Testing Methodology

For testing Mini-ITX cases, we use the following standardized testbed in stock and overclocked configurations to get a feel for how well the case handles heat and noise. Again, note that while the Fractal Design Node 605 can technically fit a full-size ATX motherboard, it's not tall enough to allow for our testbed's tower cooler. Because of the discrepancies that would make for in testing, plus the fact that media center cases are often mini-ITX designs, we have chosen to use our mini-ITX testbed rather than going with a specialized (e.g. not something you can compare directly to our other cases) ATX build.

Mini-ITX Test Configuration
CPU Intel Core i3-2120
(65W TDP)
Motherboard Zotac Z68ITX-A-E
Graphics Card Intel HD 2000 IGP

Zotac GeForce GTS 450 Eco (dedicated)

Memory 2x2GB Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer DDR3-1600
Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD
CPU Cooler SilverStone NT07-1156 with Cooler Master ThermalFusion 400
Power Supply SilverStone Strider Plus 750W 80 Plus Silver

Each case is tested with just the Core i3's integrated graphics as well as with a discrete graphics card. The system is powered on and left idle for fifteen minutes, the thermal and acoustic results recorded, and then stressed by running four threads in Prime95 (in-place large FFTs) on the CPU, and OC Scanner (maximum load) is run when the dedicated GPU is installed. At the end of fiteen minutes, thermal and acoustic results are recorded. If the enclosure has a fan controller, these tests are repeated for each setting. Ambient temperature is also measured after the fifteen idle minutes but before the stress test and used to calculate the final reported results.

We try to maintain an ambient testing temperature of between 22C and 24C. Non-thermal test results aren't going to be directly comparable to the finest decimal point, but should be roughly comparable and give a broader idea of how the enclosure performs.

Thank You!

Before moving on, we'd like to thank the following vendors for providing us with the hardware used in our testbed.

Assembling the Fractal Design Node 605 Noise and Thermal Testing, IGP
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  • Blibbax - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    If you for some reason insist on using only two fans, have one at the side (next to the PSU, I suppose) as an intake, and one next to the CPU above the backplate as an exhaust.

    Fractal have done what they have with the fans because they (rightly) assume that users will want to drop in at least one of their own choice of exhaust fan. Ignoring this in an otherwise excellent and well thought out review is a huge shame imo.
  • chrissp - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    I havent seen any reviews for the Origin AE lineup on your site? I have the s14v in black and it is the nicest htpc case on the market imo. it is expensive but its made from a solid block of aluminium so i think its worth it.

    would love to see some reviews for their ranges on here.

    thanks for the great great reviews.

  • Conficio - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    Really, what do you do with ports behind a flap? I might understand it for a card reader and may be a DVD drive? But head phones and mic and USB ports behind a flap? What is the user experience of this? If I use such things, the flap needs to stay open, so making the entire design horrid. I'd understand if the USB ports would be sideways and the flap had side channels to route the cables of an external drive, so I can still close it. But mic and head phone ports need to be outside of the flap!

    For that price, I'd like to see some display included, that can be controlled by software. I'd think that it must be possible to produce a simple display with a USB interface that can show output channel, and volume, etc. just by the virtue of it's driver. Not to mention adding any sort tuner card and being able to see tune information or similar.
  • kenyee - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    with a 2500K, it's not even audible and there's enough space.
    Would have been nice if this case worked well though...having space for 4 drives would have been nice...
  • smitty123 - Tuesday, January 1, 2013 - link

    i don't need flash , just something else than a gray slab.
  • rockoqatsi - Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - link

    I don't need flash either. And I'll deviate from most posters and say that this is one of the best HTPC chassis I've ever seen for the money (if only just from the front.)

    I like that the optical bay and all of the I/O ports are behind a flap. I don't need (visible) ports, a headphone or mic jack, and all sorts of buttons---and certainly not a volume knob---on my HTPC. I have a bloody preamp for that. And as far as VFDs and touchscreens go, they look pretty, but at the end of the day are a distraction. Touchscreens are for remotes anyway. An HTPC should be like Seraph from The Matrix: dark, svelte, mysterious, pretty, and silent.

    So on the outside the Node 605 does just fine for me. It's such a shame the interior was designed by an ape. Why did they put the HDD hangers on the same side as the expansion slots, power supply and optical bay? The cpu side is like Montana and the other is like Tokyo. No f---ing sense for a case this size.
  • perrydoell - Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - link

    After all these years, and no case designer cares to design their case with airflow in mind?

    I mean, all I see is a box with holes all around it. You design your own airflow, depending upon what you put in and where you put the fans. I'm sure a thermal engineer geek (I'm an electrical engineering geek myself :-P ) could design a case that has a single, well defined airflow path that could have far better thermal and accoustic performance than you or I could manage.
  • cjs150 - Thursday, January 3, 2013 - link

    Silverstone TJ08-E springs to mind as clearly designed around proper airflow.

    Personally I wonder why there is a need for these big HTPC cases. To be honest they are nothing more than a standard 1990s case laid on its side. Having built a silent HTPC, mini-itx motherboard was sufficient for me (but I do have a separate NAS for storage), although I accept some audiophiles will want a separate audio card
  • Wwhat - Sunday, January 6, 2013 - link

    It's amazing how involved people get with something that is just a metal box.
    And even more amazing and odd what some companies ask for it. Especially since some devices/tools/vehicles come with large metal housings and those don't seem to significantly influence the cost half the time.

    But on the other hand some basically simple spare parts for cars that are very basic are also sold for outrageous prices if they are hard to source. It truly is a fine example of price and demand and making a business out of things.
  • dj christian - Thursday, January 10, 2013 - link

    "ATX motherboard support on the right side of the case, power supply standing on its side on the left."

    should be

    ATX motherboard support on the left side of the case, power supply standing on its side on the right.

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