Gaming consoles may not be as versatile as PCs, but one of their greatest advantages is their size and design. PCs on the other hand may be versatile and powerful multimedia and gaming machines, yet their insertion into elegant living rooms can be problematic. Large systems and tower cases are a major visual dissonance in a living room, whereas consoles were designed with that specific purpose in mind.

Motherboard manufacturers have been trying to combat this issue by creating highly advanced and fully featured Mini ITX motherboards specifically designed to be the heart of powerful gaming systems. Recent energy efficient CPUs also reduced their cooling requirements, allowing the use of smaller and quieter coolers. Still, most of the ITX cases that became available were not nearly as small as a console, as manufacturers had to compensate for the width of expansion cards and the size of optical drives. However with their newest Mini-ITX design, the Node 202, Fractal Design is looking to change this, producing a bare-minimum sized case specifically designed for building a gaming PC.

Introduction

Fractal Design is a well-known Swedish designer of PC cases. Most of their ITX designs are not an exception to the aforementioned rule, sacrificing volume for component compatibility and performance. However the company wanted us to take a look at their smallest ITX case, the Node 202. It is a slim case that physically resembles many other designs that were created for HTPC use, but, despite its very narrow chassis, the Node 202 can hold a full size video card, allowing the creation of very small but powerful gaming systems.

Fractal Design Node 202
Motherboard Size Mini ITX
Drive Bays External -
Internal 2 × 2.5"
Cooling Front -
Rear -
Top -
HDD -
Bottom 2 × 120 mm (optional)
Radiator Support Front -
Rear -
Top -
Side -
Bottom -
I/O Port 2× USB 3.0, 0× USB 2.0, 1× Headphone, 1× Mic
Power Supply Size SFX
Clearances HSF 56 mm
PSU 130 mm
GPU 310 mm
Dimensions 82 mm × 377 mm × 330 mm
3.23 in × 14.84 in × 12.99 in
Prominent 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 liters
· 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
Price $86

Packaging & Bundle

Fractal Design supplies the Node 202 into a simple, sturdy cardboard box. The monochromic artwork is based on schematics of the case itself, with some details on its features and specifications printed on the sides of the box. Inside the box, the case is well protected between two thick Styrofoam pieces and wrapped inside a nylon bag.

Black mounting hardware and a few cable ties are the core of every case’s bundle nowadays. Fractal design also supplies four rubber feet for the case and a PCI Express riser card. The manual is very detailed and well written. 

The Exterior of the Fractal Design Node 202
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  • bill.rookard - Monday, June 6, 2016 - link

    Agreed. I'd like to see a no-compromises SFF that uses a mATX board. Reply
  • lmcd - Monday, June 6, 2016 - link

    Silverstone SG09 and SG10 are as close as you'll get I'd imagine. I have the SG09 and toted it from university and back for most of two years (before finally getting tired of it and ordering a Skull Canyon box). Reply
  • Tikcus9666 - Monday, June 6, 2016 - link

    It is possible for HTPC use, an external optical drive could be added (not as neat as an internal) and there are plenty of 7200 rpm 2.5" HDD available, and SSHD drives, not to mention NAS Reply
  • edzieba - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    A gTX 295?! No wonder the thing was cooking itself: compact cases - particularly ones without auxiliary ventilation fans - benefit greatly from rear-exhaust coolers, rather than ones that exhaust into the case itself. Reply
  • Xajel - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    I wonder when will these companies build a home-theatre + home-server case in the same time... the smallest size which can fit 4~5 3.5" HDD's (maybe 4x 3.5" + hybrid 3.5" which can also fit 2x 2.5"), SFX PSU, miniITX, and a mid to entry-high end gpu... with a good looking design and good front panel connectivity ( including IR receiver ) Reply
  • AbRASiON - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    You can do so much more with the ITX form factor than this. I'm sure this appeals to some but I'd rather just see a smaller, neater, nicer, but still mildly roomy, Node 304. Think SUGO08 sized but with more features or something. Reply
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    I don't think you realize that the Node 304 is a pretty large ITX case, so when you say "smaller ... Node 304", you're actually mistaken.

    Node 304 volume: 19.5 Liters
    Node 202 volume: 10.2 Liters

    It's literally almost twice as large as the Node 202 in volume.

    The Node 304 is neater, due to the additional space for cable management, very roomy as far as ITX cases go, and nicer due to the aluminum front panel.
    Reply
  • AbRASiON - Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - link

    Sorry my post was poorly written. The Node 304 is obviously a larger case but it's a very very nice case which looks better and can fit more, yet it's stylish and relatively quiet.
    My SUGO08 however is smaller than the Node 304 and also vastly superior to this ugly and impractical looking Node 202. I have a 'normal' power supply, massive CPU cooler (considering case size) can take a full size GPU and 3 SSDs or 1xSSD and 2x3.5" HDD
    AND it's quiet
    Reply
  • Haravikk - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    The height of this case is a bit disappointing; it doesn't seem like there would be much to lose by making it a little taller and thus able to accommodate more of the low-profile coolers, in fact, most of the good ones require 60-70mm so this seems like too much of a sacrifice. Placing this horizontally is never going to be a great option due to how easily you'll restrict airflow, so it makes a lot more sense to just put it vertically, in which case it doesn't matter much if it's a centimetre or two "taller" (wider in that orientation).

    Having to disassemble the case to remove the dust filters is likewise poor design; I can't imagine it would have take much to have them accessible via a slot and just pull them out, clean and slide back in.

    So I dunno, aesthetically it looks nice, and I like that the GPU is properly partitioned from the motherboard area, but I can't help but feel like the attention to detail on this is otherwise poor.
    Reply
  • Scootiep7 - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    The lack of a spot for a slim drive simply kills 3/4's of miniITX cases. Like it or not, BluRay & even DVD's are still a large part of your average user's media library and most simply don't have the budget for dedicated NAS with the capacity for everything. Streaming services rarely have all of your favorite movies right when you want them. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Googles offerings on Youtube being poster child examples of a lackluster movie selection. Quite simply, if you want to beat the console market in the living room, find the friggan space for a slim optical drive. End rant. Reply

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