In and Around the Fractal Design Core 1000

Black monoliths are fast becoming the "beige boxes" of the 21st century, but at least black goes with everything—ask the 1970's just how much beige goes with. Fractal Design has maintained a very specific, very minimalistic style with their enclosures that has by and large served them well, and that style remains in full force even with a case this small and inexpensive.

The front of the Core 1000 is an almost totally uniform mesh, broken only where the 5.25" drive bay shields are. The I/O ports, power button, and reset button are all on the right side of the front of the case. It's a fairly unique placement for them, but "unique" doesn't always translate to "good," and by placing them there Fractal Design has substantially reduced the overall utility of the case. I get the impression the Core 1000 was meant to be placed on a desk to the left of the user, but as someone who doesn't want to hear his computer running I've never liked the idea of having a tower on my desk, even a small one like this. If you regularly use front/top mounted I/O ports, their placement on the Core 1000 will likely be very inconvenient.

As both a minimalistic Fractal Design case and a budget entrant in general, the sides of the Core 1000 are spare. There's nowhere to mount a fan on the bottom of the enclosure, no openings on the top or the right side, and a single 120mm fan mount on the left side panel. The back is even pretty plain, though it's there where you really understand just how small the Core 1000 is: there simply isn't enough space for an exhaust fan bigger than 92mm. They don't make any allowances for routing watercooling tubing out of the back of the enclosure, but I take a bit of absurd pleasure in that: if you're planning to build a sophisticated watercooling loop, why would you buy the cheapest case you can find?

The side panels are affixed using thumbscrews, and once they come off it becomes painfully easy to see where Fractal Design made many of their sacrifices to reach that $40 price point. There are no allowances made for cable management, no space behind the motherboard tray, no cutout in the tray for aftermarket cooling, and the drive "cage" is just a single tray that's kept in place by three thumbscrews.

All told, build quality is actually decent for a case this inexpensive, but it's a situation where I'm concerned that Fractal Design may have put some of their eggs in the wrong baskets. Fair enough, something this small is going to have space at a premium, so I can't complain too much about the lack of cable management or the awkward-looking drive cage. I still would've appreciated a cutout in the motherboard tray for aftermarket cooling, though. Even if the clearance in the case is low, there are still excellent and inexpensive aftermarket solutions that would be ideal for a case with this kind of thermal design, and you can't argue that Intel's stock cooling mounting solution is a dog.

Introducing the Fractal Design Core 1000 Assembling the Fractal Design Core 1000
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  • Meaker10 - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Also once you reach much higher end (gaming wise) you will probably have a large single drive + SSDs or even just SSDs that take a single slot and sit them in an optical bay. Reply
  • Spivonious - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Agreed with all but the hard drive comment.

    Unless you're shooting for overclocking records, the stock cooler that comes with Intel's chips is more than enough, is quiet, and is very short.

    Most people building a mATX PC are going to use the onboard graphics, or at most a $100-level video card.

    Hard drives are always welcome though. Most start with one or two and then add as they need more space instead of replacing older drives with newer larger ones. Personally, I have 5 drives in my C2D build that I've acquired over the past six years. I appreciate a case that makes room for them.
    Reply
  • dave1_nyc - Sunday, April 15, 2012 - link

    I wanted to start this with "Do you really find the Intel stock cooler quiet?", but obviously you do or wouldn't have said so, and 'quiet' is in the ear of the beholder. And to be fair, it's free and given how little fin space it has, it works well. But.. maybe I'm just sensitive to the pitch or timbre of the sound, but I hate it.

    I recently built a file server and decided to go all the way down to an Intel G530. (And tangentially, I've been amazed at how capable it is; far more so than I had expected.)

    But I lived with the stock cooler only for about 2 days, and then replaced it with an $18-with-rebate CM Hyper 212 Plus. I know it seems silly to use a cooler that's almost half the cost of the CPU, but it's great: the CM is so understressed that the fan turns about 700 rpm most of the time and I can't hear it at all. Very nice.
    Reply
  • Belard - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Yep... Empty Optical bays are made for storing cables and such. :)

    This case is no worse than the typical Dell / HP / Acer budget systems which are quite small, designed to hold 2 optical drives and 2 3.5" drives, nothing more.
    Reply
  • zero2dash - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    It's arguably the nicest most feature rich case in that price range that is a small tower. Obviously you could get a BitFenix Outlaw or a Three Hundred for a little more but those are midtowers, not SFF towers.

    How many hard drives are people really filling up their PC's with that aren't servers?
    I have 2 drives in my Define R3, 1 drive in a Three Hundred, and 1 drive in a CM Elite 341.
    I really don't get the whole "8 3.5" HD bays" mentality that people have these days. If you're running a server (and it's not a rack), you're probably buying a large midtower or a full tower.

    No one with 8 HD's is going to put together a SFF, at least not without being sorely mistaken as to what they can and can't do.

    Also on the thermal performance....I'm assuming that all case reviews are done with stock cooling only and compared that way? I know it's somewhat of a given here but I would expect that if you added the side fan that the spot is there for, the internal thermals would be better on this case. Then again, those thermals would also be better with more fans added to the 1100 as well though, so the point is somewhat moot (but worth mentioning anyway).
    Reply
  • Casper42 - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    I disagree with your statement about the drives. There is a middle ground and I'm right smack in the middle of it.

    I have a mATX Case and board but I have 5 SATA devices in use.
    1 Optical 5.25
    1 SSD 2.5
    3 HDD 3.5

    So while I don't need 8 drive bays, 4 would have certainly been great.

    On the flip side, I still dont see why cases need to have more than 2 5.25 bays and in mATX why would you need more than 1?
    Reply
  • Pappnaas - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    http://www.aerocool.com.tw/index.php/products/27-p...

    Has a spot for a 120 Fan in the back, but no front USB 3.0. Might not be available in the us, didn't check.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    This has front USB 3.0 ports and looks like a nice case:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    I prefer the Antec 300 cases myself - have 3 of tmem at my house.
    Reply
  • zero2dash - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Almost identical to the CM Elite 341 I have.
    Nice thing about the 341 is the front CM badge is removable. :)
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    From the review: "There's nowhere to mount a fan on the bottom of the enclosure, no openings on the top or the right side, and a single 120mm fan mount on the left side panel."

    No to be too critical, but Dustin writes this as if it were a bad thing! I'd be happier if they included a cover for the side vent, too. It would cut down on the noise and probably contribute to better front-to-back airflow. I think you have to evaluate "features" like a foolish number of vent openings based on the intended usage of the case. This happens to be a small, very inexpensive case that is clearly meant for modest builds. Just my 2 cents.
    Reply

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