The purpose of this build using the Node 202 was to make a portable, slim PC in which you can pack as much power into as possible. Wanted to make a portable PC that I could take to and from the office because the PCs at the office just weren’t snappy enough for me, and from time to time when I get the chance, do some gaming … at home. Since using an i7 together with an SSD, I couldn’t go back to using for long periods of time something less powerful like an AMD A10 with just a HDD which is what they had at the office. And once you use something so speedy and snappy and powerful, you can’t go back. Well, for me anyway.
So I started looking into mITX cases. First one that caught my attention was the Thermaltake Core V1 as I thought having a boxy case like that would make things portable. But then I watched Awesomesauce’s attempt to put an AIO liquid cooler into the Node 202, and as soon as I saw the Node 202, I knew that would be the one to go with as it was slim and potentially portable and could also find a travel bag for it like what Kyle from Awesomesauce did. And it just looked really aesthetically pleasing to me – clean and simple - compared to other slim cases such as the Raven RVZ01 and RVZ02. So I went with the Node 202!
This was my second time building a PC. First time was in May 2014. So I did not realize the level of difficulty there was in building in such a small confined space, especially when it comes to cable management. Challenging, but it was actually really fun to build in. Many times I pulled components out and put them back in again just to figure out how to route the cables.
Initially I only had my old Gigabyte GTX 770 in the case with the stock Integra 450W PSU that came with the Node 202. Then I ordered the Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1070 when it was on sale as pre-order from Mike’s Computer Shop. The GTX 1070 worked fine with the stock PSU but I decided to switch out the PSU with the Corsair SF600 600W PSU because the stock PSU had a quite audible coil whine when under load.
Cable management is a pain! But is possible! Good to have not overly large hands when building in the Node 202. You really need a lot of patience when building in the Node 202 and also lots and lots of CABLE TIES! Those cable ties do wonders for making everything look nice and tidy! What inspired me to make it tidy was the build of bluebrandon – “Quantum – Console Sized Gaming PC”, so neat! Good job mate!
I probably pulled the system apart 7 times before I got it to look as it does now. As you can see in the pictures, I used cable ties wherever I could so that the cables wouldn’t move and would be much tidier looking as bunched together. Just a tip for those planning to build in this, try to route as much as you can behind the GPU riser card and also under the GPU between the fans and the middle wall for a nice clean look :)
I also had to make sure that the cables in the motherboard chamber were as low as possible as I decided to add a 140mm fan on the case where there’s not meant to be a 140mm fan! (Still had a good couple of mm between the 140mm fan and the CPU cooler fan) Just thought I’d try it to lower the CPU temps as I was hitting past 85 degrees Celsius on Prime 95 stress testing using “small FTTs” with just the Noctua CPU cooler. Couldn’t hurt to try and glad that I did.
With the 140mm fan installed in the motherboard chamber and the two 120mm fans in the GPU chamber, my temps became mid-70s Celsius on Prime 95 stress testing while doing Furmark stress test at the same time, with the GPU temp maxing out at 68 Celsius. Testing done with ambient temp of 20-21 degrees Celsius.
Tip – don’t set the GPU chamber fans to exhaust as it fights with the GPU fans for air and raises the temps. Tried having one 120mm fan exhaust and the other to intake, and temps went up over 85 degrees during game play of Doom (2016). With both fans set to intake, shaved off a good 20 degrees.
Did not do any overclocking and don’t have any plans to as I have the i7 6700 non-“K” version.
All the fans especially the GPU fans can get really noisy if under load…if you let it. For me I don’t mind the noise. I prefer having the noise and knowing that the components are staying at a nice safe temp. Noise can be solved by using headphones or nice loud speakers anyway.
But during web browsing, word processing, watching videos on Youtube and VLC from the network HDD, the Node 202 is pretty silent. Fans stay at low RPMs. The GPU fan turns completely off as that’s the trend with new GPUs nowadays.
The Corsair SF600 PSU also is very silent. Also has the fan-off feature when there is only a light load.
You can set fan profiles of the case and the GPU to silent so that you don’t get much noise during load, you’ll just have to deal with the fact that the temps will be higher. I’m more comfortable with a bit of noise than high temps.
Gaming on this PC is an absolutely great experience. With the GTX 1070 and i7 6700 and m.2 SSD combo, everything is just snappy and smooth. Add to that the 144hz monitor too for more buttery smoothness! No screen tearing anymore! Temps are a lot better during gaming than stress testing temps.
Choice of PC Parts:
Case – Node 202. Just fell in love with it and thought it was the perfect case for me and my needs :)
CPU – Chose the i7 6700 non-“K” as I did not plan on overclocking but still wanted the power to do gaming, video editing and image editing at times. I would expect overclocking in a case like this would yield much heat.
CPU Cooler – Just thought I’d try the Noctua CPU cooler as I was seeing it everywhere and heard good things about it. As I found, for my setup for some reason, it wasn’t cooling my CPU enough hence the need to add that 140mm case fan above it. Maybe I didn’t install the CPU cooler properly or applied the proper amount of thermal paste… I don’t know, but can’t be bothered to check, re-seat, clean off the thermal compound and apply it again. Maybe someone with more experience has an answer to this?
Mobo – Just went with Asus as that’s what I was comfortable with and never had a problem with Asus in my first build in 2014.
RAM – RAM is RAM and 16gb of DD4 2133mhz was enough for my needs.
PSU – Corsair SF600 was bought a little later as I didn’t like the coil whine of the stock PSU.
GPU – I wanted an upgrade from my GTX 770 so I went and bought the GTX 1070 as I would only be playing whenever I got the chance to. GTX 1080 would be overkill for me, and TOO EXPENSIVE, as I knew that I’d only be gaming at 1080p at 144hz for a constant 120 fps in games like Doom (2016). I am hoping that this GPU will probably last for the next 5 years or so, and I don’t plan to go up to 4k gaming any time soon as I don’t have the budget for that kind of a monitor or that kind of gaming setup.
The GPU has a bit of sag and touches the 120mm fans underneath it if the case is set to horizontal orientation. So as you can see in the picture, I took one of the USB 3.0 cables to prop up and separate the GPU from the 120mm fan closest the front I/O ports. In vertical orientation, which is how I position it, GPU sag shouldn’t be a problem, but good to have those tiny millimetres of space between the GPU and the 120mm fans.
Storage – Got the A-Data SSD 240GB for the OS and programs and the Sandisk X400 m.2 SSD for storage and game installations. Just to note – the m.2 SSD under the mobo does get hot during load (48 degrees Celsius in my case) so just watch out for that. Don’t really know the safe/max operating temp of the m.2 SSD.
Case fans – Chose to go with Noctua for a little bit more silent operation. They also have good static pressure ratings which is beneficial for the Node 202’s confined, tight spaces. Go for static pressure rather than air flow! Had to take off the dust filter above the CPU to install the 140mm fan. After a while, I started to grow a liking to the look of the fans as others have stated that they’re not that pretty to look at :)
Other things to do/buy:
I plan to add dust filters to the vents where the 140mm fan sits and also the side vents on the mobo chamber side. Already ordered a 10 pack of 140mm dust filters from Amazon that should be coming in this week or maybe next.
Have a Logitech Z623 2.1 speaker system just laying around, so might connect and add it to my setup down the road.
If I really want to get my game on, maybe I’ll plan on buying a good mechanical gaming keyboard and better gaming mouse.
I received my 140mm dust filters in the mail and installed them on the vent above the CPU and the side vents on the mobo chamber side. I just cut the dust filters to right size and slipped them into the side vents to place them. Looks really good! And that should help keep the dust out! Check out the pictures! :)
I’m really happy with this build and it’s just really REALLY AWESOME! I can’t recommend building in the Node 202 enough if you want a challenge and something slim and simple and looking into building a mini ITX machine. Performance, size, looks, and noise are where I want them to be. Does what I need it to do and fulfils its purpose.
Happy building everyone!