Great case with quality high-perf components that packs a big punch in a small package. As quiet as a console but that still leaves much to be desired.
Temps Case Off - Cage Only:
Room temp: 21c
Completely Idle: ~35c - nothing open, Windows not doing anything
Light load: ~40c - Web browsing with Chrome, youtube, etc.
Stress load: ~85c (throttles) - 4.5GHz
Temps Case On - Fully Assembled:
Room temp: 21c
Completely Idle: ~40c - nothing open, Windows not doing anything
Light load: ~50c - Web browsing with Chrome, youtube, etc.
Stress load: ~95c - 4.5GHz
This build has been a long time coming. Ever since I got a PS3, and later a PS4, I moved away from PC gaming. Consoles had the advantage of being small, things just working, not having to worry about system requirements and drivers and such. The past decade I've dedicated most of my time to education and career, gaming took a distant backseat that could be fulfilled by the occasional console session. But times have changed, I've now progressed far enough in my career that I can reap the rewards of wealth and free time. Besides, these days many of those PC problems can be avoided by building a PC with quality parts, parts that are popular and highly reviewed. If you take the time to carefully research your build, and spend adequate money for good parts, PC gaming is the way to go. You'll enjoy a seemingly infinite selection of games and much much higher graphics quality.
With the Node 202, I noticed that the case makes big difference in sounds and thermals when it's closed up vs being naked. I ran it for a couple of weeks with just the cage, without the top/bottom of the case, and it's definitely quieter and cooler.
Working with this case, as others have noted, is definitely a challenge. The bottom of the case is PITA to remove the first time but once you figure it out it's easier the next time. It's even harder to remove once you have components installed, they block tabs. The trick is to disengage the 3 tabs from one side, pry out the corner and wedge something (like a pencil) in to keep it open, then pry out another side. If you don't wedge something in, the moment you try to pry out another side the first side pops back into its tabs. You also have to not be afraid of breaking the tabs/case, put some muscle into it.
Another PITA is cable management. The cables are often too long and difficult to bend. I ended up routing them a few different ways until I found something that worked for me, stuffing bundles of cables in every empty compartment.
I had a problem with the case fans sucking the dust filter into the fans making a clicking sound. I added spacers (cut up foam and double-sided tape) to the fans to to move them a few mm out to keep the dust filter from hitting the fan blades.
Case: The case was the first thing I selected. I live in a tiny apartment and need something that takes up little space and is easy to move around. I spent a lot of time looking at different cases, different builds and setups that people achieved. The Node 202 is great looking and fairly easy to build in so I went with it.
CPU: I went with the 7700K because at the time it was on sale and in stock, the 8700K was just released and was not in stock.
Cooler: I considered the Shuirken vs Cryorig C7. The Shuirken wasn't in stock and almost twice the price of the C7, so I went with the C7.
Motherboard: After looking at other Node 202 builds I narrowed my choices to the more popular options that people reviewed well and had the features I was looking for like m.2, overclocking, USB-C, etc. I settled on the MSI Z270I GAMING PRO CARBON AC Mini ITX as it was in stock and cheaper than the ASUS and ASRock boards I was comparing against.
RAM: I wanted 16 GB of RAM, I wanted it to fit, be fast and stable. I went with the most popular choice among similar builds.
Storage: I knew I wanted an m.2 drive but debated at length whether I should go with NVMe or SATA. With SATA, such as Crucial MX300, I could get more capacity or lower cost but NVMe is super fast. I decided I would pay the premium and get the Samsung 960 EVO. It's so fast that games that give you instructions during the loading screens load too fast for me to read the instructions!
GPU: I wanted a GTX 1080 but I couldn't find anything anywhere near MSRP. While checking prices daily I found the 1070 TI near MSRP on Amazon and ordered it instantly.
PSU: I went with the Corsair SF600 because it was popular with good reviews and most importantly, modular! It's quiet and under idle/low loads the fan doesn't even need to spin.
Case fans: I wanted quiet fans and these fans are definitely quiet under light loads. Under heavy loads the fans do make some noise but not too much in my opinion.
Note: I originally built this in Oct 2017 and got the 1070 TI around Apr 2018. I forgot to post my write up, oops!