This computer was built to replace my living room HTPC from 2014 which was using a giant Cooler Master HAF XB EVO case. I wanted something small and understated that wouldn't look out of place on a TV stand shelf.
Case: The second I saw the Node 202 I knew I had to use it. From an aesthetics viewpoint it's probably my favorite case ever - beautifully simple and compact. It looks just as good in real life as it does in pictures.
It is hell to work in though. It took me five straight hours to put everything together. I tend to take assembly slowly, but even for me that's excessive. Some of that is my own fault for having to go back and fix mistakes (not properly aligning the motherboard into the port cover on the back, realizing I had forgetting to screw in the riser after the case was closed up), but those mistakes would have been much quicker to fix in any other case. Dealing with cables is every bit the nightmare everyone warns of. By the time I was done I never wanted to assemble a computer again.
The end result might just be worth it though. :) As I said, the case is gorgeous, stays remarkably cool, is all but silent at idle and only the GPU fan can be heard under load.
CPU: I had been waiting for Zen 2 to launch to decide on a CPU. I was leaning toward the 3700X but endless tales of BIOS issues, high voltage and temps, crashing, games not working, hot motherboards that require active cooling, etc. made me decide to go with the 9700K. This computer is exclusively used for gaming and web browsing, so less productivity potential doesn't affect me. It's more important that the fans aren't randomly revving up all the time.
So far it's been... fine, I guess. Honestly, most of the time it's hard to notice a difference coming from an i7-4770K. It's certainly better, but Assassin's Creed Odyssey still can't stay above 60fps 100% of the time. That game is the bane of my existence. I haven't had a whole lot of time to test yet, I'll have to post more impressions later.
CPU Cooler: I did a lot of looking at coolers. The most recommended, the Scythe Big Shurikan 2 and Cryorig C7, aren't available anymore, so I had initially settled on the Noctua NH-L9i. Many said it wasn't the best for this case as it's too short and ends up recycling heat, but it seemed to work well enough for others on here. Then I stumbled across the IS-60, and I swear this cooler was made for this case. I switched out the stock fan for a Noctua NF-A12x15, and it fits ~perfectly~ underneath the dust filter.
I was initially concerned it might not be mounted very well as the heatsink is actually resting on the motherboard heatsink, so be forewarned, it barely fits with this motherboard. In the end though the temperatures seem excellent for such a small case. If I leave the Windows power plan on Balanced the clocks drop down really low when not in use and it idles around 30-32c, on the High Performance plan clocks stay at 4.8ghz and it idles around 34c. I haven't done intensive stress testing and probably won't as it's unnecessary, I'm never going to do anything like that in real use. In gaming though it's usually in the low 70s. That's at stock, I may look into voltages/overclocking later.
GPU: I brought along the 1080 Ti from my existing build. There is plenty of space in the case for a bigger card, and it stays plenty cool. I'm a little annoyed that I can hear this card (under load only), coming from a STRIX 970 that was completely silent. It was cheap when I got it though which was why I went with this one. It's really not that bad, but next card I want to get back to silent.
More thoughts and pics to come...