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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  • Iketh - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link


  • Casper42 - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    I agree as well.

    I think if this case was like a 1/4 inch wider, they could have gone with a 120mm Exhaust and all but eliminated the need for the side port.

    If they had either dropped to 1 optical bay or made the case a smidge taller, they would have completely avoided the problem with the Optical bay mount contacting the Mobo. The reviewer said to make the case longer, which might help for his mobo, but someone comes out with a mobo thats slightly longer and that plan goes to hell. Make the case a smidge taller and virtually any mATX board will now fit because you are under the 5.25 bay.

    My ideal mATX Case would have 1 5.25" Optical bay, 4 HDD mounts and 2 x 120/140mm intakes on the front.
    Then 120mm exhaust above the IO shield and some perforations above the PCIe slots so any lingering GPU heat can be pushed out due to positive pressure.

    On a normal ATX case, something I don't think most if any case builders have figured out is that you can really easily fit a 92mm fan in 4 empty PCIe slots mounted either inside or outside the case. This helps again with exhausting latent GPU heat.

    I'm a big proponent of traditional front to back cooling.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    I'm not sure it was intended as a negative; Dustin is merely pointing out the various aspects of this small enclosure that you don't get. I'd agree that the lack of bottom/top/right vents isn't a bad thing for the intended market. That's sort of the point: don't get this type of case for a high-end setup. Know the limitations (i.e. it works best with a smaller mATX mobo and modular PSU) and set your expectations accordingly. Reply
  • Spivonious - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Can we get something listed with each case for the size? Obviously a full ATX case is going to cool better than a tiny mATX case. Reply
  • Leyawiin - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Pop in an i3-21XX and a compact card like an HD 7850 and you'd have a decent little system. Both have pretty modest thermal output in relation to their performance. Reply
  • Silenus - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    I recently built a gaming system for a friend with this case. We were trying to keep it as small as possible while squeezing the budget as much as possible. In it are:
    Z68 board, i5-2500k overclocked, 92mm tower cooler, Radeon HD 6850, 2 x 3.5" hard drives.

    All told it works great. It is definitely tight but with some care taken on install and cable management it all works nicely. There is no room for expansion but we knew this going in. For the money and size it's a nice budget option IMO.
  • TrackSmart - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Sounds like a great build, though probably more CPU and GPU than I would have put in this little case - particularly with the overclock! I would have imagined something akin to a Core i3 + 6750/6770 and no overclock (i.e. a true budget system with modest gaming chops).

    Your build should be within the thermal limits, even if a bit hot, based on Dustin's overclocked configuration. If you have some thermal numbers for gaming situations (i.e. CPU/GPU temperatures) I'd love to see them.
  • marc1000 - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    I still dont understand how is it possible to fit 2 drives in there. the drives will go with the cables coming to the BACK of the case, is that it? wouldn't they interfere with the cables for the GPU? Reply
  • Belard - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Or its sister case, TJ08B-E?

    These mini-towers will only hold mATX motherboards (4 slot), and in reality - most people simply don't need 7/8 slot boards anymore. We can do SLI/CF with many mATX boards nowadays. I remember the says of having the HUGE Antec cases that were heavy and required 4 LOUD cooling fans to keep things... cool.

    I've gone as small as i can with my Antec P150, which has a regular ATX board that has never had anything more than a single video card nor a 2nd optical drive.

    I've seen this SS SST-PS07B in a FRYs store, it looks great inside and out... its $95, but doesn't look cheap at all. Includes 2 huge front fans with a easy to remove & clean filter. I'd prefer round power buttons, but oh well. It does have 2 USB 3 ports on the front.

    There is room for cable management in this flipped motherboard layout (Case opens from the right side, mobo upside-down).

    About this review on the Core 1000... it doesn't look good. Spend $5 more and get a much bigger HAF912 or an Antec 300. There are some people who will side mounted ports. I have my P150 inches from my keyboard. I wouldn't mind having the SS replace it (I think) as long as it performs well and can hold 3-4 SSD/HDs.

    Hence noise is important to me. My case is almost silent. There are louder things in my home, my room and outside. Reasons for a case OFF the floor is dirt, easy access to drives/ports, pets - like dogs can mean more hair getting into the vents. Cases on desks don't get kicked. Kids knocking into cases.

    Each their own... as people have different needs. A friend has little needs, but has a HUGE Thermaltake tower from 6+ years ago that is heavy... it'll hold 8 HDs easily. But he wants no computers on his desks... So we'll soon gut it out and stick in an i5-35xx in their soon. :)
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Covered them both.

    Look for TJ08-E and PS07 in our search bar.

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