I've been wanting to do a build in the Node 202 for the longest time, and an opportunity finally presented itself. The girlfriend's been having laptop issues for a while now, and I finally convinced her to get a PC. Pretty entry-level build, mostly focused on longevity, small footprint, and a couple of personal touches.
The Node 202 was a no-brainer for this build. Not only have I been wanting to build in it, but the final setup is very space constrained (a standard desk mat is 2 inches wider than the desk itself). Inside it went the ASRock H270M-ITX/ac board, mainly chosen for its connectivity. The tiny board packs a ton of USB3 ports on the back, as well as dual gigabit ports and built-in WiFi. The G4400 was a pretty safe choice for a processor, and 16GB of Ripjaws should handle the girlfriend's Chrome tab addiction no problem. Cooling the CPU was an L9i with a Noiseblocker fan, which impressed me with its mounting hardware. The GPU choice ended up changing a few times during the build. Originally, I was going to put my old 980Ti in there, but I ended up trading it for an Asus 1060 Dual and some cash. The card ended up not fitting (the shroud interfered with the GPU I/O area on the Node), so I sold that card and bought an MSI 1050 to fit the color scheme (which was based on the extra cable sleeving I had around, plus the cheapest DDR4 RAM at the time). The PSU here was definitely overkill, but it was originally picked to handle the 980Ti, and at a later date I can see myself upgrading this PC to house something beefier. All the cables for it were built from the ground up, using Teleios sleeve and components from Mainframe Customs (still haven't hopped on the MDPC-X bandwagon :P). Last component was a Mushkin SSD which fit perfectly between the PSU and the dividing wall in the Node 202, so I ditched the 202's SSD mount and drilled a few mounting holes. Bonus was that it covered up the PSU connections, which tidied up the cables even further.
The build experience overall was different, but not overly challenging. Fractal Design did a great job making this case easy to work in, with removable brackets for the GPU assembly and the PSU. Custom cables are an absolute must for anyone working in this case, everything is much tidier and cleaner even without sleeve (I ended up leaving the 24-pin as just bare wire). I used a few neat tricks for cable management in this case, like running the front panel audio under the PCIe riser card and routing the USB3 cable over the 8-pin and 24-pin cables to keep them trained. Plenty of cable-tie points in this case as well, overall really happy with the Node and would gladly do a build in it again. I'm also really impressed with the Noiseblocker fan mounting, the rubber anti-vibration mounting is stellar. This build was also my first time decorating with stickers, which I'm content with, but it's not something I'd do for too many builds. Overall, a great first build in the Node 202, 10/10 would build again.
Brilliant board, enough connectivity for any build.
Superbly designed case, easy to work in with removable panels and brackets. Custom cables are a must for a clean build, though!
Rubber mounting pieces are wonderful, and the screw/nut combination makes it easy to use on both a heatsink and as a case fan.