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Building a Fractal Design Node 304 HTPC... will this work?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for your input thus far regarding this great little case. I did a litte research on the net before finding this thread and figured this would possibly be the best place to ask if what I'm thinking of doing makes any sense.
I posted this over in the Node 304 thread but figured I'd ask here as well in case somebody's not looking there (since it's not the "normal" spot for questions0.

At present, I'm running a Fractal Design R3 case with an extra front fan. It's a basic AMD A6-3670K setup with 4GB of RAM (single stick), a Cooler Master Hyper 212+ CPU cooler and an ADATA 120GB SSD as the main boot drive. For media in the system, I'm running 3x4TB Hitachi 5400RPM drives and a 1x3TB Hitachi 5400RPM. I've got a Seasonic X-560 modular PSW in this (again, overkill, but I like the fact that it never really has to run the fan as it's passive 99% of the time when I use it). That was part of the deciding factor when I bought it (and because the drives run unbacked up, I wanted something that I could count on not being a "data killer."

The "wife factor" is always a big part of my decisions. When I bought the R3 and put it together, my better half was like, "Man, is that thing huge?" She's gotten used to it because she understands air-flow is important to keeping the drives running cool. Now, there's the Fractal Design Node 304 case that's been released and I love the size of it. The R3 sits in my condo living room on the floor next to the media stand I have and I think the 304 would look a lot nicer on an A/V shelf.

Initially, I wanted to stick with AMD but noticed two things: AMD m-itx with more than 4 internal sata connectors (I need 5) and that the newer Intel offerings run cooler. I like ASUS (have never failed me) so I'm sticking with them after finding a board that fits the bill.

No gaming or anything else (other than HD audio playback and HD video playback) occur with this system. Not planning to overclock anything as I don't really need to.

My biggest curiosity is how cool are drives running for others who have a similar setup? Under Hard Disk Sentinel Pro 4.20, my drive temperatures never run above 36C (and this is usually when the suns beaming in as I face south or other people on lower floors are running heat). On my current ASUS setup, I have the fans set to LOW/AUTO and run the case fans at about 2/3 on the adjustable dial with the R3. [this question may be better answered in the Node 304 thead]

To recap, I plan to pull the following from my current system:

PSU: Seasonic X-560
HDD1: Hitachi 3TB 5400 RPM
HDD2: Hitachi 4TB 5400 RPM
HDD3: Hitachi 4TB 5400 RPM
HDD4: Hitachi 4TB 5400 RPM
SSD: ADATA S510 [works fine for my application]

And I plan to purchase the following:

Case: Fractal Design Node 304
MB: ASUS P8H77-I Deluxe
CPU: Intel i3-3225 [was originally thinking the i3-3220T as it's cooler but I know the 3225 has HD4000 for IGP]
VIDEO: ON BOARD
RAM: 2x4GB (whatever is decent and cheap at the time of purchase)

I've done a little more digging and found a recently announced FM2 board that might make me build this as an AMD box instead of an Intel one.

I came across the ASRock FM2A85X-ITX board and it appears as though the VRM fire issue is no-longer. I won't be overclocking, anyhow, so with (8) SATA III 6GB/s ports, this is a nice little board. I'll also likely pick up the AMD A10-5700 since it runs cooler than the A10-5800K. With the room in the box, I'll likely add the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO as a cooler (I've used a 212+ in my last two builds and it keeps things cool and quiet).


I've read that the 24p issue has more or less been fixed. I had an old Clarkdale i3 which drove me nuts and ended up putting in a Radeon 6450HD video card because it was _that bad_.

Does anybody have any thoughts on this potential move?
Edited by adrianf - 2/5/13 at 6:32am

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post #2 of 4
Hi,

I don't have one of these cases but I wouldn't worry too much about HDD temps. In fact I remember reading some google research on a load of collected S.M.A.R.T parameters that cold drives actually had a higher failure rate to warm drives! Can't find the original article but it seems to be well summarised here: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Minimizing_Hard_Disk_Drive_Failure_and_Data_Loss/Environmental_Control
Seems counter-intuitive but if you think about the thermal processes involved you will introduce thermal stress cycles by constantly heating and cooling the drive so I can see compelling arguments why it may be better to let the drive get to and maintain a constant temperature. Heat related magnetic effects don't come into play until several hundred degrees so that's not going to be an issue.

Also, for media tasks, your HDDs are hardly going to be used anyway and I'd not be surprised to see them spin down most of the time which will keep the power use down.

Processor wise, you know you can't overclock an i3 and that includes adjusting the memory speed? Therefore any overclocking features of the motherboard are essentially wasted. The board you've chosen looks decent though and if you wanted to drop an i5 in there later on you'll be well set. The stock CPU coolers on the i3 are tiny and pretty quiet

I would keep in mind a dedicated GPU for your rig. You can get passively cooled cards such as a GT640 (http://www.asus.com/Graphics_Cards/GT640DCSL2GD3/) which would be silent of course and give you perfect 24p (and 23.976Hz) playback. I'd try the onboard first though and upgrade if you find it lacking but I've heard mixed reports about their ability to handle smooth 24p playback. I was quite impressed with the onboard iGPU of an i3 rig I built for my mum a few months back so it may be able to cope with HD content fine. If you ever plan to use linux for your media centre OS then an nvidia card is the way to go.

You wont need 8GB for a media PC - 2GB is plenty but its so cheap now anyway I suppose you may as well go for it! Even though your i3 won't be able to run the memory at 1600MHz (PC3-12800) its cheaper than the slower memory for your processor! Your faster ram will just run slower and again, if you go for an i5 in the future, it will be all set for faster speeds.

Looks like a nice build and I do like those Fractal Node cases.

Have fun
 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel Core i7 3820 P9X79 PRO Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI 
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Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI Samsung  Corsair Force 3 Samsung BD-ROM drive 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC Raystorm Full Copper block Phobia 150mm silver nickel reservior EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ Alphacool 140.3 UT60 Nexxxos Radiator Alphacool 140.3 UT60 Nexxxos Radiator 12x Noctua NF-A14 PWM fans on rads 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
EK D5 Vario X-top EK D5 Vario X-top Win 7 Pro x64 Dell U2713H 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Razer Lycosa ECGA SUperNova G2 1300W Caselabs TH10 Razer Lachesis 
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Razer eXactMat NI Komplete Audio NAD C320 Stereo Amplifier 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i7 920 d0 Asus rampage ii gene Asus GTX 480 Corsair xms3 ddr3 2000 c9 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
OCZ Vertex 3 Samsung 2.5" notebook drive Samsung DVD-R drive Noctua 120 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
Noctua 120 Noctua 140 Noctua 140 Win7 x64 pro 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Mythbuntu 12.04.1 Panasonic 46" Plasma HDTV Apple Aluminium Keyboard  corsair hx650 
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Fractal R1 Apple Mighty Mouse Sony STR-DH800 Amp via HDMI in 5.0 speaker conf... Mordaunt Short 905 Centre, 902 front and 904 re... 
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Xbox wireless controller dongle 
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core 2 quad q6600 Asus P5K-E XFX 9800 GT Geil DDR2 4x1GB @ 1066 MHz  
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Seagate Baraccuda Samsung HDD Seagate Baraccuda WD Caviar Black 
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Seagate Baraccuda Samsung DVD-RW Thermalright CPU cooler Mythbuntu 12.04.1 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel Core i7 3820 P9X79 PRO Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveOptical Drive
Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI Samsung  Corsair Force 3 Samsung BD-ROM drive 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC Raystorm Full Copper block Phobia 150mm silver nickel reservior EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
EK-FC780 GTX Ti - Nickel Original CSQ Alphacool 140.3 UT60 Nexxxos Radiator Alphacool 140.3 UT60 Nexxxos Radiator 12x Noctua NF-A14 PWM fans on rads 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
EK D5 Vario X-top EK D5 Vario X-top Win 7 Pro x64 Dell U2713H 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Razer Lycosa ECGA SUperNova G2 1300W Caselabs TH10 Razer Lachesis 
Mouse PadAudioAudio
Razer eXactMat NI Komplete Audio NAD C320 Stereo Amplifier 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Core i7 920 d0 Asus rampage ii gene Asus GTX 480 Corsair xms3 ddr3 2000 c9 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
OCZ Vertex 3 Samsung 2.5" notebook drive Samsung DVD-R drive Noctua 120 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
Noctua 120 Noctua 140 Noctua 140 Win7 x64 pro 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Mythbuntu 12.04.1 Panasonic 46" Plasma HDTV Apple Aluminium Keyboard  corsair hx650 
CaseMouseAudioAudio
Fractal R1 Apple Mighty Mouse Sony STR-DH800 Amp via HDMI in 5.0 speaker conf... Mordaunt Short 905 Centre, 902 front and 904 re... 
Other
Xbox wireless controller dongle 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
core 2 quad q6600 Asus P5K-E XFX 9800 GT Geil DDR2 4x1GB @ 1066 MHz  
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
Seagate Baraccuda Samsung HDD Seagate Baraccuda WD Caviar Black 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Seagate Baraccuda Samsung DVD-RW Thermalright CPU cooler Mythbuntu 12.04.1 
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post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Thanks Pharcycle for your thoughts on this build.

My only concern with HDD temps stems from my days with the first or second generation WD Green Drives. I had 5 of 8 fail over the time that I owned them (SMART status showed health of one drive at less than 20% when I installed HD Sentinel Pro). Suffice to say, I've found that by keeping my drives in the low-to-mid 30's, they've seemed to be more stable (that and I moved to the Hitachi drives which seem to run cooler overall -- the last drive I purchased runs about 1-2c higher than the others.

The drives will generally spin down when in use, however, I am concerned about running too many drives in a tight space so that's why I went with the R3 (and the R4 and the Node 304 weren't available at the time). smile.gif

For the HTPC buiild, I won't be overclocking but it doesn't mean I don't want to buy choice quality components. After doing a little more research, it seemed to make more sense to gravitate towards an AMD build (again). The issue that pushed me towards an Intel build was the inability to find an ITX board that supported more than (4) sata devices (I could find up to 6 with various Intel boards) until two days ago when I came across a newly announced AsRock FM2 board which supports up to (8) SATA 6 devices at 6GB/s (even though most of my devices won't use that bandwidth).

I'm proposing to change the motherboard to the ASRock FM2A85X-ITX and the processor to an AMD A10-5700. As a result, I'm also going to add in a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO as a CPU cooler because I have room and it will help push the air through the box. The Node 304 seems to have better airflow (from what I've read) than the R3 case did so I'm "less" concerned than I initially was. By moving to the A10 processor, I can skip adding in a secondary card (generating more heat). I'm also aware of the FM2A75 AsRock "fire" issue. Apparently it looks as though the VRM issue is resolved on the FM2A85 boards but I won't be overclocking and then with running the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO, this should also help cool the CPU area.
post #4 of 4
There is more then enough air flow in the Node 304, as long as you plug in the fans you are going to be A OK biggrin.gif
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