Fractal Design Core 1000 MicroATX HTPC
In our previous looks at Fractal Design (the Define R3 ATX chassis, the Define Mini Micro-ATX Chassis, and just recently the Core 3000) cases they have demonstrated a favor for solid, stylish chassis that consistently deliver without the flashing lights and other "bling" often found on other enclosures that offer the same space and flexibility. As we have seen, there are many different options offered by Fractal Design. The Fractal Design Core 1000 is the flavor of today’s review. The Core series brings together a combination of design, features, cooling performance, and value. Is this going to be your next HTPC case? The Fractal Design Core 1000 uses the micro ATX chassis very effectively with multiple cooling options. You have a case that give you maximum flow of air but keeps the size small to put beside your TV for a sleek and stylish look.
The Fractal Design Core 1000 is designed to take a full length 350mm video card with the help of some creative hard drive storage and its vertical mounting. The front fan has a pre-fitted filter to give you the pleasure of dust-free operating. One 120mm fan is included up front to pull air into the enclosure, but if more ventilation is required; two more, a 92mm (rear) and a 120mm (side panel) can also be added.
Steel and Plastic
Mini ITX and Micro ATX
2 x 5.25
1 x 5.25 > 3.5 adaptor included
2 x 3.5 or 3 x 2.5
Or 1 x 3.5 and 1 x 2.5
1 front mounted 120mm fan @ 1200rpm
1 rear 92mm fan
1 side 120mm
4 expansion slots
Support for graphics cards at 210 mm when using both HDD slots
Support for graphics cards at 350 mm only when using top HDD slot
Front I/O Ports
2x USB 2.0 and Audio I/O – mounted on side of front panel
ASUS M4A88T-M LE AM3 AMD 880G HDMI MicroATX
ASUS F1A75-M FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
AMD Phenom II X3 730 Black Edition Heka 2.8Ghz 95W
AMD A6-3650 Llano 2.6GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU AMD Radeon HD 6530D
Thermaltake A44022 92mm
Stock AMD FAN
G.SKILL NS 4GB 2x2GB DDR3 1333
G.SKILL NS 8GB 4x2GB DDR3 1333
ASUS Radeon HD 6570 1GB 128-bit
No Add-on GPU
Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB 7200RPM 6.0Gb/s 3.5”
Samsung DVD-RW Drive
COOLER MASTER GX Series RS650-ACAAE3-US 650W 80 PLUS Certified
Windows 7 Ultimate
PACKAGING & HARDWARE
The case came with three zip ties, a set of screws, and a manual with options for different hard drives. There isn’t floppy drive support on this case. The front fan on this case is covered with a filter so all the air getting sucked in is clean and no dust collects inside the unit.
With a elegant, brushed-metal look the case is very similar to the Fractal Design Arc Midi Mid Tower. Its size makes for a better HTPC however, as it could easily fit under the TV if your tastes and requirements demand a larger chassis. The filter, as mentioned earlier, almost looks like a charcoal filter found on many air purifier. The USB ports and power button are situated on the middle, right side of the case. This is different than most cases if the Core 1000 will see use as a HTPC case then you would have to have it on its left side under your TV or standing upright because it is not possible to access the buttons when the chassis is laid on its right side. This could cause a problem because the case is not designed to hold the weight of the motherboard. The lights for both the hard drive and the power are also placed in this same location which makes it impossible to see the lights or use the power and reset buttons. There is plenty of air flow in the case but there is a little space in the case for cable management. Looking for locations to store the cables and keep them out of the way of the air flow will make you use the supplied three zip ties. When you are installing your items make sure you are planning for wire location or at least keep it in mind.
Looking at the case from the outside, I was worried that after opening it up it would be a tight fit and thus working inside of it would be more difficult. However, this was not so - there is plenty of space to maneuver as well as room for larger cards. Noting if you are going to use a large 350mm video card you will have to remove the vertical HDD-bay and only have one HDD installed. I was able to get the motherboard installed, into place, and moved on to the power supply within about ten minutes. Once the power supply slid in, debating using the screws that came with the case for the power supply (black) or the ones that came with the power supply (silver) (I went with the black ones). I was then able to move on to the hard drive and DVD burner. I put in a motherboard with a built-in video card but I decided to use a higher-end motherboard in the build to test and show spacing. I did build two separate test machines with different motherboards and one without the extra video card. The case does have some port holes to help with the cable management and does have a small space behind the tray to store some unused cables. I was able to get most of them out of the way by zip ties and creative tucking, to keep the space open for air flow. I found all components very easy to install.
For the performance test, I ran the machine at idle (just open to the desktop) for 15 minutes and then ran Prime 95 In-Place FFT test, FurMark at 1080p, and PassMark Advanced Disk Test in Workstation mode for load testing the CPU, GPU, and HDD, respectively. I used the fan control to turn all exhaust fans up to full speed, let the motherboard control the CPU fan, and let the GPU control its fan.
I went with just one hard drive in this build because it is just being used as a media streamer and nothing of much importance is stored on this computer, I am using the space for temporary movie storage, which is backed up. I wanted to test out the processor in the computer and the video card so I installed Battlefield 3 and put it through its paces. The processor and the stock CPU fan worked great and didn’t show any heat issues, which will be discussed in more detail later.
Like I stated above and in the numbers below, there is obviously great air flow in this Core 1000. I had plenty of room to put in other hard drives from broken computers and never seemed to have any heat issues with the stock units, even when I was maxing out the components on the highly competitive game of BF3 (where I lost by a lot and didn’t even come close to a victory).
I am very pleased with the Fractal Design Core 1000. I love the size and the filter on the front help me to see how much dust is being prevented from collecting inside the case. I would recommend this case to anyone looking for a smaller case that they would like to store on its side, instead of upright. The buttons are conveniently located in most scenarios. It is big enough to install a full-size video card or store hard drives but not at the same time. It is very quiet and it is hard to tell it is even on. However, if you needed to store it on its side, then it would render the side fan obsolete if you installed one.
· Small and fits under the TV either upright or on the side.
· The filter in the front keeps it clean inside
· Enough room for larger PC parts or extra drives
· Stock fans are very quiet and keep it cool
· MSRP under $40
· Did I say great airflow yet?
· Mesh front makes it stand out as a PC
· Only lays on bottom and left side
· Laying on the left side is not supported technically
Special thanks to Fractal Design for providing the review unit.