Description

This was a side project I've wanted to do for a while, and the release of the AMD 480 made now the perfect time to do it. The Fractal Design Node 202 is an interesting Mini-ITX that is sleek as all hell on the outside and does its best to provide space to work in on the inside.

The build is going to serve as a living room/travel PC. With its small form factor and wifi-enable motherboard, I'll be able to bring this around wherever I go. Better yet, with a Steam controller and a few programs set to launch on startup, I can boot this up and launch all of my games without even needing a keyboard and mouse, making this damn near a console in terms of ease of use.

The hardest part of this build was the cabling, but luckily there's plenty of airflow with the Noctua fans and the blower-style 480 that spits most of the hot air out of the case rather than into the processor chamber, so not having the perfect cabling doesn't affect the heat much.

The system performs exceptionally as the 480 pretty much crushes any game at 1080p/60fps/ultra. Also, I am looking to sell this for any interested parties. I've maintained it since the build date and have rarely run it as my main PC sees most of the use during Summer.

Part Reviews

CPU

A great processor for the price. Its a locked chip, so no overclocking, but it performs fantastic and won't be bottlenecking the 480.

Motherboard

I ended up picking this up from a Fry's when Newegg was telling me it would be 2 weeks to deliver the one I had ordered. I'm actually very happy with this motherboard as I wasn't originally planning on using a wifi antenna. The one included with this was easy to install however, and the antenna is actually magnetized so you can stick it to the side of the case to keep the PC's footprint small. The BIOS is really clean as well.

Memory

Well, not much to say about RAM, but it does its job. The motherboard only supports 2133mhz RAM but the 2400 was slightly cheaper at the time of purchase.

Video Card

The reviews are to be believed - this card is a beast. AMD has long reigned in the mid-range GPU sector and the 480 is just another reason why. Handles damn near every game I currently own at 1080p/60fps/Ultra. Doesn't get too hot as AMD is getting better about their temperatures, however this is a Mini-ITX case so temperatures are hotter than most benchmarks out there since all the parts are crammed together. The blower style cooler is great for this case as it spits all of its hot air straight out the back rather than having fans simply push the hot air around the case.

Case

Every since I saw JayzTwoCents do a build inside of this case I knew I had to have it. They have a very clever design with the GPU and CPU split into 2 chambers, with a PCI riser being used to bridge the gap between the GPU and the motherboard. There's a fairly sizeable open area that was perfect for stuff cables in to keep everything away from the GPU and CPU fans. Came with a 450w PSU which is perfect for this size of a PC. The case is extremely sexy as you can see by the pics, and has nice white LED that lights up when you turn it on. All in all, I'm even more impressed after building in it than I was watching the reviews. Its slightly larger than the original Xbox One, but its still small enough to fit next to your TV or on a shelf in an entertainment unit. It comes with a nice stand for vertical positioning as well.

Operating System

A decent operating system that I actually upgraded to Windows 10. Not much else to say except I'm a big fan of Windows 10 in general.

Case Fan

Noctua remains the king of case fans and these are no exception to that rule. Easy to install, very quiet, and provide plenty of cool air for the 480 to suck in.

Comments

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Hi! What's the temperatures like with the RX480 on high load while gaming? Have you run into any problems? Nice build by the way.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Temperatures are high but nothing that's concerned me so far. I play a lot of different games so temps have been all over the place. lightweight indie games the thing stays in the 50's, stuff lying Dying light has pushed it into the high 70's.

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for that. I'm thinking of doing similar build myself and was just worried about the CPU & GPU temperature at high load (looking to max out most games on 1080p 60Hz). Again, nice work with the build.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

How is the fan noise with something like Dying Light?

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Its noticeable, but so far I've only been playing sitting right next to the case. If its on your living room entertainment unit like it will be on mine soon, I'd imagine its no louder than the PS4.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Great job!

I would definitely replace the stock CPU cooler tho with a Noctua low profile cooler. I also installed a stock cooler, but got annoyed with the noise and just replaced it. The temperatures have dropped by about 5-10 degrees celsius too. But what's changed a lot is the fact that I don't hear the CPU fan anymore :)

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah I'm actually planning to do so when I get around to it, it's been a busy summer. I originally just left it stock because I was going to make this as cheap as possible. Of course, I got antsy and bought the more expensive motherboard, a 8gb 480 instead of the 4gb, and had to buy a hard drive when I broke the one I was going to repurpose for this :(

You could do this build for ~$800 with the Noctua cooler if you successfully did all the things I failed to do.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

How wa building in that case?

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Not bad at all. There were a few snags like having to bend the front USB cables to fit the fans, and rerouting the power cable helped a lot. If you just plan what you're doing beforehand and watch a video or two with some tips it's pretty simple.

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Thank you man

  • 38 months ago
  • 1 point

Any issues with those two case fans being PWM fans while the 4-pin case fan connector on your mobo is not a PWM connector?

I've got the same mobo and ordered the same fans, so I'm just worried about fan speed control. You can adjust it in the BIOS still, right?

  • 38 months ago
  • 2 points

Non-PWM still controls the fan speed, but through a different way. Instead of actually increasing and decreasing the RPM of the fan, the connector increases/decreases the voltage to the fan, allowing it to run at a higher or lower speed.

  • 37 months ago
  • 1 point

Great build!

I've seen many reviewers suggest blower-style GPUs for the Node 202. This makes total sense because of the reduced airflow in such a small case. But here on pcpartpicker I've seen what seems to be many successful builds that use open-air cooler GPUs on the Node 202. Do you think the GPU temps would look similar to yours with an XFX RX 480 GTR or an MSI RX 480 Gaming X using the same two Noctua NF-12s that you use? Also, do you think those open-air cooler GPUs (typically a little thicker than blower-style GPUS) would fit well with the 25mm Noctua fans or would I have to get thinner 12-15mm fans?

I'm considering putting an MSI RX 480 into a Node 202 because of its alleged performance/cooling but I'm still concerned about thermals and the required space for two 25mm Noctua fans in the GPU chamber.

  • 37 months ago
  • 2 points

I've just been going by youtubers that I typically trust, and they report higher temps. Its all dependent on what games you're playing, what settings/fps you're at too. Reviewers haven't had problems fitting the fans in there with normal cards.