Description

The beginning story of this build can be found here

Short history: Being a notebook noble for a while and planning to build an epic gaming/workstation PC for a while, I was struck with hardware failure unexpectedly. So I have started to plan building myself a PC which would (should and will) keep my sanity safe. Thus, the Soulsaver was born.

These were the objectives/aims for me (not really in any order): Budget around 500€ Potential for using as HTPC in the future. With second objective in mind, component re-usability as much as possible. Capable of some gaming on old 1280x1024 panel.

I have been recommended (in the post linked above) pretty nice builds. Most of them where with quite awesome gaming capabilities (with GTX 960 and GTX 950). I was eying Fractal Design Node 202 for a while, as it looked super sleek, small and full featured case. So I have decided to go for a slightly more expensive case, ditch dedicated graphics card (at least for now) . This way I will be able to have superbly awesome HTPC case later on.

I will write about individual parts later on in parts' reviews. One thing I want to point out: Node 202 lists compatible power supplies as SFX up to 130mm in length. It is absolutely true. Even probably you could fit slightly longer. Just cable management space between PSU and 2.5" drive bracket is extremely small. I have managed to tuck all my cables just between PSU and drive bracket and in a small gap between PSU and mobo. The only cable I am not happy (obviously) is ATX 24-pin... But case closes perfectly with some pressure cable training :D

You can check the photos with some measurements. The measuring tape has only centimeters, I had no other measurement tape, do apologize for fellows with affiliation to imperial system. If there is any angle or measurement to check out, feel free to post in comments or PM me.

And now it is running in full speed (even though a moderate one). I love it. Super silent. Games which I wanted to play (for my sanity), runs perfectly even on 1080p (tried on borrowed monitor) reaching 60fps easily. I've tried CS:GO, Heroes of the Storm, Left 4 Dead 2. I know, those are quite old games. I am not planning to kill this machine with anything more recent, at least not until I get a dGPU inside it. It's gonna be enough.

Temperatures measured with HWMonitor 1.28.0. Ambient temperature was 22°C.

Although this was my first full computer build ever (from ground up) and first tinkering with a desktop PC after 5 years, it was hell of a fun, full of excitement and I loved it. Although SFF cases are not the best thing to start or restart your computer building experience, I was up for a challenge, I loved it and would do it again!

Part Reviews

CPU

Way more than I was expecting. All the common tasks are easy for it. Integrated graphics (Intel HD 530) was more than I was expecting, too, crunching through CS:GO, Heroes of the storm and other similar games easily at 50-60fps even on 1080p.

Motherboard

At first I was planning to buy the same motherboard just with H170 chipset. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) in my country H170 variant was just ~10€ cheaper, so there was no point in buying it. All the features I wanted: couple of SATA3, M.2 slot on the back (for now I am not gonna use it), although only one 4-pin CPU power connector, not gonna extremely overclock in HTPC case anyways...

Memory

As good as any. Love the look and feel of the heat sinks. Will probably use the same brand/product in the future.

Storage

Well... I was reckless about this one... When I had all the parts in the shopping cart, I decided to pick up a SSD, too. Well, it is ok. As in, any SSD is better than any HDD (for system drives). But having in mind that just for extra 10€ or so I could have picked up similarly sized 850 EVO... Nothing can do about it at the moment. In any case, if I would not know about better options, I would be extremely happy about speed of this drive.

Storage

Bought it some time ago. Largest at that time (and I think at the moment, too) 2.5" 9mm HDD . Was looking for a laptop. Works as expected, although sometimes emitting high pitched sound (I would say mechanical/electronical, not really like a warning beep). Performance is ok, no problems with corruption or lock ups, so I didn't care that much.

Case

Very nice case. Period.

Super small, minimalistic, sleek and clean. Full of features and versatile. Of course, not that spacious inside.

Although states that it supports SFX up to 130mm, I have installed one and it is REALLY small amount of space left for cables.

Would I buy another one? Of course.

Power Supply

Even though there were no Node 202's with power supplies in my country, I would have bought the version without one. So that I could fit this one in. With current build, the PSU have never ever yet powered up it's fan (which means, I do not really know if it works...).

Is this PSU overkill for current system? YES, I KNOW!

Will it be overkill after dGPU installed? Nope.

Why not Integra M? Could not acquire in my country and I am willing to sacrifice something for higher efficiency.

Keyboard

Keyboard (K520): Awesome! Key switches are not perfect, but I am not yet spoiled by mechanical ones. Probably will be eventually. Bought this keyboard a long time ago, haven't replaced batteries yet.

Mouse (M310): Hoped to replace my M235 which had expired warranty and faulty middle-click. Same happened with this one couple of months after the purchase. Did not want to deal with retail RMA, so living with that. Tried to wash the middle button with isopropyl alcohol, did help for a while. Probably will have to do it again.

Comments

  • 47 months ago
  • 1 point

Great HTPC build, man! I really love it! +1

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

How was putting the SATA connectors on the MOBO? And how consistent is the wi-fi? I've heard it's difficult to mount the drives in there since the SATA cables are straight on most PSU's and they stick out horizontally on the mobo

  • 44 months ago
  • 1 point

I am not using wi-fi that much at home, but when I brought my pc to my friends place I had no issues. Although Bluetooth (same module on the motherboard) is really powerful and can keep up the signal through walls easily.

There are six SATA ports on mobo. Four (integrated with sata express) on the side (pointing towards PSU when in the case) and two directly on the motherboard point upwards. At first I was using the ones pointing upward because mobo came only with straight SATA data cables. I bought couple inversed right angled SATA data cables from local computer store several days later and just used those. It was way more difficulty to fit those in when motherboard was already in. Using tweezers for positioning and flat-head screwdriver for pushing helped.

In general, with that long PSU there is exteremly limited space for cables. The SATA power cable that came with PSU is right angled, so there was not much of a trouble for me fitting it. Just excess of cables in general. I could take some close up photos of the drives/cables later when I get back.

  • 23 months ago
  • 1 point

Wow, I can't believe you got that PSU to fit in there with the SSD enclosure still attached! I have the same case and power supply for my HTPC, and I took the SSD enclosure out to make room for the PSU cables. Your cable management is nuts! What kind of upgrades are you thinking about making to this build in the future?

  • 23 months ago
  • 2 points

Well, this is quite an old build and a lot of stuff have happened since.

  • put in gtx 1070 along with acer x34 (yes, i know)
  • put in two corairs sp120 and then replaced with ml120 later. No difference between those two
  • finally built my main rig, whole soulsaver went into storage.
  • sold gtx 1070. Stupidly enough when they were low in price...
  • repurposed as a home nas/server
  • bought 2x 3.5" hdds with a dream to fit those in gpu compartment. Kept dreaming.
  • bought case replacement and replaced all hardware from soulsaver to Bitfenix Phenom mITX
  • Node 202 case now is empty and waits for tomorrow in storage.