Joined on 10/28/09
2 Years Later I Still Love This Case!
Pros: I love the form-factor of this case, and while I was skeptical of µATX I didn't have any reason to not give it a shot. Between the Gigabyte and Asus, I went with the Z97 Gryphon because I was more likely to want Thunderbolt than m2. Having the drives caged on the other side allows for great management of temperatures on the disks, and the Hot Zone on the left has great airflow and allows the interior fans to sufficiently keep a handle on temperature when I export a large video for encoding in Handbrake, or my GPU is getting heavily used from a game. This case isn't as quiet as my Fractal Design Define R3, but I wasn't going for silent on this workstation. Adding an AIO water cooler to the CPU was trivial in this case, there are several places to orient a radiator so I had options. Since I went with an enclosed contained system I was limited to the length of tubing they built it for and I was glad this case could work with those constraints. I like that there is room for a slot-loading optical drive in this case and I thought I'd want to use one but I've never actually bothered — I have a USB 3 external BD-RW that I use when I need to, but most of my backup happens over the network anymore. It's well built, looks great, and is very stable and secure on a desktop. Hardly much chance to tip this thing over since it's a squat cube!
Cons: I'd rather have a window-less panel on the motherboard side. The window is easily smudged and hard to keep clean if you ever open it up, so it's a bit of an eyesore most of the time. The audio and LED connections for the front of the case may be a very short trip to your motherboard — when I fiddle with the SATA cables in the front for two SSDs I consistently knock the LEDs out of position and have to very carefully set them with the door almost mounted; it is an inconvenience at best, a design error at worst.
Overall Review: There aren't a lot of cases like this one on the market. There is the Corsair, though I found that design to be far too aggressive and Honda Civic for my taste. The Node 802 is understated and unusual and easy to work in when you need to get under the hood. I'd absolutely buy it again and hope Fractal Design continues to incrementally improve this form-factor.