We completed this build last night, went into the early hours. The case looks awesome. You can watch a video of the whole building process here:

This is used as an HTPC gaming rig, hooked to a large screen TV.

There were a couple of issues though (despite having planned ahead: ), some of which I think I'll still have to tackle on.

1. The HAWK wouldn't fit: This card has a taller than usual PCB and a metal bracket around it. This interfered with the screw tab on the case for mounting the complete GPU holding bracket. In the end I had to bend the tab and not use that screw hole. Support wise it's not structurally weaker at all since the rest of the screws are plenty to hold the whole thing.

2. Dust filters were touching the case fans. When the bottom lid was on, it was pushing on the dust filter mesh (which is a bit loose if you ask me) and the slim fans I am using are apparently closer to it than regular fans so it was scratching on the mesh. I used some sticky felt/rubber around the dust filter and in the middle column between the 2 fans so that it spaces out the bottom lid and doesn't let it push the mesh in the fans. This worked well, although I need to use a bit more force to clip on all the bottom lid tabs into place when assembling now.

3. Temperatures. The GPU has a great cooler, but this case is so small that heat accumulates faster and stick for a bit. As such temperatures are higher than in normal cases. Despite people having problems with GPU temperatures I can say that with this setup I really don't encounter any. The GPU never goes over 80 degrees, and the cooler on it never goes above 47% - which is still really silent.

The issue is the CPU, since I replaced the stock deepcool cooler with one FW121, the temperatures go up to 90 degrees in prime95 max heat test. Granted this is after 10 minutes of load, but still I think that this particular CPU cooler does not benefit from static pressure and needs more airflow.

So I will be replacing the FW121 (which have great static pressure but really low airflow) with 3 Prolimatech Ultra Sleek Vortex 12 coolers. Those have a good static pressure of 0.9 but awesome airflow that rivals Noctua 25mm thick fans.

I think this will allow more of the air that is not utilized in the bottom GPU chamber to go into the CPU chamber through the openings between the two and the bigger airflow will make the CPU cooler perform better too.

4. Overall noise. In stress testing this thing is audible towards loud. Given it's a small case it's not terrible but still louder than I'd like it to be. One problem are the FW121 as I mentioned, given they have low airflow rating they have to spin to their max sooner rather than later to push in some more fresh air - a problem that I did not foresee. Replacing them with the USV 12 should fix this, even more so since the USV 12 even under max load should be only 17dB while the FW121 is more like 27dB (as per manufacturer specs sheets).

5. Vibrations when in horizontal position. When horizontal on my hollow tv console it transfers a lot of vibration to it, to the point where there's a barely audible but annoying humm/buzz. When vertical on the stand this does not happen. Any suggestions how to take care of this? I want to use it horizontal.

The PSU cooler is surprisingly not very loud, but uner max load it is audible, and with this setup it reaches a good load under stress testing. I plan to replace it with a 600W from Corsair first chance - so that it runs cooler and quieter.

Bottom line is that such small cases are bound to be a challenge, and you make mistakes like the choice of coolers I made - but you learn. Going for such a small CFM rating and only static pressure clearly doesn't work. The CPU cooler in this scenario benefits more from airflow I presume, and still - the USV 12 static pressure is really great too. Really hoping this will be a good investment since the USV 12 fans aren't cheap.

Still it is all a great experience, and I would do it again.

Last but not least, please share your opinions and any advice you may have regarding this build and the issues that I encountered. Do you think the USV 12 will improve acoustics and cooling?

Notes: The CPU temperature under load is normal versus prime95 max heat 10 minute run. Temperatures are really similar in horizontal/vertical but I'll do more real world testing of this (not stress since stress seems to always yield max results) and write up on it later.

================================================================================ UPDATE/EDIT: ================================================================================

I just replaced the FW121s with 3 USV 12 from Prolimatech - A bit of acoustic improvement, but no change in temperatures whatsoever.

I have to point out that the noise would be even lower, but my motherboard has terrible PWM control, so the USV which are supposed to be in the range of 400-1300 RPM, run at 800-1350.

I was able to tweak this with the SmartFan utility from Gigabyte, but it does not allow for remembering of FAN settings on restart, so it was pointless and I gave it up. Speed Fan does not recognize the PWM headers for some reason, so that was out of the question too.

So as you can see I can't run the coolers at their lowest settings, and what's more the SYSTEM FAN PWM control is worse and runs the fans at 900-1400 RPM. Had I had an ASUS board with better PWM control, and a few extra PWM pins it would have been quite different.

So overall, I guess the haswell + radeon combo is a bit of a hot combination, and in such a small case it means a bit more noise and somewhat higher temperatures than in the NODE 304.

Still perfect as a living room console.

Part Reviews


Awesome little CPU. Been serving me great for a few years now.

CPU Cooler

Good heatsink, but can't use the FAN in the NODE 202. With an FW121 it is same performance but less noise than stock cooler. I'll be testing with a better airflow and still good static pressure USV 12 next to see if performance improves.


A champion of a motherboard. Really sturdy, stable and good performer. Though with a non K processor you should go for the H87 variant, to save a few bucks.


Quality RAM, great performer, looks amazing.


Speed! Lots of speed! Amazing little SSD.

Video Card

One of the best editions of 270x - real silent. In normal cases the fan never goes above 35%.

In the Node 202 on stress test it only went up to 50% while keeping temps around 80 degrees.


To be honest I expected more from this case. It still looks great and I love it, but there were some issues that you can check in my build.

Some were due to bad calculations on my part, but the issue with the dust filters touching the fan was a bit of a letdown.

Still I managed to sort that out and overall, it's an amazing little case.

Though keep in mind that this is bound to have higher temperatures, and depending on parts that might mean more noise.

Power Supply

Good value PSU. Really not very loud, though audible at high loads.

Very stable - ran stress test on both CPU and GPU for an hour and this guy never even choked.

Case Fan

Expected more.

These are high static pressure fans, but for the price they do not create enough positive pressure to force all hot air out of the case quicker, and have very low CFM which means not enough fresh air is being pulled in the case.

I reckon they should be good for radiators but not my usage of case fans on an extremely small case, and a CPU heatsink fan in the same case.

Really good build quality though, bit of a scratching noise from one out of 3 on high RPM in some orientations. Sleeve bearing..

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  • 50 months ago
  • 3 points

Wow +1000 for the excellent descriptions and write-up of your build process and challenges.

Sad to hear those fans are not working out since they are really appealing. The color of the frame is eye-catching. Cannot say I am surprised by your heat challenges in such a tight case, and with an i5 and Radeon. Regardless you did fantastic work!

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

As you can see in the comment I made with additional testing, the heat is really not that big of an issue - sure it's warmer but it's a small case and the fans I chose are not ideal.

I will add the same tests with the new fans once they arrive.

But I guess I was expecting it to be miraculously cooler, especially when horizontal.

None the less, still love it, and will find a way to sort out all the issues hahah :)

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

Here are the tests I promised for orientation:

Load setup:

Metro Last Light benchmark. Options: Resolution: 1920 x 1080; DirectX: DirectX 11; Quality: High; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Advanced PhysX: Disabled; Tesselation: Normal; Motion Blur: Low; SSAA: ON;

30 consecutive runs

VERTICAL MLL Load: CPU: 66°C (fan @92%) max GPU: 81°C (fan @47%) max

CPU LOAD: 84% max GPU LOAD: 99% max

NOISE: Audible sound of air moving through the case and very hardly noticeable FAN engine noise from the FW121s. Noise is not annoying, but clearly noticeable over the room noise levels.

Subjective noise score: 4/10 (higher is better/more silent)


CPU: 38°C (fan @60%) GPU: 29°C (fan @30%)

NOISE: Only audible if you get really close. Even then not noisy at all. Still, not completely silent (there are moving fans after all). But inaudible compared to room noise levels from 50cm and further.

Subjective noise score: 8.5/10 (higher is better/more silent)


CPU: 39°C (fan @60%) GPU: 31°C (fan @30%)

NOISE: Slight vibration audible, seems the rubber feet don't absorb all the vibrations really well, and in a completely silent room the vibration noise transferred to the wooden tv-console is barely audible but noticeable none the less. Should be able to fix this with some padding material though. Were it not for the vibrations it might be a better orientation for noise.

Subjective noise score: 7.5/10 (higher is better/more silent)

HORIZONTAL MLL Load: CPU: 68°C (fan @92%) max GPU: 82°C (fan @52%) max

CPU LOAD: 84% max GPU LOAD: 99% max

NOISE: The vibrations are very noticeable once the Case Fans start spinning more. I guess I either need to tighten them more or add rubber washers. In any case not cool. Otherwise if it were not for the vibration issue I guess noise would be the same as in vertical, if not a bit better since some of the vents would be muffled under the case.

Subjective noise score: 2/10 (higher is better/more silent)

There you have it, I'll test again with the new case fans once they arrive and see if it makes any difference. Those will be higher CFM but decent static pressure USV 12 from Prolimatech. I don't think I'll bother with the vibration until I do.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

You could probably pull off the case for a tall book now that I think about it. +1 For the build though. :)

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

"Fractal Design" by Josh Smith?

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Hahah, I am considering it.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice build, but just so you know, the Youtube video got copyright striked.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks mate, yeah the radio was on in the background. Processing it now and will reupload :)

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Nothing seems to get past Content ID.

  • 50 months ago
  • 2 points

Hahah, you should see the list of songs in the copyright section on the initial video on youtube.

If shazam can't ever find a song I should record it with video on my phone and upload it on youtube.

Youtube will definitely find it for me :D

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Reuploaded :)

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

I bought the Sapphire Nitro Radeon R9 380 4G and had the same issue as you: the PCB / backplate is too wide / tall. Bought a new GPU instead. And the Sapphire I just installed it in my other rig.

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

There was no way I was gonna let the case defeat me! :D

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice job, my fav part is the gpu suppport bracket. Too bad Noctua doesn't make 120mm slim fans

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, the bracket is essential :)

As for noctua, check this out:

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

That's impressive, those USV12's are worth it

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

About 7 more days till they arrive. Will definitely write a detailed comparison after that :)

  • 50 months ago
  • 1 point

May I ask where you got the gpu support bracket?

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

yeah...i might ask the same question..on my first thought on their vid...where the fak they get that thing? cz i really need that even i use zotac 1060 mini..

  • 42 months ago
  • 1 point

Do you think I could fit the NH-L9x65 into the case? It's 5mm taller than your current CPU cooler. Elsewise, fantastic build!

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