Fractal Design Core 500 Mini-ITX Chassis Review



/ 5 months ago

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Introduction


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Fractal Design have a long history of creating high-end, very high-quality products, but in recent years they’ve also turned their attention to a more consumer friendly end of the market, with more affordable, yet still very stylish and well-made products, such as the Core 500 we have in the eTeknix office today.

“The Core 500 is the perfect PC case for those looking for a small, compact chassis that lets you build your computer without compromising on component selection.”

Designed for mini-ITX motherboards, but still offering support for a large GPU, a standard ATX PSU and more, the Core 500 is bound to appeal to those wanting a compact workstation or gaming system. With prices around £50 here in the UK, it’s also going to appeal to those who don’t have a huge amount of money to spend on their chassis, leaving more of the budget to focus on better performing internal components.

Key features

  • Brushed aluminum-look front panel with a sleek, three-dimensional textured finish
  • Very compact case with a volume of only 19.5 liters
  • Extremely good water cooling support for its size, supporting radiators up to 280mm long
  • Smart drive bay placement allows you to fit up to three 3.5″drives, three 2.5″ and one 5.25″ drive simultaneously
  • Supports Mini-ITX motherboards, ATX power supplies and graphics cards up to 310mm in length
  • Supports tall CPU cooler towers, up to 170mm in height
  • Featuring a Fractal Design Silent Series R3 140mm rear exhaust fan for great cooling
  • Big magnetic filters for the side and top air intake together with a PSU filter ensures a dust free interior

There’s certainly enough room for some high-end hardware in this chassis, with ample drive mounts, a 5.25″ bay and more.

Specifications

Mini ITX, Mini DTX motherboard compatibility; NOTE: motherboards with SATA ports that are angled 90 degrees may conflict with installation in the case.
2 expansion slots
3 – 3.5″ HDD positions
3 – 2.5″ dedicated SSD/HDD unit positions
1 – 5.25″ bay (removable)
CPU coolers up to 170mm in height
ATX PSUs, up to 170mm in length (non modular PSUs); ATX PSUs, up to 160mm in length (modular PSUs)
Graphics cards up to 310 mm in length (note: graphics cards longer than 170 mm will not fit with PSUs that exceed 170 mm)
Colours available: Black
Case volume: 19.5 liters
Case dimensions (WxHxD): 250 x 203 x 367 mm
Case dimensions – with feet/screws/protrusions: 250 x 213 x 380 mm
Net weight: 4.4 kg
Package dimensions (WxHxD): 285 x 335 x 450 mm
Package weight: 5.3 kg

What’s interesting is that while the chassis does come fitted with an R3 fan in the back, you can still add more fans to the top, and even a decent size AIO cooler.

  • Rear: 1 – 120/140 mm fan (included is 1 Fractal Design Silent Series R3 fan, 1000 RPM speed)
  • Top: 2 – 120/140 mm fan (not included)
  • Water cooling compatibility (note: not compatible with AIO water cooler units that feature the pump on the radiator):
    • Top – 280, 240, 140 and 120 mm radiators. (Thickness limitation of 100 mm for both radiator + fan) (240 and 280 mm radiators require removal of the ODD bay) (280mm radiator can be maximum 325mm in length)
    • Rear – 120 mm radiator (not compatible with the rear 3.5″ HDD position)
  • Dust filters: Magnetic filters on side and top panel, PSU filter

First impressions of the chassis are positive, as it has a really good weight to it, feels pretty solid and as is always the case for Fractal Design products, it has a flawless black paint job and matching black plastic trim.

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There’s a huge strip of ventilation down the left side, perfect for airflow to your graphics card, and there’s a little more ventilation on the right side, which is where your PSU will exhaust, as the PSU is mounted towards the front of the chassis.DSC_5878

The front panel is fairly straight forward, with the 5.25″ drive bay at the top. Not a lot of people use the 5.25″ drive these days, but it’s still nice to have one, especially on a chassis that’s likely to end up under your TV. There’s some ventilation towards the front, with a vertical strip on the left and right edges, which are angled to break up what would otherwise be a bland and boxey design.

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The front I/O has all the basics, with two USB ports for you flash pens, controllers or Wi-Fi dongle, as well as easily accessed audio jacks for your headset.

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Around the back, you’ll see there are four thumb screws holding the single piece left, top and right side panel component in place. The power cable pass-through is in the bottom left, which leads through to the PSU mount at the front edge of the chassis. There’s a high-quality 140mm fan pre-installed, which is certainly a welcome addition, but there are optional 120mm mounts there if you need them. Finally, we have a pair of expansion slots which come fitted with reusable ventilated metal covers.

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On the base, a slide out dust filter for the PSU, as well as four durable feel with anti-vibration/slip rubber washers on the bottom.

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