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Thread: Review: Fractal Design Node 804 & Kelvin S24

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    • Nobull's system
      • Motherboard:
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    Review: Fractal Design Node 804 & Kelvin S24

    So lucky me, lucky me I was one of the winners of the recent Fractal Design competition. No longer can I moan about "never winning anything".

    Right off the bat, I think it's best to give you all an idea about myself. In Hexus terms I'm not particularly tech-savvy. I'm a self-taught self-builder of moderate experience, having put together about ten computers - two for myself and a few for friends and family. I don't know much more about components than what is necessary to know at the time of building, but I do generally keep up to date with things a bit via Hexus. So what I'm basically saying is this: take this is a layperson's review.

    Node 804
    I have to confess the case is a component I usually scrimp on, having never spent more than say £30 on one. My current Coolermaster Elite 370 being fairly typical. The reason for this is my PC spends its time in a cupboard within my desk. More on that later (best cliffhanger since HL2 Episode 2?). I have to say on first impressions, the Node 804 really shines. It has a nice brushed aluminium finish which looks the bees knees compared to the garish plastic piano black of my Elite 370.



    However, I have to say my initial thoughts were, it's bloody mahoosive. Perhaps I had silly expectations of a mATX cube case, but there was me thinking it would be a space-saver. That it ain't. Its footprint is so much bigger than my Elite 370, okay so it's not as tall, but it's nearly twice as fat. It therefore fills a bit of an odd niche in terms of size. It's too big to fit on a desk. It's too big to take to LAN parties (because I've been to exactly zero of them). It's also, most annoyingly of all for me, too big to fit in my little desk cupboard. Well it did fit, but I had to remove the hinges to get it in. Then because the buttons are inexplicably placed on the side it meant I couldn't turn it on. Which meant faffing around getting a wake on LAN feature set up. Ergo, to turn my PC on I have to use my phone. Not ideal.



    So what's it like to work with? Well the size and form factor do really come into their own when building. It's quite simply a joy to work with. There's a lot of space and the two chamber approach and removable HDD cages show excellent implementation. I was concerned some of my cables would struggle getting from one side to the next, but the cable management is efficient and there were no problems. The amount of storage you could fit inside this thing is ridiculous. If you filled it with those new 8TB drives you'd probably have enough storage to keep about half the internet on your computer. Or your entire Steam library, whichever is bigger. I did find the fitting of the SSDs in the front panel a bit odd. Not necessarily bad. Just odd. If you wanted to remove your front panel regularly it could get to be a bit of a pain. One real boon about the cube shape is that it was easy to flip around on any of its ends, which made putting it together that much easier. The removable dust filters are a nice touch, especially when you consider the state my components were in when I took them apart. They looked like something Miss Haversham would have on her table. It was a good excuse to give them a bit of a spring clean.



    A word on performance. I found system wide temps to be very good, a good few degrees cooler than my Elite 370. Noise was similar.

    Pros
    Great to work with
    Tardis-like storage
    Very pleasing, understated aesthetics
    Solid performer
    Good cable management

    Cons
    Odd footprint
    Button placement might be a pain for some
    Doesn't fit in "my little cupboard"

    Kelvin S24
    Here's some of those fetishistic unboxing images, go on, get your drool on:


    So this beauty (or should I say beast?) is my first dip of the toe into the world of water cooling. It's fair to say that it's complete and utter overkill for my set up. With a multiplier-locked CPU I don't overclock and to be honest the stock cooler is more than enough. Having said that, I was previously using an Arctic Freezer 13 Pro. Installation was a bit of a pain. Fitting the cooler to the mounting bracket on the motherboard (which was not yet fitted) with the radiator already installed was a bit of an epic battle between man and machine which resulted in more cursing than the Mummy XVII: The really bad curse. I'm not sure when that hits cinemas. The use of an allen key seemed completely superfluous and more annoying than simple screws. Temperatures were admirable though not mind-blowing. I'm not sure with a stock-clocked CPU you can really push the thing hard enough to see the true benefits. The max temperature that Burn In recorded was a decent 49 degrees. The average was 35. Bear in mind this is only a couple of degrees lower than my AF 13 Pro. Noise-wise it was not necessarily louder than my AF 13 Pro but more noticeable, if that makes sense. The sound of the pump catches my ear more, I think just because it's not a sound I'm used to. I like the idea that this is expandable. I'd love to watercool my 6950, but a cooling block would be worth more than the card is these days.

    Pros
    A (relatively) easy introduction into watercooling
    Solid build quality
    Expandable

    Cons
    Fitting could be simpler
    Odd use of allen key
    Performance similar to good air cooling
    Noise is noticeable

    Overall I think these are both decent bits of kit, though I'm not sure either really suit my needs. I persevered for a week with the setup but I've since reverted back to my Elite 370 and AF Pro 13. Don't get me wrong the Fractal kit is fundamentally better. But the size issue was a serious pain for the Node 804. I live in central London. My flat is nearly smaller than the case itself. That means having it tucked in the "my little cupboard" (FYI this is not a euphemism you filthy blackguards) is a necessity. I couldn't get down with turning on the PC with my phone. As for the cooler, it just felt like overkill and the noise was a slight annoyance. Fitting my AF Pro 13 back into the Elite 370 was not as easy as I thought though and made me appreciate some of the Kelvin's merits.

    Thanks so much to Hexus and Fractal for the gear.

  2. Received thanks from:

    Apex (30-04-2015),jimborae (28-04-2015)

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