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. I’ve installed quite a few small form factor systems and usually they are a disaster. Everything is so cramped and you cannot really get things installed. With the Node 304 everything has its own place and fits in rather easily. All three of the hard drive cages can be removed for easy installation of your hard drives and to make more room for installing other components.
Talking about what all you can install in the Node 304 I was really surprised when I first read the spec sheet that it supported up to six hard drives! I don’t know that many mini ITX cases that can support that many hard drives! For those looking to build a media center PC or media server there sure is a lot of storage space in the Node 304. All of that storage space does come at a cost though, there are no 5.25-inch optical drive bays on this case. The fact that you can install a normal ATX power supply in the case in another plus. Sometimes it is so hard to find the smaller power supplies that are made for mini ITX systems.
While installation was very easy I did run into a few issues. First the motherboard standoffs. They were not installed so I had to install them myself. This normally is not a big deal, but the standoffs were pretty hard to install. There was no tool included and I actually had to use pliers to get all 4 standoffs installed. The second issue I ran into was that when I installed my video card it blocked some of the modular connections on the power supply. You are going to want to keep that in mind when selecting a power supply for your build.
Of course the king of the mini ITX cases is the BitFenix Prodigy. The Node 304 is in no way a Prodigy killer, but a great alternative. Especially for those looking for the most compact case with the most storage space. That is where the Node 304 really shines. Both the Node 304 and BitFenix Prodigy are $89.99 at my favorite retailer. Overall ThinkComputers gives the Fractal Design Node 304 a 9 out of 10 score.
– 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
– Motherboard standoffs are quite hard to install correctly
– Modular power supplies will not work with longer graphics cards
– No 5.25-inch drive bays