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Hardware Fractal Design Node 202 Review

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Combatus, 11 Feb 2016.

  1. Combatus

    Combatus Bit-tech Modding + hardware reviews Staff Super Moderator

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  2. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    Definitely the wrong GPU to use in an SFF case without ducting. 'Blower' cards exhaust their own hot air, and overly-large 'open' coolers have their intake fans close enough to the side panel to avoid most air recycling, but small cards with an offset cooler like that R7 250X are just going to be ingesting their own hot air without either an intake or exhaust duct to keep the flows separate.

    SFF requires some thought in component selection. If you just slap in what you have lying around, you'll have a bad time.
     
  3. Dogbert666

    Dogbert666 *Fewer Staff Administrator

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    Agreed; that's why we have three different SFF case test systems (four if you count the fact that this system is tested both with and without a GPU), based on the type and size of CPU cooler it is designed for.

    This specific test system is designed to test case with very little room for CPU coolers, which often means no room for full size cards, or even no card at all, so we selected a smaller graphics card than our usual one (GTX 980). We do have a low profile test rig featuring a 980 but its CPU cooler was just a bit too big, so we had to drop to our super low profile one. We could introduce another test system (i.e. this cooler plus a 980) and maybe we will if cases like this start becoming more popular, but they're hardly the norm, even for SFF.

    As for the card used, maybe it's not ideal, maybe it's not the one you'd really use, but I'd say it did its job perfectly. The only real difference between this case and the RVZ02 in thermal layout is proximity of the GPU intake fan to the side panel, and this showed that this makes a big difference in the GPU temperature. So even if you used a blower card in this case, it would receive less cool air and be hotter and likely louder as a result, which was mentioned in the review. The card we're using also has a similar cooler shape/size to the R9 Nano and GTX 970 Mini, albeit with a slightly less closed shroud, but not much - those two cards definitely do not exhaust all their hot air out the rear I/O either, so there's validity in its use in SFF systems.

    Finally, if we had used a large open card, these still typically fit the dual slot form factor like this card, meaning its fans in this chassis would have been equally close to the side panel. Testing with a bigger than dual slot card is in no-one's interest. For what it's worth, the fact that our card's cooler is offset is also irrelevant since the side panel ventilation here runs essentially the full length.

    I am happy to debate the merits and drawbacks of our systems - we design them to give you useful information after all. But please don't make it seems as if no thought goes into them. If you make assumptions like that, you'll have a bad time ;)
     
    Last edited: 11 Feb 2016
  4. MadGinga

    MadGinga oooh whats this do?

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    Forgive me if you have/do, but would it be worthwhile to post a list of your test systems and when you'd use them? i.e. SFF Test Setup 1 - i5 XXXX, 8GB, 1337 mobo , gtx980 - for use in testing sff cases with max cooler height of Xcm?
     
  5. Dogbert666

    Dogbert666 *Fewer Staff Administrator

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    We put the test system we use for each case at the top of the results page above the graphs, but there isn't a single page that has them all listed together - is that what you were after?
     
  6. MadGinga

    MadGinga oooh whats this do?

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    Would be good, might also act as a bit of a buyers guide ;)
     
  7. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    Well, no. Because it would be exhausting it;s hot air outside the case, it would be drawing in as much cool air as it's radial fan could want. No case-fans needed, the huge perforated area below it would mean it would not be starved for air. Unlike open coolers, blowers do not require any forced airflow unless there is some restriction in case openings.
    The Node 202 has a barrier between the GPU and motherboard area, so there is little-to-no spillage for hot air from the CPU cooler into the GPU area.
    True, but those cards also need special consideration for use in SFF systems, either though placement close to the case wall with a riser or ducting to seperate intake-exhaust airflow. Just being shorter than a full-length card doesn't automatically confer benefits for SFF: the vast majority of legitimately small (sub-20l) SFF cases support full-length cards (with a handful of exceptions like the OSMI, and a handful of HTPC cases that assume you will be using a HDPLEX or PicoPSU). The bloated 30L-40L ITX cases that many manufacturers put out may not, but those are just a result of poor design.
     
  8. Taua

    Taua Member

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    I like this case, plenty of dust filters and nice internal design.
     
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