Fractal Design Node 804 review

Build an expansive NAS inside this Node.

Choosing the best PC case for your DIY NAS can be a little daunting at first. There are so many PC cases out there, yet so few come with more than a handful of drive bays. Enter the Fractal Design Node 804 with its mightily impressive 10 drive bays. Here’s our in-depth review.

Fractal Design is a staple name in the PC case market. The Swedish brand has been making sleek-looking cases for many years and we’ve only recently taken a look at the Node 804. This is a Mini Tower case designed with storage in mind, making it an ideal candidate for a DIY NAS.

We’re going to take a closer look at the design, features, thermal performance, and how easy it is to build and maintain a NAS inside the Fractal Design Node 804.

Fractal Design Node 804
Fractal Design Node 804. (Source: Fractal Design)

Fractal Design Node 804

The Fractal Design Node 804 is one of the company’s smaller cases with full support for server deployment. You’ve got plenty of hard drive brackets and then some.

  • 10 drive bays
  • 10 fan mounts
  • Radiator support
  • Spacious internals
  • Solid thermal performance
  • Front I/O placement

Fractal Design Node 804: Price and specs

Fractal Design Node 804
Fractal Design Node 804 branding. (Source: NAS Master)

The Fractal Design Node 804 retails for about $125, which is a fair price to pay for a premium setup. The chassis may show its age in areas, being almost a decade old (hence the availability of a CD ROM bay), but it’s still worth considering even in 2022.

SpecificationFractal Design Node 804
Form factorMini Tower
MotherboardMicro ATX, Mini-ITX
Expansion5x PCI
Storage9x 3.5-inch
3x 2.5-inch
I/O2x USB-A 3.0
3.5mm audio
FansFront: 4x 120 mm
Top: 4x 120/140 mm
Rear: 1x 120 mm, 1x 120/140 mm
Radiator supportFront: 2x 240 mm
Top: 1x 240 mm, 1x 280 mm
FiltersFront, top, bottom
ClearancePSU: 260 mm
GPU: 320 mm
CPU: 160 mm
Dimensions344 x 307 x 389 mm
Weight6 kg
MaterialsSteel, plastic
Warranty2 years

The specifications are positive, especially when compared against other PC cases of the same caliber. When it comes to picking a chassis for a DIY NAS build, options are rather limited if one doesn’t want a traditional tower PC.

Fractal Design Node 804: Design and features

Fractal Design Node 804
Inside the Fractal Design Node 804. (Source: NAS Master)

The Swedish case manufacturer is very much like IKEA in the same country. You’ve likely purchased some furniture from the store and noticed how well-packaged everything is. The same goes for the Fractal Design Node 804. It’s protected, but the company doesn’t overdo it.

And this design philosophy is present throughout the PC case itself. After unboxing, it’s immediately apparent just how understated this thing is and that’s by design. NAS — or a server in general — is meant to be hidden away in the back somewhere.

There’s a window present, but it’s an all-black affair with little in the form of styling. Measuring in at just 307 x 344 x 389mm, it’s not the most compact chassis you can purchase, but considering just how much you can cram inside, it’ll still be easy to install somewhere in the home or office.

The front panel has some ventilation and the I/O is located to the right, alongside the power button and cut-out for the slot-loaded ROM drive bay. Ports-wise, it’s not too bad, rocking two USB-A 3.0 ports and two 3.5mm audio jacks. Don’t expect to connect any USB-C devices here.

The opposite side is bare. The front panel itself can be extracted by lightly pulling on it. It’s secured, but thankfully Fractal opted not to use those pesky plugs often found in older (or more affordable cases) that can be a real pain. Two vertical dust filters can be located behind this panel.

It doesn’t need to be removed to clean them out, but you will need to gain access here for managing the SSD bay and fan/radiator mounts. Up to four 120mm fans can be installed up front, as well as up to two 240mm radiators for enhanced cooling capacity.

Fractal Design Node 804
Side inside view of the Fractal Design Node 804. (Source: NAS Master)

The right-side panel is completely bare. So too is the top panel if you were to ignore the fact that there’s a massive section of perforated holes to vent out and exhaust hot air from four 140mm fans. The rear houses the usual I/O slot for the motherboard, as well as a mount for the ATX PSU, but there are two fans located here instead of just one.

This showcases how the inside of the Fractal Design Node 804 is sectioned as we’ll get into shortly. The left-side panel has an acrylic window and underneath the chassis, you’ll locate two additional dust filters. With all fans installed, the case will have negative pressure.

Moving onto the interior of Node 804 and there’s plenty of space to use for building your dream NAS. Like the outer shell of the case, all inside panels and components are painted black for a sleek finish. One section is the usual PC inside affair with the motherboard tray. The other houses the PSU and HDD trays.

Fractal Design Node 804: Building a NAS

Fractal Design Node 804
Fractal Design Node 804. (Source: NAS Master)

Building a NAS inside the Fractal Design Node 804 is just like putting together a PC in any other chassis. It’s not some special server form factor. You can install a motherboard up to a Micro ATX size, and Fractal Design includes pretty much everything you’ll need to install everything.

We used the ASUS TUF Gaming B550M-Plus Wi-Fi for a NAS build using TrueNAS SCALE. For the processor, we’re going all-out with the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, the best of the 5000 AMD Ryzen processors, which should test the case thermals. 32GB of DDR4 RAM is used for maximum performance.

For the CPU cooler, be quiet!’s excellent Shadow Rock 3 is used to keep the processor in check and a total of six fans were installed for use and benchmarking. TrueNAS SCALE was installed on a PCIe 4.0 NVME SSD and we tried out 2.5-inch SSDs as well as 3.5-inch mechanical drives to try out the various supported applications.

The side panels are easy to remove and Fractal Design provides ample space for installing a full-size ATX power supply, as well as up to 10 drives in the two removable drive trays. Once everything is installed and ready to go, making necessary changes to the internals is also a breeze, so long as some cable management is performed.

Fractal Design Node 804: Performance

Fractal Design Node 804
Fractal Design Node 804. (Source: NAS Master)

The performance of the Fractal Design Node 804 is brilliant, regardless of whether you’re using the absolute best processors or one of the most efficient. The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X is capable of running hot and fast with the be quiet! Shadow Rock 3 struggling to keep this power-hungry chip running at full speed.

Since this is a NAS build, we pulled back the processor in the UEFI BIOS by disabling boost and having the chip run a little cooler. There’s not really anything most NAS owners will require such a capable processor for. We certainly don’t recommend buying one for NAS deployment.

Compared to other PC cases, there’s little difference in the performance of this processor. The available fan mounts ensure ample airflow is achieved, even if the front panel is a little restricting.

Fractal Design Node 804: Competition

NZXT H7 Elite
NZXT H7 Elite. (Source: NAS Master)

So, what about competition? Surely there are some other PC cases that are worth considering for a server or NAS build? There are but they’re few and far between when it comes to packing the case full of drives. Fractal Design has the smaller Node 304 if you don’t need as many bays.

The SilverStone DS380B is a great little box that’s very similar to the Fractal Design Node 804. You can install up to 12 3.5-inch drives, making quite the storage machine. If you want something a little more resembling a PC, the Fractal Design Define 7 XL is worth checking out with its insane 18 3.5-inch drive bays!

There are countless server cases out there for cabinets, depending on how much capacity you need with the NAS.

Fractal Design Node 804: Should you buy?

Fractal Design Node 804
Front panel of the Fractal Design Node 804. (Source: NAS Master)

Who should buy this?

  • If you want to build a NAS with lots of HDDs
  • If you plan on using a high-power CPU
  • If you have a disk drive?

Who shouldn’t buy this?

  • If you don’t plan on using so many drives
  • If you want something a little more compact

Fractal Design’s Node 804 is a mid-tower PC case with support for up to 12 drives. That’s plenty of capacity for NAS use, allowing for up to 240TB if using 20TB drives. You’d assume the case would be on the large size, but Fractal Design managed to make good use of the available internal space to keep the dimensions down.

So long as you’re planning to install such an array of hard drives, this case could be the ideal pick. It requires a spot that can handle a case that’s slightly wider than the traditional tower form factor, but once you’ve got it up and running, you’ll have no issues with thermals for the main components or storage drives.

The Fractal Design Node 804 is affordable, has plenty of internal space for numerous fans and drives, and performs well when the system is full and under load. It may be showing its age slightly, but Fractal hasn’t yet seen the need to refresh it and we agree with this stance.

Fractal Design Node 804
Fractal Design Node 804. (Source: Fractal Design)

Fractal Design Node 804

The Fractal Design Node 804 is one of the company’s smaller cases with full support for server deployment. You’ve got plenty of hard drive brackets and then some.

By Richard Edmonds

Richard has been covering the technology industry for more than a decade. He has spent more time tinkering inside a PC chassis than anywhere else, for better or worse.

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