Fractal Design Node 202 mini-ITX Chassis Review

Introduction


Fractal Design are one of the best chassis manufacturers in the world, having created a stunning range of products over the years, as well as branching out into the world of PSUs, CPU coolers and more. Today they look set to dominate the living room, with the release of their Node 202 mini-ITX chassis. What makes this one so special is that it is designed to house a high-end system, but maintains that slim form factor, allowing you to put it under your TV or on your desk with ease; perfect for a gaming system/steambox or a HTPC configuration.

“The Node 202 is the ultimate PC case for those looking for a beautifully designed, compact chassis that can house a capable gaming build. This small footprint is an intelligently built unit where extreme detail was placed into the design phase to get every line and spec in perfect harmony. With both horizontal and vertical orientation possibilities, the Node 202 can be placed anywhere in the house. The sleek design makes it very attractive next to the TV in the living room or on your desk in the office.”

With a small footprint and a volume of just 10.2 liters, it’s hard to belive that this chassis can house a pair of 2.5″ hard drives, motherboard, CPU cooler, PSU and more impressive of all, a pretty large graphics card.

Specifications

  • Mini ITX motherboard compatibility
  • 2 – 2.5″ SSD unit positions
  • 2 expansion slots
  • 2 – 120mm optional fan positions in graphics card chamber
  • CPU coolers up to 56 mm in height
  • PSU compatibility: SFX PSUs up to 130mm long
  • Graphics card compatibility: Maximum dimension of graphics card is 310x145x47mm (LxHxD)
  • Can be placed both vertical and horizontal position
  • 3 dust filters included (for CPU, GPU and PSU)
  • Case volume: 10.2 litres
  • Colors available: Black
  • Case dimensions – Horizontal (WxHxD): 377 x 82 x 330 mm
  • Case dimensions – Horizontal, with feet/protrusions/screws (WxHxD): 377 x 88 x 332 mm
  • Case dimensions – Vertical, with feet/protrusions/screws (WxHxD): 125 x 385 x 332 mm
  • Net weight: 3.5 kg
  • Package dimensions (WxHxD): 145 x 463 x 388 mm
  • Package weight: 5.2kg

To make the build even easier, the model we have today comes with that rather fantastic Integra SFX 450W 80 Plus Gold power supply pre-installed, meaning that you can get your system up and running a lot quicker, and that 450W delivery is going to be more than enough for even the most demanding CPU/GPU combinations.

“The Integra SFX 450W PSU that comes inclusive with the enclosure provides stable power to the most demanding systems. It comes with customized connectors and tailored cables perfectly fitted for use within the Node 202, contributing to hassle-free installation and cable management.”

  • 80PLUS® Bronze certification
  • 80mm, temperature controlled fan
  • Maximum operating temperature at full load: 50°C (50°C @ 100%)
  • Fully Intel Haswell C6/C7 compliant
  • 3 years warranty
  • Taiwanese capacitors
  • OPP / OVP / UVP / SCP / OCP Protection
  • Can be placed both vertical and horizontal position
  • 100,000 hours life expectancy (MTBF)
  • SFX 3.3 PSU specification compliance
  • ErP 2013 compliant (<0.5W system power draw)
  • Colors available: Black
  • Unit measurements (WxHxD): 125 x 64 x 100 mm
  • Net weight: 1.0 kg

So specs and things aside, let’s move on to the actual hardware. First up, we can see the packaging is fairly simple, with a big sticker on the front letting us know we’ve got the Integra SFX 450W included in the chassis, as well as a handy 3-year warranty.

Around the back, there is a fantastic technical breakdown of each component, showing you exactly which features you’re going to get from this build.

First things out of the box, a simple user guide, warranty booklet and general product information.

You’ll also find a nice little box of accessories.

This includes a bundle of cable ties, all the usual fitting screws, and some stick-on rubber feet.

One of the most important components is this adaptor for the PCI-E slot, allowing the GPU to lay parallel to the motherboard, allowing for a slimmer chassis design.

Finally, there’s a slot-in vertical mount, giving you another great way to display your system.

It’s very sturdy and comes with four rubber grip feet on the base to prevent it from sliding around.

Now onto the best part, the chassis its self! It’s certainly nice and slim, and should blend easily into your AV setup; if that’s where you wanted it at least. There’s a little bit of ventilation down the left side, giving some extra airflow to the graphic card area.

Down the right side, a lot more ventilation, giving air intake to the motherboard and PSU mounting area, with even more ventilation on the top for heat exhaust from any CPU cooler you’re using.

The finish is sublime, a mostly plastic exterior, but with a soft matte finish that gives it a premium look and feel.

Aside from the subtle Fractal Design logo, you’ll also find all the usual ports and controls down here. One little touch that I very much like is the black USB 3.0 ports, as they’re visually less distracting than the usual blue ones, and that can’t be understated for those wanting a clean-looking HTPC build.

Around the back, we’ve got the motherboard I/O cut out, two expansion slots, and the PSU pass through port.

The PSU actually mounts on the front right corner, but an internal cable means you only have to connect the PSU power at the back, where you can easily hide the cables out of sight.

On the base of the chassis, a lot more ventilation. There’s a small vent on the right, allowing airflow to the PSU, as well as a long vent on the left for the PSU air intake.

Energy-Friendly Chip Could Boost Neural Networks

The quest to gain a greater insight into artificial Intelligence has been exciting and has also opened up a range of possibilities that have included “convolutional neural networks”, these are large visual networks of simple information-processing units which are loosely modelled on the anatomy of the human brain.

These networks are typically implemented using the more familiar graphics processing units (GPUs). A mobile GPU might have as many as 200 cores or processing units, this means that it is suited to “simulating a network of distributed processors”. Now, a further development in this area could lead to the potential for a specifically designed chip that has a sole purpose of implementing a neural network.

MIT researchers have presented the aforementioned chip at the “International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco”. The advantages of this chip include the notion that it is 10 times more efficient than an average mobile GPU, this could lead, in theory, to mobile devices being able to run powerful artificial intelligence algorithms locally, rather than relying on the cloud to process data.

The new chip, coined “Eyeriss” could, lead to the expansion of capabilities that includes the Internet of things, or put simply, where everything from a car to a cow, (yes apparently) would have sensors that are able to submit real-time data to networked servers. This would then open up horizons for artificial intelligence algorithms to make those important decisions.

Before I sign off I wanted to further delve into the workings of a neural network, the workings are that it is typically organised into layers, each of these layers contains a processing node. Data is then divided up among these nodes within the bottom layer, each node then manipulates the data it receives before passing it on to nodes within the next layer. This process is then repeated until “the output of the final layer yields the solution to a computational problem.” It is certainly fascinating and opens up a world of interesting avenues with which to explore, when you combine science and tech, the outcome is at the very least educational with the potential for it to be life changing.         .

Reddit User Builds His Own 3D Printed Computer Case

3D printing is an idea that is on the rise in recent times, however, due to the expense of the printers and the materials they consume, the results are often showpieces of detail and finesse instead of functional everyday items. Despite this, Reddit user ‘C0mplx’ set about building a 3D-printed case for his computer, a project he named the “Node”.

The design objective for the Node was to provide a semi-portable and robust case that would be able to be easily transported to LAN parties and other events. The completed Node is actually version 2 of the concept of a 3D-printed case, with the original plan being to construct a full-tower case, which was scrapped after some initial part printings. Considering the final version of the node, I think it’s a good thing.

The process was far from short, with the initial concept being announced on the overclock.net forums back in January, with the first printed parts of the case being shown off in June. The printing process was far from the longest part of the journey either, taking as little as a week to arrive. The best thing about the Node is its modular nature, as a 3D printed item it had to be printed in multiple parts, which are bolted together to form the complete case. This makes an unconstructed node far more compact than a normal case.

If you think you’d like a Node of your own, here is the bad news. For one, it is expensive, very expensive for a computer case. The initial quote for the printing of the Node was $500 for both the time and materials to print the Node, which is made of robust ABS and printed on a Fortus 250 printer worth over $50,000. Additionally, the Node will only be available in limited supply, however, a second revision, aiming to improve the design may be available in the future. Lastly is the fact that some parts of the case are in fact, not 3D printed, such as the acrylic plates, due to their size and difficulty to print.

Could we be close to an age where instead of picking our computer cases from a row of cases sporting features such as side windows and other aesthetic features, we could download and customize blueprints and have our original case printed to our specifications? For now, though, it remains in the realm of case modding enthusiasts. Would you want a Node, and what do you think it could need (as well as a cost reduction) to compete with the rest of the PC case market?

Fractal Design Node 804 Micro-ATX Chassis Review

Introduction


Cube chassis’ have been booming in popularity in recent years. Not only because they make stylish HTPC style cases for your living room, given that they look similar to your common subwoofer, but they also make great cases for the LAN gaming market. I’m sure many of you love using full tower chassis’ for the space they provide. However, there has been a shift to creating compact cases that can still pack some serious hardware and the new Fractal Design Node 804 promises to do just that.

The Node 804 isn’t exactly tiny, but it looks like Fractal Design is trying to balance a relatively compact design, without making any compromises on the kind of hardware you can install. It features a dual compartment design that allows for your motherboard, graphics cards, water cooling and more to be up front. While extra storage, your power supply, cable management and more are tucked out of sight in the back compartment.

Key features

  • Highly effective dual chamber case layout for best possible cooling.
  • Minimalistic design with an elegant brushed aluminum front panel
  • Unique hard drive mounting system, fitting up to 8 x 3.5″, 4 x 2.5” or up to 10 x 3.5”, 2 x 2.5″ drives HDD/SSD
  • Three Fractal Design Silent Series R2 fans included with the case and space for an additional 7 fans.
  • Excellent water cooling support with space for up to 4 radiators simultaneously.
  • All intakes feature removable dust filters providing a dust-free interior.
  • Featuring a window side panel to show off your set up in style.
  • Additional space in the front to mount a slim slot-in ODD, optical bay drive, and 2 x 2.5 drives.
  • Fan controller included.
  • Five expansion slots that allows for multiple GPU setups.

Specifications

  • Micro ATX and Mini ITX motherboard compatibility
  • 8 – 3.5″ HDD positions
  • 2 – 2.5″ dedicated SSD unit positions
  • 2 – Extra positions for either 3,5″ or 2,5″ drives
  • 5 expansion slots
  • 1 additional space in the front for Slot-In ODD
  • 10 – Fan positions (3 x 120mm  Silent Series R2 fans included)
  • Filtered fan slots in front, top and bottom
  • CPU coolers up to 160 mm in height
  • PSU compatibility: ATX PSUs up to 260 mm deep
  • Graphics card compatibility: Graphics cards up to 320mm in length. Graphics cards up to 290 mm in length may be installed if a fan is installed in the lower position in the front.
  • Velcro strap for easy cable management
  • Clear Window side panel included
  • Colors available: Black
  • Case dimensions (WxHxD): 344 x 307 x 389 mm
  • Net weight: 6 kg
  • Package dimensions (WxHxD): 370 x 468 x 412 mm
  • Package weight: 7.7kg

Cooling system

  • Front: 4 – 120mm fans (included is one hydraulic bearing 120mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed)
  • Rear: 1 – 120/140mm fan (included is a hydraulic bearing 120mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed)
  • Rear: 1 – 120mm fan slots (included is 1 hydraulic bearing 120mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed)
  • Top: 4 – 120x140mm fans (not included)
  • Fan controller: 1 – Integrated fan controller for up to 3 fans (included)

Water cooling compatibility

  • Front (right chamber) – 240 mm radiator configurations up to 60 mm thick (with fans) and 278 mm tall are allowed.
  • Front (left chamber) – 240 mm radiator configurations up to 60 mm thick (with fans) and 278 mm tall are allowed. Using a radiator in this position prevents the use of a fan in the top position just next to it.
  • Top (right chamber) – 240/280 mm radiators up to 130mm thick (with fans) may be fitted if the HDD drive bays are taken out or placed elsewhere. No limitation to thickness.
  • Top (left chamber) – 240 mm radiator configurations up to 130 mm thick (with fans) will fit. Radiators in this position limits the height of memory modules to 48 mm tall.

Maximum radiator configuration: 1x240mm,1x280mm and 2x120mm radiators simultaneously.

The packaging is a pretty standard box; you’ll find specifications (as above) and a few diagrams around the sides of the box.

In the box you’ll find a small bracket, some spare rubber mounting washers, a huge pile of screws and fittings, cable ties and a user guide.

The chassis comes with protective film on the exterior and interior of the left side panel; this should help protect it from scratches while in transit.

NASA’s ‘ShadowNet’ Revealed To Be 10x Faster than Google Fiber

Google promised to bring internet speeds 1,000 faster than the current average internet speed found in homes around the US through Google Fiber. The connection, which is around 10 Gigabits per second, might be something seen only in sci-fi movies. However, NASA tends to disagree.

The space agency allegedly uses a shadow internet called ESnet, which is short for Energy Science Network, capable of delivering cross-country speeds of 91 Gigabits per second, deemed the fastest connection ever reported.

However, these speeds will not reach normal home connections anytime soon. NASA is using this shadow network to explore the next wave of computing applications. The U.S. Department of Energy is apparently running ESnet, having it be an important tool for researchers who require large amounts of data handled for projects such as the Large Hadron Collider and Human Genome Project.

The use of such technology leads back to how the Internet was born and eventually became the most important piece of technology used by everyone today. This is why ESnet and Internet2, a non-profit international network built-in 1995 for researchers after the Internet was commercialised, might hold the key of faster internet speeds in the future.

Also, equipment capable of handling high-speed internet, similar to what ESnet currently provides, has been out on the market since 2010. However, the Internet is not a straight line. Each piece of data needs to pass through various nodes before reaching its destination, similar to what a driver has to do when reaching an intersection. As a driver, you are required to slow down and even stop in order to check if you are clear to proceed on your way through the intersection. The same principle applies to data packets through a node.

ESnet is proof that internet speeds which most people only dream of can be achieved. With a lot of effort and probably some luck, similar internet speeds could be available on the commercial market in the future.

Thank you Wired for providing this information
Image courtesy of Wired

Computex: Fractal Design Node 304 White Edition On Display

Fractal Design are the kings of stylish PC chassis design and while they may not be to everyone’s taste in terms of looks, you would have to be crazy to deny that their build quality some of the best in the industry. I personally regard their Define XL R2 as one of the greatest PC chassis ever made and it’s with that in mind that I couldn’t wait to see what new products they have to offer at this years Computex.

The Fractal Design Node 304 is nothing new to us, in fact I personally reviewed it earlier this year and loved its minimalistic front panel and high functionality, making it one of the coolest HTPC chassis around. Only when I reviewed it, it was black and it looks at least 2x cooler in white, but that’s just because I think white PC cases look great, while I admit they’re not for everyone.

The new panels have a really nice finish to them and it looks even more expensive than before.

Another touch of cool from Fractal Design comes in their flyers, which feature AR cards, allowing you to view a 3D model of the chassis after you’ve left the booth.

Stay tuned to eTeknix for more Computex coverage in our Computex section.

Image(s) courtesy of eTeknix at Computex