There are many Mini-ITX cases on the market, the Fractal Design Node 304 is just one option. I personally think it is one of the best options; for many reasons. The build quality is hard to beat, as is the minimalist design. Sure the lack of optical drive might turn a few people away from this, however optical drives are starting to disappear; like the old floppy drive did.
The build quality and design isn’t the only reason this case stands out. It offers installing up to 6 hard drives, which can include a mix of 3.5″ and 2.5″ drives. If 6 hard drives is not necessary, one of the hard drive racks can be removed and a long video card, up to 10.5″ can be installed. On the other hand, a small card, up to 6.7″, like the R7 250x or GTX 560 Ti cards will fit with all six hard drives.
There are not many cooling options on the Node 304, however Fractal Design has made sure that the options that are available fit every need. Taking a look at the CPU, a tower cooler will fit nicely, or if desired a small closed loop liquid cooler will fit as well, like the Corsair H75. The provided fans include two 92mm front intake and one 140mm exhaust fan, all of which can be controlled by the integrated fan controller, that adjusts the power to the fan, making them faster or slower. The position of the controller in the back makes it hard to adjust on the fly, however most will probably set it and forget it.
When building a system in the Node 304, a little thought has to be done to install all the components easily. With no access to the CPU cooler bracket, the desired CPU cooler should be installed before installing the motherboard. In a tiny case, installation order should be considered as well, however it’s not difficult to install the components in any order. Cable management on the other hand, could take some time. Most cables are going to be longer than necessary, and with the small space space getting those cables out of the way will take a little thinking.
Mini-ITX cases, like most cases, have a wide range of prices. From a low end price of under $50, all the way up to around $200. The Node 304 is available in both black (FD-CA-NODE-304-BL) and white (FD-CA-NODE-304-WH) both of which are available for $89.99 shipped. This is not a bad price for a good high quality case, with all the features offered on the Node. For this price, Fractal Design provides a 1 year warranty on the Node 304.
Legit Reviews Bottom Line: If you are looking to build a system based around a Mini-ITX or DTX motherboard, the Node 304 has a lot to offer and is a great choice for HTPC, mini file server or even a LAN box.