To open the Node 304 we remove four screws from the back panel and the sides/top lift off. In the main chamber we then see the two 92mm Fractal Design (hydraulic bearing) fans which are installed at the factory (1300RPM). The hard drive bays, allowing installation of six 3.5/2.5" devices are the three white metal sections which sit in front of the intake fans and these feature rubber vibration dampeners. A black support bar which runs down the centre is removable for ease of install and there is a power cable which takes the mains input and runs it to the PSU location along with three wires for the fan controller and standard case wiring.
Installation of a system in the Node 304 is reasonably logical. We remove the hard drive supports and top bar from the case (9 screws in total) and then add our motherboard standoffs before screwing the board in place (Mini-ITX or DTX). At this point we also add the PSU again screwing in place. For those who are installing a longer graphics card one of the drive bays may not fit, reducing the drive capability to four 2.5/3.5" devices and we would recommend installing HDs from the right side towards the left side to leave a maximum amount of room for wiring… a modular PSU would help also.
As noted before 310mm cards are supported (provided the PSU is shorter than 160mm) and the case will also accept tower coolers of up to 165mm.
In our case we went with a Core i5-3330 CPU (Noctua NH-L12 cooler), 2x4GB of DDR3, GeForce GTX 670 GPU and 500GB SATA drive.
We went with the stock fans and high fan speed for our test, which actually was very quiet thanks to the high quality Fractal fans in this chassis. With high fan speed, something we would recommend with a discrete GPU and more powerful CPU, the case temperatures were very good for such a compact chassis. Those using an integrated GPU and i3 CPU for HTPC use should find that low fan speed is more than adequate in this case.
There was a time a few years ago that Hi-Fi/AMP like HTPC cases were everywhere. That has changed a bit in recent times due to some excellent m-ATX boards allowing builds in compact chassis however there is still something about the home theatre component style of design which can be appealing...