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Thread: Fractal Design Node 804 & Kelvin S24 - A Competition Winner's Review

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    Laird Of The Glen jimborae's Avatar
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    Fractal Design Node 804 & Kelvin S24 - A Competition Winner's Review

    So I was another one of the lucky ones to win the Fractal Design Node 804 case & Kelvin S24 AIO cooler. And I duly received these boxes about a week after being notified of my good fortune.


    The downside (for some) was that I would have to do a build and review within 4 weeks of being notified however as the family’s venerable Q6600 box was starting to feel sluggish due to a lack of raw power, ram and general clutter I felt that it was time they had an upgrade and this bundle would be the perfect starting point for a new machine.

    Starting with the case it looks to be a well thought out, if somewhat unconventional, design, with it being a cube effectively split into two halves. One side is for the motherboard and related gubbins, the other appears to be reserved for storage & power. The case itself is fairly light in weight but is actually very sturdy and not flimsy in look or feel at all, I believe it’s made from steel. Thumbscrews are provided in all the right places to make removal of the sides, top & hard drive cages a doddle and the overall impression is that of an attractive, sturdy, well finished case. Access is particularly good due to the shape of the case, large motherboard cut-out and removable panels, and I particularly liked the two tone black & white colour scheme. Here are some dodgy shots to give you the idea :



    Despite the odd cube shape of the case it can potentially hold a huge amount of gear or, as is more likely, offer the system builder a large degree of flexibility when deciding where to mount fans, radiators, hard drives and route the cabling etc. For the record the case can hold the following:
    10 fans, 4 SSD’s, 8 hard drives, a slimline optical drive & a full size ATX PSU



    Also there are at least 4 locations a 1 x 240mm radiators could be housed, these being in the roof or front of the case but due to space restrictions you couldn’t do both at the same time . Also all fan intake areas have removable dust filters which is a real bonus if you hate dust bunnies as much as I do.



    Which leads me neatly onto the other part of the review namely the Kelvin S24 cooler.

    Kelvin S24 Cooler
    Water-cooling is something that I’m certainly not new to, having been water-cooling my PC’s with custom loops for the last 10 years or more. But all in one systems are relatively new to me as generally I’ve always looked on them with a healthy amount of disdain and apathy in equal measure. Recently this view has somewhat softened due to improved performance of AIO’s and me having less time on my hands to be buggering about with custom loops.

    Recently I bought my first AIO system, an Antec Kuhler H2o 950 and I would love to tell you that it dispelled my original misgivings regarding AIO’s. Unfortunately the mounting system for the CPU block is so poorly designed & overly complicated that I’ve not found a motherboard that will accept it without it fouling on a choke or crushing a capacitor. It is a truly horrible piece of engineering and has sat unused on my parts shelf for the last 3 months. So the Kelvin had a lot to live up to if it wanted to make a good impression on me. Luckily it did!

    The unit comes well packaged and protected and with mounts for virtually all modern socket configurations. The only thing missing hardware wise are rubber gaskets to mount the included 2 four pin fans to the radiator and thus creating a good, quiet seal. However this is really a minor nit-pick. The mounting for the CPU block to the motherboard is thankfully a simple 2 piece affair and in no way encroaches on the area around the CPU socket itself.



    And thanks to the large cut out area on the case’s motherboard tray, mounting can be done with the board in place. The only thing to be wary of is to make sure the plastic back plate is in the correct orientation so that the pictured cut outs clear CPU socket rivets. Otherwise the back plate won’t sit correctly on the board and therefore the block won’t make even contact across the CPU. No mention is made of this or how tightly to screw down the mounting screws in the simple instructions provided.





    To further complicate things, and because I had the hardware available, I wanted to also water-cool the graphics card I was going to install, in this case an old Radeon XFX HD6950, modded to 6970 specs. Fractal state in their instructions that this can be done and past experience told me that the radiator should be able to cope with the extra heat generated by the GPU. Due to the fittings used by Fractal and the bleed/refill hole provided on the CPU block this meant that it was a very easy job to plumb in the extra hose & GPU block required and re-route the existing hoses. However said instructions give very little information on doing this and neither does their website so the uninitiated may not want to try this till this is rectified. So far, so good then.



    Next came the question of where to mount the radiator, initially I wanted to mount it at the front of the case as generally this makes it easier to avoid any potential airlocks or cavitation caused by air bubbles in the system. And it would also mean that access to the motherboard and ram would be unhindered. However because the HD6950 is such a long card this proved impossible and so the radiator had to go up top. This resulted in the ram being almost totally obscured once the radiator and fans were in place, so let’s hope that I don’t need access to the ram in the near future then.



    Finally it was time to screw down the CPU block to the motherboard and so on to my final gripe, namely the state of the CPU cold plate. Normally I’d expect this to be machined & polished to a smooth, highly reflective state in order to aid the transfer of heat away from the CPU. No such luck here! As you can see from the pictures it’s quite rough and ready looking however I wanted to test the kit as received so I didn’t take the opportunity to lap it smooth & shiny so let’s hope that it’s at least flat.





    Testing
    As stated earlier this build is going to be the family rig so no state of the art components needed here, just something that’s fast, stable, quiet & reasonably modern. And it won’t be overclocked …….initially at least. To that end the basis of the rig is made of spare parts comprising of an mATX Gigabyte Z77 motherboard, Core i5 2500K CPU, XFX 6950/70, 8Gb ram an SSD for the OS & programmes partitions and a 1Tb storage drive. Basically what I’d consider a pretty standard build just with non-standard cooling.

    To test it I just used OCCT to load it for an hour and recorded the temps, not very scientific I know but sufficient for the purposes of this review. Fans were set on low, via the built in fan controller and the pump was set at 12v via the motherboard. And so without further ado here are the results! :



    The CPU temps never went over 51c and condsidering it was also cooling the GPU (although not loaded at this point) is pretty damn impressive!

    Conclusion

    The case is very well put together and finished to a high standard; cooling would appear to be excellent, as is access and despite it’s odd shape & size it performed much better than anticipated. Basically a very tidy & functional build can be easily achieved.

    The Kelvin S24 has completely made me do a U-turn on my thinking regarding all-in-one cooling solutions. Especially impressive since I got off to such a faltering start with my Antec Kuhler experience. The ease with which I was able to add to the cooling loop and mount the kit is particularly noteworthy and this was then topped off with great cooling performance. The only fly in the ointment was the state of the cold plate but it would appear to have not adversely affected its cooling potential. I'll be definitely buying another one of these to replace my custom loop when the time comes.

    Pros:
    Good quality, rigid case
    Easy access with thumb screws where needed
    Good looks
    Decent amount of good quality fans included
    Low noise from both pump and fans (set on low)
    Great cooling performance from the Kelvin S24

    Cons:
    Over simplistic and incomplete instructions
    Poor finish on CPU cold plate
    As has been said in other reviews allen key heads on the bolts are not a good idea as they are too easily rounded


    Finally many thanks to Hexus and Fractal for free hardware it’s much appreciated.
    Last edited by jimborae; 25-04-2015 at 01:16 PM.

  2. Received thanks from:

    Apex (21-04-2015),DR (21-04-2015),g8ina (21-04-2015),kalniel (21-04-2015)

  3. #2
    Laird Of The Glen jimborae's Avatar
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    Re: Fractal Design Node 804 & Kelvin S24 - A Competition Winners Review

    Parting Shots :





    Last edited by jimborae; 21-04-2015 at 12:22 AM.

  4. Received thanks from:

    DDY (21-04-2015),Spreadie (21-04-2015)

  5. #3
    Senior Member Spreadie's Avatar
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    Re: Fractal Design Node 804 & Kelvin S24 - A Competition Winner's Review

    Nice. I'd be interested to see the results of a load test of CPU and GPU together on that cooler.
    Last edited by Spreadie; 21-04-2015 at 09:54 AM. Reason: typo
    Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes; after that, who cares?! He's a mile away and you've got his shoes!


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    Laird Of The Glen jimborae's Avatar
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    Re: Fractal Design Node 804 & Kelvin S24 - A Competition Winner's Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Spreadie View Post
    Nice. I'd best interested to see the results of a load test of CPU and GPU together on that cooler.
    Thanks, when I get time I'll try doing another GPU burn in test with Prime 95 running in the background and recording the temps.

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    Re: Fractal Design Node 804 & Kelvin S24 - A Competition Winner's Review

    Have you figure out the flow direction ?



  8. #6
    Laird Of The Glen jimborae's Avatar
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    Re: Fractal Design Node 804 & Kelvin S24 - A Competition Winner's Review

    Nope, & that's a good point I forgot mention. I just took a guess based on the connections on the block. I'll update the review as its very pertinent in my case.
    Last edited by jimborae; 22-04-2015 at 06:43 AM.

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    Re: Fractal Design Node 804 & Kelvin S24 - A Competition Winner's Review

    Pump noise

    Included fan noise

    I have found that messing with speed of the pump doesn't make much of a change to the noise generated i'll just have to live with it. The fans on the other hand make a lot of racket and do respond to being undervolted but performance suffers, might be better to get high airflow / pressure fans in and undervolt them and use these two on the back.

    The point you made about having the rad on the front is one i'd raise, with my 280x in i can not have fans and rad mounted on the front like i would like to so that i could have fans in the top.

    Theres a whole bunch of other niggles but on the whole i like the case



  10. #8
    Laird Of The Glen jimborae's Avatar
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    Re: Fractal Design Node 804 & Kelvin S24 - A Competition Winner's Review

    Noise isn't an issue on the kit I was sent. The pump is virtually inaudible just a slight high pitch whine, and the fan's shift enough air on low or medium for my requirements as my results showed. But yes on full power the fans do make quite a racket.

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