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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  • JoeyJoJo123 - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    External USB Bluray drive? Reply
  • Scootiep7 - Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - link

    If you're adding peripherals all you're doing is defeating the purpose of a small, elegant, stand alone box which is what an HTPC should be. One of the main function is to be completely self contained and maintain a look as though it belongs with other media centric items such as an amplifier, AV receiver, etc. Reply
  • AbRASiON - Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - link

    Silverstone SUGO08 - beautiful piece of kit, love mine, very nice looking in the HTPC arena too. I'd say it would classify as "wife proof" Reply
  • Scootiep7 - Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - link

    Definitely a nice and very functional case. But I've never been fond of the "box" style. They don't fit well with some of my other slim AV equipment. Reply
  • Scootiep7 - Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - link

    Oddly enough, I ended up going with an In Win BP671 mini ITX case back in 2012. Took the PSU out and installed a PICO PSU in an enclosure I made from the supplied PSU. Only fan running in the entire case is the PSU heatsink so for all intents and purposes it's silent. Works wonderfully for my kids games and plays all videos (disc or stream) flawlessly. Cheap little thing, but it looks like it belongs with the rest of our AV equipment. Reply
  • YukaKun - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    I actually love the concept, but it's a rough execution still. Too bad is miniITX only. I would have loved some mATX support.

    It needs more front USB ports and there is wasted space next to the GPU. I know there's not much room still, but you can fit some cases and all shifting everything a few millimeters.

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • zunido - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    Can you make a comparison with the silverstone ftz01?
    Good quality mini itx cases that have an understated (non juvenile) look are a rare breed. I would like to see how they stack up.
    My setup: https://de.pcpartpicker.com/b/RLQV3C
    Reply
  • Madpacket - Tuesday, June 7, 2016 - link

    Spend the extra on a Silverstone FTZ-01. It's aluminium and radiates heat better than the cheaper Raven models. Plus the FTZ-01 accomdates 2.5" wide cards with no problems. The fractal is limited to 2 slot cards only. I currently have a 4790K + MSI 390 and Raid Strip dual 480GB drives with an SFX-L power supply. A 256GB M.2 SSD fits underneath the AsRock Z97 board. It's a beautiful, functional and sturdy case and the aluminium really separates it from these cheaper designs. Plus you can jam a small CLC water cooler in it if careful. It also supports a slim drive bluray if that's on your list. All dust filters are external and removable for easy cleaning. I stack mine vertically to save desk space. Reply
  • santiagodraco - Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - link

    This is a perfect HTPC case, not sure why this article would suggest otherwise. I've had a half-height case with an optical drive for a couple of years and have not used the drive a single time. Most HTPCs will (or should!) stream media from a media server or DAS/NAS. I can understand that there may be some wanting to play their DVD/Blu-ray discs but I'd be surprised if they aren't already using a separate player for that. Worst case you can use an external drive.

    The big win for this case is being able to use a full height graphics card... makes me consider switching from my Moncaso to this at some point.
    Reply
  • RodIT - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    Looks like a great case for a Steam box. Reply

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