Summary: Final Thoughts
The Node 304 is coming into a very popular market right now and after taking a look at it I can tell it is going to be a top choice of consumers. It has a very elegant design, it is something that you can sit on your desk and it is not going to look out of place. The really compact size means that you can fit it pretty much anywhere, and that it is going to be easy to take with you to LAN parties.
When it comes to installation it really is a breeze.
Pros: Great build quality, Support for up to 6 hard drives, Supports normal ATX power supplies, 3 fans included with fan controller, Elegant design, USB 3.0 support
Cons: Motherboard standoffs are quite hard to install correctly, Modular power supplies will not work with longer graphics cards, No 5.25inch drive bays
Conclusion: Looking at the outside of the Node 304 first we have a case which is built to Fractal Design's usual high standards. The brushed metal front panel which is almost blank looks great and should blend into home theatre environments with ease... or look great sitting on a desk. The main chassis is also nice and sturdy and we noted no quality issues with the soldering or assembly.
Conclusion: Where the Fractal Node 304 lacks in terms of cable management or other niceties, it makes up for by just getting out of the way—both internally and in external style. It’s also very solidly built and shows no sign of flex or bend anywhere in the structure. Having been away from the PC market for a long while, I’m used to cruddy things stamped out of sheet metal with sharp edges and twisty angles that assured you’d shed some blood at some point during assembly.
Summary: The Fractal Design Node 304 Case is tiny, doesn't have a 5.25" drive, but up to six 2.5" or 3.5" drives can be installed. This is a simple, elegant SFF case that would be perfect for a server or if you require a compact mini-ITX/DTX solution with lots of storage.
Summary: The Fractal Design Node 304 obviously caters a very specific audience. The guys and gals that need something small and sexy for that functions as a simple net-top, HTPC or the coolest looking NAS/file server ever. Fact remains that if you can find a Mini ITX motherboard with a fast enough processor then really there's nothing holding you back to create a more powerful beast thanks to the fact you can insert a dual-slot graphics card even.
Summary: The Fractal Design Node 304 does not only look good on the outside, but it also makes great use of its space within. It is clearly the evolution of the Array case: it still offers the ability to install loads of hard drives while also giving the user the ability to go for a big, high-performance GPU. This means that the Node 304 can house a great gaming system, especially as you may also install a fairly large CPU cooler.
Pros: Great use of space for such a small chassis, Excellent build quality, Three fans are included, Fan controller switch for all three fans, Space for up to six hard drives, Full ATX PSU will fit - just watch the length, USB 3.0 Cable comes with additional USB 2.0 header, Plenty of possibilities to tie down cables on the floor of the case, Dust filters on all intake areas, Quiet on low fan setting, Can fit fairly large CPU cooler, Can easily fit a large graphics card, Coo...
Cons: A tad more expensive than other mini-ITX cases out there, No reset button, Modular PSUs won't work in combination with a long GPU, Watch the length of the PSU, especially if you want to install a long GPU, No external drive bay
Summary: I haven’t had the luxury of reviewing many smaller cases. The last one I had my hands on had barely enough room to fit anything into it. The only advantage to that was the entire system was very small. The drawback was that there weren’t any cooling options, so the system was very hot. I really liked the Node 304.
Fractal Design thought of nearly everything when making this case. Upon initially looking at the case, I thought of a few things that might be missing.
Summary: The Fractal Design Node 304 is an excellent choice for the user who is building a small form factor (SFF) computer and wants a product with a stylish design, support for regular-sized power supplies, and great features.
Conclusion: With very few manufacturers catering for Mini-ITX it’s good to see another brand taking on this form factor. Is Fractal Design’s first attempt a good one? Removing Node 304 out of its packaging it’s immediately apparent which brand this case belongs to. Fractal Design is stamped all over this case with its sleek, minimalist styling and non-descript characteristics.
Pros: + Great build quality, + Compact, + Good, quiet cooling, + Fan controller, + Good clearance for CPU coolers