December 9, 2023
Fractal Design North Review |  PCMag

Wooden accents are removed from new within the PC trade, however they’re used so not often that their look nearly seems like new. The wooden slats of Fractal Design’s new North line ($129 for the wood-faced mannequin we examined) added an air of opulence to an bizarre product class, distinguishing it from competing merchandise. Earlier trendsetters have included brushed aluminum surfaces and tempered glass aspect panels, so will different corporations copy the design theme? We hope so, however for now, the North is nearly a stable tower in a category of its personal. If most of what you may see in your laptop is front-facing, it is exhausting to discover a extra distinctive, fashionable panel to indicate the world.

Fractal Design North

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Design: No Wooden!

Talking of themes, the North is offered in black with gold and walnut trim proven, in addition to white with silver and oak trim. Gold (or silver) plating applies to the facility button, headphone and microphone jacks, Sort A (Gen 1) and Sort-C (Gen 2) USB 3.x ports, along with the bands across the ft. Each colour themes can be found on the left with both the client’s alternative of mesh or tempered glass panels.

Front I/O of Fractal Design North

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Mud filtration is offered for entrance and backside panels solely; the second is a slide-out filter that closes the facility provide air consumption. There could also be satisfactory filtration for many builds, as twin 140mm consumption followers hidden behind the sprint will are inclined to push air. outdoors different holes of the case.

PSU mesh filter in Fractal Design North

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Transferring away from the facility provide filter reveals a backplane with a detachable energy provide bracket, a seven-card enlargement card gap made with out splitters to alternatively assist a vertical card bracket, a 120mm fan slot with slotted holes to offer vertical clearance. adjustment and a material pull tab that helps builders take away the highest panel cowl. Additionally notice the six unused mounting holes on the far edge, which we’ll focus on in a number of paragraphs.

The back of Fractal Design North

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

The entrance panel mud filter might be faraway from the again of the entrance panel, which might be faraway from the remainder of the chassis by pulling it out from its backside edge.

Front panel of Fractal Design North

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

The proper aspect panel is an bizarre tinted sheet steel, whereas the left panels can be found in each tempered glass and mesh confronted variants. The knit half is strengthened as proven.

Side panel of Fractal Design North

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Right here it seems like the duvet of the highest panel has been eliminated. It doesn’t have a filter, however many individuals who use fan housings can configure these followers as exhausts.

Fractal Design North's mesh filter

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Underneath the hood is a mount giant sufficient to suit both two 120mm or two 140mm followers of the producer’s alternative. Extra slots that appear to be they will maintain followers aren’t spaced out for any acquainted fan measurement.

The upper frame of Fractal Design North

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Behind the painted metal proper aspect panel is an influence provide tunnel with twin 2.5-inch drive trays, a passive quad-fan PWM powerhouse, a recessed cable loop, and two 3.5-inch drive trays. One of many 3.5-inch bays has a field for the included {hardware} equipment, and all the additional mounting holes seen on the inflated half enable one of many trays to be slid ahead in 1.5-inch increments. The facility provide size might be restricted to 165mm or prolonged to 280mm, relying on the variety of trays put in and their placement.

Fractal Design North with all panels removed

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Additional holes on the backside of the three.5-inch drive trays make them suitable with 2.5-inch drives as properly.

Fractal Design North's hard drive tray

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

The facility provide tunnel is notched on the entrance to assist radiators as much as 1.5 inches thick, which explains why the entrance drive tray might be moved again 1.5 inches (after eradicating the rear drive tray): The usable area is supposedly like mounting the 360mm radiator on the entrance.

Fractal Design North with panels removed

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Constructing with Fractal Design North

One of many 3.5-inch drive trays accommodates a {hardware} equipment with eight #6-32 shoulder screws and rubber washers for dampened mounting of three.5-inch drives, eight #6-32 head screw packages (one spacer) for motherboard set up key pin as an alternative of screw gap), 16 M3 screws to safe 2.5-inch drives, 4 #6-32 hex/Phillips head screws to safe the facility provide, a spare spacer, and 4 ratchet cable ties. The guide is packaged individually outdoors the field.

Fractal Design North hardware kit

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Entrance panel cables embrace an influence change cable, energy LED, HD Audio (for headphone and microphone jacks), a Gen 1 cable for 2 Sort-A ports, and a Gen 2 cable for a single Sort-C USB 3. . To the left of those are the cables for the passive fan hub and the 2 entrance followers; listed below are pass-through connectors to suit two of those plugged into the followers. extra followers. For the reason that fan hub has no energy supply aside from the motherboard’s fan header, installers ought to take into account the output ranking of the fan headers earlier than connecting every thing by the hub.

Front I/O cables from Fractal Design North

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Keep in mind after we talked in regards to the six unused holes within the again panel? These are designed to carry an adjunct fan mount in one among three positions (prime/center/backside) behind the mesh aspect panel. The basket part is deep sufficient to solely maintain common (about 25mm thick) 140mm and 120mm followers, however artful builders who can discover further part clearance might select to mount a radiator on the rear.

Fractal Design North's radiator tray

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Parts particularly offered for these case research embrace Corsair’s iCue H100i RGB Pro XT all-in-one CPU cooler and FSPs Dagger Pro 850W energy supply. The cooler’s twin 120mm followers enable airflow round our motherboard’s CPU voltage regulator, making it supreme for top-panel placement normally, whereas the Dagger Professional’s mixture of SFX enclosure, a PS2 adapter plate, and mid-length energy cables are each compact and let it slot in full measurement circumstances.

The North handbook we acquired would not point out top-mounted liquid cooling radiators, however with 1.25 inches of clearance on the board and about 1.5 inches of horizontal offset from the board for the 120mm fan slots, we could not miss the chance. use our cooler to ventilate the board. If there wasn’t sufficient area right here, our different would in all probability be to mount the identical cooler in the identical exhaust course, on the highest mounting areas of the elective aspect fan bracket.

Fractal Design North with installed components

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

One other factor I seen is that Asus’ full ATX (9.6 inches deep) motherboard suits precisely 1.25 inches behind the inwardly angled cable by holes. Which means whereas this case doesn’t carry the Prolonged ATX (EATX) label, it’ll match outsized (10.6 to 10.8-inch) enthusiast-grade motherboards of the previous.

GPU permission in Fractal Design North

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

The North lacks any lighting options aside from the power-on indicator, which glows pink subsequent to the USB ports on the highest panel, however the lit inside elements are simply seen by the entrance filter layer when considered by the mesh aspect panel or by the wooden grille inserts. . A tempered glass model is offered for builders who wish to give others a clearer view of their inside elements.

Completed Fractal Design North

(Credit score: Thomas Soderstrom)

Testing Fractal Design within the North: Fairly Good Wooden

As a result of a few of our gadgets spherical this information to the closest entire quantity earlier than it’s tabulated, it’s potential for 2 equivalent outcomes to be displayed some extent aside resulting from rounding points. Fractal Design North seems to have the bottom CPU temperatures, however a slight chill within the air reminded us that it may truly be a draw for the primary time.

A CPU temperature graph for Fractal Design North

The variations of about 3 levels are much less apparent: Fractal Design North cools our motherboard’s voltage regulator higher than any case on this comparability set.

A voltage regulator temperature graph for Fractal Design North

Keep in mind what we mentioned a few slight chill within the air? North appears to be the second worst at feeding chilly air to our graphics card, but when it weren’t for potential rounding errors, it may have resulted in an actual draw.

A GPU temporal graph from Fractal Design North

When confronted with the query of how a case can have each one of the best voltage regulator and the second worst GPU temperature in its class, we regarded on the manufacturing unit entrance fan placement simply above the North’s energy provide tunnel and determined it needed to be excellent for the GPU. cooling. We do not like unanswered questions, however do we have to torture ourselves additional, the place one take a look at level clearly outperforms and the opposite performs simply acceptable?

Whereas it is also obtainable with an identical tempered glass panel to its rivals, the Northern model we examined has a mesh left aspect that leaks sound as simply as air. When heard from the alternative aspect, the case sounds equally noisy to its rivals.

Fractal Design North's sound pressure test chart

The mesh model is a bit noisy on the one hand, and we did not have the chance to check the tempered glass model, however after we examine the low CPU and chipset temperatures with the traditional stage, we will say that the North performs solidly. noise radiating from the alternative aspect.

Verdict: “Timmmmm…ber!” We are saying.

Ignore the entrance and the North is a reasonably typical fashionable PC case in cage or glass aspect panel variants. Different highlights are good, but it surely’s the wooden slat half that basically units this case aside. Efficiency is about par because it often is, apart from the GPU thermal take a look at we did. However that is likely to be too delicate for a case like this; The aesthetic is the true promoting level.

The mix of connectors and inside options places the North firmly within the $120 worth bracket, leaving patrons to determine whether or not the $129 MSRP of a walnut or oak veneer is well worth the $10. it positively takes ours vote. Why do not you attempt one final phrase recreation?

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