Description

I joined the HTPC trend very late this summer of 2019, but after noticing how often and increasingly we had to chromecast to our main 75" living room tv, I finally decided to do it. I went mini-ITX with the Fractal Design Node 202 because I didn't want a giant computer to clog up our entertainment center.

When I started this build, my intention was to use the Ryzen 3600 in the MSI B450i. I had a 2700x to flash the newest BIOS to it. So I did that, but alas nothing worked -> the stupid computer would post only once in 3 tries, and it kept BSODing. So I reluctantly went to the 2700x which ran this system smoothly. Fortunately I had a computer (my wife's) which used this Ryzen 2700x chip on an ASUS z470 mobo. The z470 mobo after BIOS update took to the 3600 beautifully. My conclusion is that to utilize the newer ryzen 3000s, you should be on at least the z470s if not the z570s. I wonder if mobo manufacturers will iron out these issues with these new Ryzen chips soon, but so far I'm sticking with the 2700x in this small case, which has been occasionally problematic.

I first used the Noctua L9a mini cooler, which was inadequate at cooling this rig. I frequently saw temperatures reaching 95-100c. So I ordered the ID Cooling IS60 from China and anxiously waited 3 weeks for it to arrive safely (though a bit crushed at the packaging). This cooler has excellent heatsink design, but the mounting system sucks - just 4 cardboard o-rings to hold down the screws on the backside of the mobo - ??!!! The fan is also thin but inferior by temp measurements than the superior Noctua AF12x15. Finally this solution lowers temps by at least 10c during typical usage. I do have a Scythe Big Shuriken 2 rev B, but there are no good mounting solutions for AM4 boards as of yet. I could try dremeling the L9a mount holes to jigger the BS2revB onto it, but one slip and it's toast. So I'll stick with the inferior chinese IDcooling IS60 for now.

The GPU was a pleasant surprise. I had low expectations for AMD's Radeon 5700xt based on reviews early. I heard it was a heat monster, along with my high TDP 2700x, so I mounted 2 of the Noctua AF12x25s right up against the blower GPU - one facing the blower to stack air into it. Up against the other end of the GPU though, I flipped the 2nd AF12x25 to exhaust. I thought with the tiny bit of space between the GPU and the case vents this might allow enough air movement to make a difference. Because the fans were also slightly larger in footprint than the GPU, I thought some the interior heat in the case might also escape this way too. In any case, according to GPU-z, the hot point temps of my XFX Radeon 5700xt has never reached anything above 60c. I almost wonder if there is a bug in the program and the temps are not reading correctly, because normal usage GPU temps are in the 30-40c range.

I did buy a cheap red aluminum heatsink from china to the backside M.2 660p. I was hoping I could get it to contact the case bottom and thus synergize with the metal of the case for maximal heatsink effect. I'm not sure this is happening but according to HWmonitor and cpu-z my boot M.2 is not having any thermal problems anyway - probably a heat sink on the M.2 is not so necessary usually. I did transfer 3TB of photos and vids to my 2TB of M.2 and 3.5TB of SSD after my build completed - this took a couple hours and during this time the M.2 did heat up to 70c range. I don't foresee doing this again anytime soon though. I thought about trying to attach another exhaust thin fan (Noctua AF12x15) right up against the vent that lies approximately over the mobo cooler. To accomplish this I would would have had to mount the fan on the top of the case rather than inside it. I would thus have to dremel holes to allow the fan cables in. I elected not to do this because it would be ugly and I wonder if it would make much of a difference anyway. I did mount bigger rubber screw-in feet to the corners of this case in case I decided to risk letting it sit horizontally/flat rather than as a thin tower which optimizes aeration. Overall I've enjoyed this build and the cable managment isn't too horrible. The worst part of the build was trying to fit 2 SSDs into the tiny spaces between the two compartments.

In the future, maybe I'll swap out the mobo for a x570 board if cheaper ones come out - then I could swap back for the lower TDP ryzen 3600 for less heat. I considered undervolting the 2700x, but for now I'm happy with the ~55c running temps at the cpu.

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Comments

  • 5 months ago
  • 1 point

Have you tried swapping the exhaust fan underneath the GPU to intake? I'll admit that I don't really know much about HTPC airflow, but I think it's worth testing.

Regardless, lovely use of the Node 202. Kinda wish they'd refresh it at some point, like they've done with a few of their more mainstream cases.

  • 5 months ago
  • 2 points

I haven't tried it because the fan is about 1-2mm from the GPU, so if air were directed into it, it would be at least 50% blocked immediately by the solid metal of the GPU case. Also this guy explains the reasoning of the fan placement better here: https://youtu.be/Tya9rISnmQc?t=120

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

What is the maximum CPU temperature you have with the Id Cooling IS-60 inside case Node 202?

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

it can go as high as about 83c in brief spikes if I run prime95 for >15minutes, or in video editing rendering - it will settle in at about 75-77c at max 100% cpu utilization. The GPU is surprisingly cool despite being blower model: like 50c during intense gaming or video rendering, usually about 31c while watching videos - it makes me wonder if the gpu temp sensor is off (unless the noctua NF-A12x25 fans x2 is really doing a good job cooling the gpu). In day-to-day usage including with gaming, the temps only go about as high as 72c or so typically. In light usage such as watching youtube vids, copying files, or such I see it go to about 65c at most. This is after manually adjusting fan curves on my msi mobo of course.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

How did you plug in the PSU? Is plug they allotted upside down for you too?

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

I'm not sure what you mean? the psu plug routes internally through the case interior then the plug out is in the rear near gpu area - no problems in mounting the psu or the plug cables were noticed.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

Dang, I wish I could attach photos...for the plug that routes internally, specifically the end that plugs into the PSU (it's a right angle plug), the angled bits are on the top of the plug. But if you mount the PSU with the fan down, the connector is upside down now, with the angled bits on the bottom of the plug. I went around that by just feeding extra plug and spinning it around, but I wanted to know if anyone else had the problem.

Or maybe I just suck at cable management.

  • 2 months ago
  • 1 point

For a not custom water cooled system like this one, I would not go with the reference because the blower style fan on it is garbage