Finally free from my potato of a laptop thanks to my first computer build! I needed a new computer with my laptop slowing to a crawl over my last two semesters of college. Originally I was simply looking to build a decent 1080p computer for around $700 but as I learned more about computers and discovered SFF builds, I decided to focus on value and function.
I settled on the 2600 pretty early as I was originally trying to build a pc on the cheap and always felt like it was the best value for my money even with the 3600 on the market. The AXP-100 was actually a last minute swap from the Noctua NH-L9a due to a higher TDP. I wanted a cooler that could handle more heat if I decided to put a hotter 3000 or 4000 series cpu in the Node 202. The cooler and fan do fit but the dust filter had to be removed. I was missing thermal paste from the cooler so I grabbed some TM30 since time was limited. I chose the ASUS B450-I ITX after reading negative reviews for all other popular B450 itx boards. I wanted reliability, quality, practicality, and a user-friendly BIOS interface and ASUS seemed to check those boxes better than the other options. I chose the ram because it was low clearance and simple. I do have trouble getting it to 3200 MHz but it isn't officially supported and all other 3200 supported ram was too tall. I wanted fast storage and the price per Gb of Intel's 660p was a hard offer to refuse. Coming from a HDD, any SSD is a vast improvement for me.
I chose the Node 202 because I wanted something that I could fit into an entertainment console or put on a desk and it not stick out like a sore thumb or scream gamer. The power supply was chosen to give a little more head room, have better power efficiency, and make cable management a little easier than the optional included PSU. The GPU was a little tricky for me. I was first interested in the 1660ti, then the RX590, then I learned about the benefits of using a blower in a SFF case and settled on the FE 1070 for it's used price and value.
Important notes: -The Amd stealth cooler does not fit on this motherboard. The AMD logo doesn't clear the ram or the motherboard heat sink. -The AXP-100 is a tight fit with the ram with about 1mm to spare so take care to give it as much clearance as possible. Other than that it fits fine. -The EVGA SuperNOVA cables are very stiff and thick, limiting cable manage options.
Performance: After about a week, I have been very happy with the computer. It was very easy to take to Florida and has done well in benchmarks and stress tests. It is not the fastest computer but coming from my 6 year old laptop with almost 3 years of on time, it is a huge improvement. I've tested Firestrike, Time Spy, Prime95, and Heaven Extreme 1080p. Firestrike usually scores around 13,100; Time Spy scores 5,100; and Heaven scores 2260. These three were all using default clocks for the cpu and gpu. I also ran a temperature test with Heaven extreme and Prime95 running simultaneously and temps maxed out at 77C for the cpu and 74C for the gpu while the fans were about 32 decibels from 3 feet away. The cpu also ran steadily at 3.85 GHz during the test and the gpu averaged just over 1.8 GHz.
Excellent thermals with a Ryzen 5 2600. Max temp of 77C running Prime95 in the Node 202. Solid construction and difficult to bend fins out of shape. Tight ram clearances. Very quiet fan.
Relatively easy to work with in an itx case. BIOS is pretty straight forward and if you're a first time builder the manual will walk you through just about everything you could need to know. No low profile RAM options at 3200 though but for everything else this board does well, I can't dock a star for it.
Runs pretty well with a Ryzen 5 2600. Has trouble now and then pushing past 3000MHz but that's my fault for not checking compatibility beforehand. Low profile, good heat sinks, and clean aesthetics.
Not the fastest MVME out there but one of the best priced per gigabyte. Still very fast and doesn't get too hot with a heatsink. Large enough to store a fair amount of games and greatly reduces time spent in those pesky loading screens. Restarting a game or the system to apply changed settings or finish installation happens within seconds.
Bought used and it still runs wonderfully. Is powerful enough to run many, many games at 1080p and ultra settings with exceptions to some of the most graphics demanding games and resource hungry skyrim mods. Blower works great in Node 202 keeping case temps low and rarely exceeding 75 C.
Very clean and unassuming appearance. Keeping things cool is not difficult in either orientation so long as you add a beefy cpu cooler and you choose a blower style gpu. Not the easiest case to cable manage in but at least the spots that you can pack the extra cable lengths into are not visible with the case assembled. I did manage to fit a 60mm cooler into the case without the dust filter. The fan bezel would have been against the case if it weren't for the screws holding down the fan so make sure that your cpu fan is sunk into a bezel even if just slightly to avoid rubbing.
Cable lengths are just about right for the Node 202 but the thickness and stiffness of them makes it hard to clean them up in the case. Runs quiet and supplies power without problem. Again, stiff cables for a psu designed for sff computers just adds another challenge to the building process.