODE 202 uses an SFX power supply type that is up to 130 millimeters long. For its motherboard compatibility, the Mini ITX. Its GPU’s maximum dimensions measure 310 x 145 x 47 millimeters (L x H x D). The CPU cooler’s maximum height is 56 millimeters.

Horizontally, the case is 377 x 82 x 330 millimeters but becomes 377 x 88 x 332 millimeters with its feet/ screws (W x H x D). Vertically with its feet, the Fractal Design NODE 202 is 125 x 385 x 332 millimeters (W x H x D).

The Fractal Design NODE 202 has a volume of 10.2 liters, a net weight of 3.5 kilograms, and a package weight of 4.0 kilograms. For the package dimensions, it is 145 x 463 x 388 millimeters (W x H x D).

Using the Product

Now, let’s proceed to the setup process. To add a mainboard to the Fractal Design NODE 202, you will have to do this manually with spacers and screws. These are quite tight, so we suggest that you plan out your cabling routes to achieve a neat and organized look.

The cable routes include all the cabling to the I/O plugs and the power leads for the graphics card. You can install CPU coolers with a height of up to 56 millimeters.

Before you add the CPU, you need to place the PCIe riser card inside by removing the metal GPU bracket from the system. From there, attach the two parts of the riser to it. Once it’s in place, you can place the GPU onto the metal bracket before adding the entire component into the system. Another option is to install the GPU when the assembled bracket is in place to avoid disassembling everything when you plan to upgrade your system.

When it comes to installing an SSD, you have to remove a single screw that holds the bracket that can hold two 2.5-inch drives, then reinstall this once you place your SSD. Just make sure that the drives are facing the right direction.

When we tried using the Fractal Design NODE 202, we couldn’t help but notice how compact and sleek this chassis is. It can hold potent hardware, which means that you can build gaming rigs in this thing.

This NODE 202 is also considerably well-constructed, and we have to say that Fractal Design did a great job with the chassis. It gave us a clean piece that can aesthetically blend in the living while it also brought us a more edgy design element. It is one perfect chassis for anyone who plans to build a stable and aesthetic gaming rig based on their preferences.

For an HTPC case, the Fractal Design NODE 202 has the perfect appearance. And with its minimal details such as the clean front panel and black USB 3.0 ports, it helps complete the chassis’ overall design.

Though when it comes to cable routing, it can get a little tricky on its interior. But once we got it installed, it was all good, and we don’t think anyone would open the NODE 202 up often anyway. To give you an idea, the air vents’ placement, this won’t allow you to see inside the case from the front.

The size of the Fractal Design NODE 202 is easy to work with, and when we tried cleaning the filters, it was quick, easy, and nothing in the lines of being tedious. You might think that removing both panels would be time-consuming, but it isn’t which made cleaning a breeze. In terms of quality, the Fractal Design NODE 202 did not disappoint since the chassis was strong and durable. It only shows that Fractal Design made use of high-quality materials for this product.

Overall, the Fractal Design NODE 202 is a perfect chassis that works for its intended purpose. Its space is a little bit tight, but otherwise, you don’t need to worry about purchasing the newest generation of top-notch cards for the Fractal Design NODE 202. It’s a case that can accommodate an efficient gaming PC that will surely satisfy a lot of people who want to get into casual gaming in the living room. With that, we’re giving the NODE 202 two thumbs-up, and we’d highly recommend this as well.

Conclusion

Recently, the SFX market has been booming since a lot of system builders are finding ways to fit powerful systems in a chassis with smaller and more compact designs. With that, Fractal Design created the NODE 202, which is a well-constructed chassis that is incredibly sleek and compact.

While it’s slightly wide and deep compared to a PS4 or XBOX One, it’s still compact enough to slot into your AV setup. So, it is like other set-top box-type units. Even if it has a low sitting design, it makes use of a graphics riser adaptor, which means that it won’t compromise gaming performance. With that, enjoying today’s high-end air-cooled graphics cards is easy.

It’s the perfect SFX chassis for building your gaming system since you can use high-performance components. It has an attractive design and has all the features; plus, all of these come at an affordable price. If you’re planning to build your gaming system using an SFX chassis, we highly recommend the Fractal Design NODE 202.

Where to Buy

If you want to have your own Fractal Design NODE 202, check out the store locator from the company’s official website to see the authorized dealers that offer this product.

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