Installation and Testing
Save for the slim-line optical drive and HDD bays this was a fairly standard build, though a bit on the cramped side. Thanks largely to Fractal Design's compact Integra R2 power supply and a short video card, dealing with the front I/O panel and motherboard power cables was not nearly the headache that it easily might have been. There was just enough room to bundle up the spare power supply leads between the video card and hard drive bays to avoid any cable-on-fan interaction, which brings up another point. Because this is a case will rest in the same orientation that it is built in, you need not worry about anything shifting around after you bolt the lid on and get it ready to use. Power cables aside, the USB 3.0 cable is a bit too long for this case. There is a good eight inches of cable to cover the mere 4 inch space between the front interface wire harness and the motherboard USB 3.0 header. This does give a little leeway for strange USB 3.0 header locations though. What could be ideal for this situation would be to have a cable with a 90 degree bend immediately before the connector, or a 90 degree header adaptor (which would first need to be invented and/or made commercially available).
Now on to my less proud moment of the Node 605 build. Had I not been such a numpty (and read the instructions), dealing with the slim optical drive and mounting brackets would have been slightly less frustrating. Believing my college-educated engineer mind to be up to the task of steamrolling through this build without supplementary instruction, I began by fastening the ODD brackets in from the top (contrary to Fractal's directions). Needless to say things didn't get any easier. Had I done things properly, I would have began by attaching the brackets to the sides of the slim ODD with two microscopic philips head screws per side, followed by positioning the assembly over the 4 mounting holes and driving the final four self-tapping screws up from the bottom. Then, instead of taking out and replacing the fan half a dozen times or so to deal with cable management, I could have surveyed the situation and done everything in one go; thus avoiding the massive bother that it ended up being. The moral of this story is: read the manufacturer's instructions and have a look at the whole wiring arrangement before trying to make everything look nice. Granted, despite my efforts it did end up being quite crowded in the case after all was fastened down and plugged in.
Since the only part of this PC that will be seen by anyone other than yourself is the aluminium front face, the level of effort you want to put into cable management is entirely up to you, with airflow being the primary motivator.
|CPU:||Intel Core i5-3570K LGA1155|
|GPU:||EVGA GE Force GT 640|
|Motherboard:||Asus P8 Z77-M Pro mATX|
|Memory:||Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB DDR3|
|PSU:||Fractal Design Integra R2 750W|
|SSD:||OCZ Agility 3 60Gb|
|Optical Drive:||Panasonic UJ240 Slim Blu-Ray|
With all of the little pieces now in place, it was time for the initial boot-up. First there was the "beep" (a good sign), followed shortly by the starting "whoosh" of the CPU cooler which quickly tapered off (another good sign), and then... nothing. The heavy gauge steel of the case, the masive brick of aluminium and the ultra-quiet Silent Series R2 fans (they really do live up to their name) and the swatch of noise dampening material have made for the ultimate ninja HTPC case. The only audible noise is directly behind each of the fans, and even that is a most-delicate whisper of "noise." In a cabinet, it'll be just as loud as your loudest passively-cooled receiver... silent.