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Review: Fractal Design Core 500

by Parm Mann on 9 October 2015, 15:30

Tags: Fractal Design

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacu73

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Specification and Test Methodology

Fractal Design Core 500 Specification

Motherboard Compatibility Mini-ITX
Expansion Slots 2
3.5in Drive Bays 3
2.5in Drive Bays 3
5.25in Drive Bays 1
I/O Ports 2x USB 3.0
Audio in/out
Power button with LED (white)
HDD activity LED (white)
Reset button
CPU Cooler Support up to 170mm
ATX PSU Support up to 170mm
Graphics Card Support up to 310mm
Case Volume 19.5l
Case Dimensions 250mm x 213mm x 380mm
Net Weight 4.4kg
Cooling System
Rear 1x 120/140mm fan (140mm Silent Series R3 fan included)
Top 2x 120/140mm fan
Water Cooling Compatibility Top - 280, 240, 140 or 120mm radiator (thickness limitation of 100 mm for both radiator + fan).
Rear - 120mm radiator

Comparison Chassis

Chassis Form Factor HEXUS Review Reviewed Price Product Page
Fractal Design Core 500 Mini-ITX October 2015 £50 Fractal-design.com
Fractal Design Node 202 HTPC July 2015 £115 Fractal-design.com

HEXUS Mini-ITX Test Bench

Hardware Components HEXUS Review Product Page
Processor Intel Pentium G3258 and reference cooler June 2014 Intel.com
Motherboard MSI Z97I Gaming AC - MSI.com
Memory 16GB Adata XPG (2x8GB) DDR3 @ 1,600MHz - Adata.com
Graphics Card MSI Radeon R9 270X Gaming 2G June 2014 MSI.com
Power Supply be quiet! Straight Power 10 (500W) - Bequiet.com
Storage Device 120GB Corsair Force Series 3 SSD June 2011 Corsair.com
Monitor Philips Brilliance 4K Ultra HD LED (288P6LJEB/00) - Philips.co.uk
Operating system Windows 8.1 (64-bit) October 2012 Microsoft.com

Test Methodology

We're starting our mini-ITX chassis benchmarks from scratch and begin with a straightforward two-way comparison between Fractal Design's Node 202 and Core 500. It'll be interesting to see how the Cube form factor compares to a HTPC solution and we expect to see a noticeable improvement in terms of cooling performance.

Putting recent components to the test, our Z97 test platform now consists of an MSI Z97I Gaming AC motherboard, an Intel Pentium G3258 processor with reference cooler, 16GB of Adata XPG DDR3 memory and an MSI Radeon R9 270X Gaming 2G graphics card.

To find out how well the chassis can cool this particular setup, we log CPU temperature while encoding a large 4K video clip. This task puts full load on all available CPU cores and in order to provide a stabilised reading we then calculate an average temperature across all cores from the last five minutes of encoding.

To get an idea of graphics-card cooling performance, we log GPU temperature while playing Aliens vs. Predator at a 1080p resolution with maximum quality settings. Last but not least, we also measure chassis noise by using a PCE-318 noise meter to take readings when idle and while gaming.

All chassis are tested only with the standard manufacturer-supplied fans (any/all of which are set to 'default' in the MSI BIOS or low-speed using a fan controller if present), and to take into account the fluctuating ambient temperature, our graphs depict both actual and delta temperature - the latter is the actual CPU/GPU temperature minus the ambient. For the record, the ambient temperature while testing Fractal Design's Core 500 was recorded as 19.6ºC.