Overall we are in a bit of a quandary regarding the Fractal Design Node 605. It's a stylish chassis with a solid build. It does offer a lot of interior space, and a flexible lay-out. You can fit a full ATX motherboard, a full ATX power supply, and a fairly large graphics card. It makes it a great solution for an allround HTPC that can also handle a demanding video game. However, the question remains how useful it actually is to use ATX-sized components. Yes, you can install multiple tuners and hard disks, but if you are going to do that, a home server would be a more interesting option for many. See also: Fractal Design Define R4 review: refined silence.
While the home theather PC is under siege by increasingly smart settop boxes and media players, it remains the best solution for being able to effortlessly watch television and any other type of digital video material. The number of HTPC chassis hasn't really grown much lately, but Fractal Design has come up with another option with the Node 605.
The Node 605 was announced at Computex earlier this year, but our test lab didn't receive a sample until now. Despite the modest dimensions of this chassis, it is supposed to be able to hold a full ATX motherboard, a standard ATX power supply and four hard drives. Graphics cards that are larger than normal should also fit, and you can even add an optical slimline station.
Lots of computer in very little space, in other words. This positions the Node 605 against various Silverstone products. It's priced a little higher than those, at around £115. That's not very cheap for a chassis with a volume of not even 25 litres, especially when it's not entirely in aluminium. Fractal Design will have to pull out all the stops to justify that price tag.
Hardware.Info compared the Fractal Design Node 605 with three other HTPC chassis and one cube from Xigmatek. The Fractal Design one is by far the most expensive, but it has very similar dimensions. It measures 44.5 cm x 34.6 cm x 16.2 cm with a volume of almost 25 dm³. The width is slightly wider than the average 43 cm of hifi components. The chassis weighs about 6 kg.
The Fractal Design Node 605 looks good, with its sleek black design. The front panel is constructed out of nice and thick (8 mm) aluminium, with a cover at the bottom. When it's closed, all you see is the power button. The rest of the chassis is made in steel.
Behind the cover there are two USB 3.0 ports, audio in and out, and a Firewire port. It's rare to still see those in this day and age, but not entirely out of place on an HTPC since it means you can connect an older digital camcorder. Another positive surprise is the memory card reader, which supports CompactFlash, microSD and standard SD.
On the right side there is a small switch for the fan controller, and the external features end there. The back is pretty basic as well. There are seven slots for expansion cards. While you can fit a full ATX motherboard in the Node 605, you do sacrifice the space for the slimline optical drive. There are no features for adding water cooling. One thing that's absent which we would have liked to see on chassis of this price level, is thumb screws. Or a screwless technique for opening the case would have been even better.
The interior of the Fractal Design Node 605 has a well-organised lay-out. You do need a screw driver again. In order to install the motherboard, you first have to remove the two hard disk cages and the support beam that rins from front to back. The components are attached with small, non-standard screws. On the hand one it looks nice and clean, but installing components is a bit labour-intensive this way. Adding to the stylish look is the trademark combination of white components in a black chassis.
You can read the rest of this review on Hardware.Info.