Reviewed: Fractal Design Core 500

We make every effort to undertake a practical build inside any case that we review – it’s our belief that we don’t really fully appreciate the design and build quality unless we have actually built a rig in it and used it for a period of time. In this review, we used 3 different motherboards (MSI Z170I, Gigabyte Z170N Gaming 5 and the Gigabyte Z97N Gaming 5 from our Fragabyte build. This level of testing is unusual but was due to us testing the Z170 boards and needing a good chassis to work with quickly.

MSI Z170I Gaming AC Build

This build was our first dance with the Core 500 and it went together really quickly despite regular stops for photos. We didn’t use an intake fan for this build and the temperatures remained what we would consider normal. Ideally, you should ‘feed’ your case some air but in this example, we found that you can get away without an additional case fan as a dedicated intake.

The specifications are below

  • i5-6600K
  • MSI Z170I Gaming AC 
  • Kingston HyperX Savage DDR4 3000 (2x8GB)
  • Noctua NH-U12S
  • AMD R9 Nano
  • Samsung Evo 840 240GB SSD
  • 1TB 7200RPM Samsung HDD
  • Fractal Design Integra-M 650W PSU

Gigabyte Z170N Gaming 5

This was basically the same as the MSI Z170 build but we used a smaller cooler and had to disassemble the previous build. This was a good simulation of what an upgrade might be like and it didn’t take long to swap out the motherboard and cooler. The only fiddly thing that we noticed was the access to the 24-pin power connector and that it was tight to open the release latch on the cable header to remove it from the motherboard power slot. It is worth noting however, that this is no different than the Fractal Design Node 304 and a necessary evil for cases where the PSU is mounted next to the motherboard in this way.

  • i5-6600K
  • Gigabyte Z170N Gaming 5
  • Kingston HyperX Savage DDR4 3000 (2x8GB)
  • Noctua NH-U9S
  • AMD R9 Nano & MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G
  • Samsung Evo 840 240GB SSD
  • 1TB 7200RPM Samsung HDD
  • Fractal Design Integra-M 650W PSU

Also note that we tested the MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G graphics card for sizing and noise / airflow. There were no issues with temperatures when using a larger card despite our decision to use the smaller 92mm CPU cooler and the deliberate omission of a dedicated intake fan.

Fragabyte Relocation

We previously built a high end ‘consolesque’ build as a concept for Respawn LAN. After working with the Core 500, I wanted to move the system into the more versatile case, install a better CPU cooler and apply a moderate overclock to our i5-4670K. For good measure, I also wanted to use as many SATA devices as the Gigabyte Z97N Gaming 5 motherboard would allow, which is 5. This was the practical build that I wanted to do from the start as it involved the most components.

I also installed a Noctua iPPC NF-A14 140mm fan as the rear exhaust and a Noctua iPPC NF-F12 as the top mounted intake fan to generate some active air flow to move the heat from the overclocked CPU.

  • i5-4670K @4.4GHz
  • Gigabyte Z97N Gaming 5 
  • ADATA XPG V1 DDR3
  • Noctua NH-U14S
  • AMD R9 Nano
  • ADATA SX930 480GB SSD
  • Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD
  • 1TB 2.5″ WD Blue SSHD
  • 1TB 7200RPM Samsung HDD
  • 6TB WD Green HDD
  • Fractal Design Integra-M 650W PSU

This build was awesome. The overclock temps remained under 80C, the fans operated at a perfectly acceptable audible level under load but almost silently at idle and performance was not compromised at all. This was the LAN rig that I’d been dreaming of for a while in that it had the high end components, the small form factor, excessive storage and a decent noise/thermal profile.

 

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