Fractal Design gave us an early gift this month by offering a stylishly-designed CPU case. In our Fractal Design North Review, we will discuss this mid-sized ATX PC case with aesthetics inspired by a Scandinavian style.
The case features bespoke details, a fusing design, plus airflow engineering to make it an excellent chassis. It also has other notable features, functions, and more that we will discuss later in this Fractal Design North Review.
Fractal Design North Packaging
Our package arrived in a simple cardboard box with the chassis name and company branding. There is not much on the box since the company wants us to focus on the product inside. However, it does come with a little sticker indicating the colour and variant you purchased.
Upon opening the package, the first thing to see is the front part of the case. Do not worry since the product has a plastic sheet for added protection. Plus, foam spacers hold the chassis in place along its edges.
Other than the North case, you will also find an accessory box inside the package. The latter contains zip ties, an assortment of screws, and a user manual.
Since we have the mesh version for this review, our box came with a fan bracket accessory box.
Fractal Design North Review – Design and Functionality
In this part of our Fractal Design North Review, we will focus on the design and functions of the chassis.
Out of the box, the North will immediately impress you with an entirely new design. It has nothing in common with the current Fractal Design enclosures, which makes it unique.
The soft curves and wooden elements offer a warm visual appeal. And while there are some plastic parts, these are wrapped in steel, so the plastic is not too visible.
In front, you will find natural wood strips, which is the highlight of this case. But these strips are not only for aesthetics since Fractal Design managed to keep them functional too.
You can remove the plastic panel to display two 140mm, retail-grade Aspect fans to pull air into the product.
Another unique aspect of the North case is the Mesh variant that gives you a perforated side panel. You can utilise it with the fan mounting bracket.
Design-wise, the company did excellently by reinforcing it to avoid flexing. However, keep in mind that its support frame shows at the top and bottom edges.
On the opposite side, you will find a solid panel fixed in place by thumb screws.
The rear panel of the North has a conventional layout with the PSU at the bottom. Fractal Design kept this area open as possible to allow more airflow. There is also a leather pull tab to remove the top panel.
You will notice the PSU bay has a mounting frame, which allows you to slide the PSU from the back. Above it are seven expansion slots with protective covers.
Also, the air vent works as a mounting location for the screws. These elongated cutouts offer flexibility when installing a cooler.
The top panel of the North is removable and has a leather pull tab to detach it easily. When removing the top panel, you need to use this tab along with the one on the back panel.
The underside has a dust filter to prevent dirt and grime from entering the PSU. You can pull this out from the back for easy cleaning.
To access the interior of the North, detach the thumb screws that hold each panel in place. You can remove the solid piece towards the front by loosening a thumb screw. Doing this will allow more access to the interior of the chassis.
The white variant of this PC case has a gunmetal grey interior. It has a steel shroud featuring a large opening in front, while the bottom edge has small cable routing cutouts. The vent above the PSU offers flexibility to install the power supply fan facing upward.
You will also find a mounting position for a 3.5-inch HDD slot on the ceiling of the shroud. At the rear of the motherboard tray are well-placed large hooks for cable management.
Underneath the cooler cutout, the bracket is a tray for two 2.5-inch drives with a thumb screw. Fractal Design also added three Velcro strips and pre-routed the case wiring. Plus, the North has a PWM fan hub for powering and controlling up to four units with one motherboard header.
You will find three more drive trays in front, and two are compatible with 3.5-inch drives. Above these are the two pre-installed 140mm fans, but you can replace them with three 120mm fans. Another option is to use a 360mm liquid cooler.
You will find the PSU bay underneath the shroud in the rear. It has a simple layout featuring foam pads for the PSU.
Above it, you will see seven expansion slots. Fractal Design employed thumb screws to hold the covers. You can use horizontal GPU mounting brackets since there are no divisions between the expansion slots in the chassis frame.
The topmost portion of the North has a vent/fan mount. If you look closely, you will see the hooks for cable management, which allow you to have a neat build.
Fractal Design placed the fan/liquid cooling in the ceiling, far from the motherboard. There is also a 35mm clearance limit for the memory or heatsink.
Key Features of the Fractal Design North
What makes the North a better case than the competition? Let us find out as we discuss the key features in our Fractal Design North Review.
The North has three front USB ports, and one is a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C connector. It supports fast charging and up to 10 Gbps transfer speeds.
Ready for Gaming
This chassis is compatible with ATX, mATX, and ITX motherboards and has seven bridgeless expansion slots for flexible customisation. It also has room for a 240mm radiator in the top portion and 360mm in front.
Additionally, the PC case offers room for GPUs measuring up to 355mm, even with front fans installed. Using a front radiator will allow you to utilise a 300mm GPU.
Easy Access to Your Components
Removing the side panels of the North is easy and painless. All you need to do is unclip the front and pop the top cover off with the built-in tab. This design is ideal for PC builders who often swap components.
Natural Design of the Fractal Design North
The unique aesthetic of the North gives your gaming station a touch of sophistication. Its appearance integrates into your living space effortlessly.
The open front and stylish integrated mesh top panel allow for natural ventilation. The mesh variant has a full mesh side panel to allow more airflow in the chassis.
Flexible Storage Options
Fractal Design packed two combined 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drive mounts and two dedicated 2.5-inch drive mounts.
Versatile Building with the Fractal Design North
The intuitive interior layout of the North offers a new and better PC building experience. You can also install up to six 120mm or four 140mm fans. With the fan hub and fan bracket (mesh variant), you can choose from two more fan positions.
We will discuss the product specifications of this mid-tower case in our Fractal Design North Review.
The product consists of materials like plastic, wood, and steel. It has 7+2 slots, three internal 2.5/3.5-inch drive bays, and two internal 2.5-inch ones.
The North CPU case is spacious, thus, can accommodate mini-ITX, ATX, and micro-ATX form factors. Dimensions-wise, it measures 447 x 215 x 469mm and weighs 7.6kg.
You can utilise three 120/or two 140mm front fans. However, the company included two Aspect 140mm PWMs in the package. Its rear fan is optional, but you can use a 120mm fan whenever necessary.
Additionally, there is space for two side fans measuring 120/140mm.
The case can accommodate 360/280mm radiators for the front and 120mm for the rear. On the top, you can slip in a 240mm radiator with a total RAM height of 360mm.
You can also use a side radiator measuring 360 or 240mm. Plus, the product has a PWM fan hub fan/LED controller.
Compatibility-wise, it works with a 170mm CPU cooler or a 145mm cooler with a fan bracket. The product works with a 355mm or 300mm GPU with a 360mm front-mounted radiator. And lastly, the North is compatible with a 255mm PSU or a 155mm with two HDD trays.
Hands-on with the Fractal Design North
This part of our Fractal Design North Review is where we get hands-on with the case. Before we discuss how well (or not) it performed, we will share our experience building a PC with the North.
Installing a motherboard in the case was classic since we utilised screws and spacers. Its slightly-angled, grommet-covered openings lined up nicely with the board, which also applies to the shroud opening.
Even if the North is slightly short, we did not experience issues installing our GPUs. It was straightforward adding an SSD since we only had to mount it to its tray via screws. Once done, we slid the tray back into the motherboard slot.
The drives were set into place using screws, and the company offers rubber rings for other variants to prevent vibration. You can install two trays beside each other, plus a third one suspended from its shroud ceiling.
Before adding the PSU, we screwed the frame and then slid it into the case through its rear. There was ample room unless we used the HDD cage mounting position close to the PSU bay. This positioning cut the space to a mere 155mm, which can be too tight for some units.
Routing the cables behind the motherboard tray was easy since there was about 11 to 25mm of space. So, we were able to install an ATX motherboard without issues.
The rear has large hooks for its zip ties, so we were able to make a clean setup. However, we would have appreciated it more if the company included a few more zip ties out of the box.
With everything installed, the North offered us a clean interior with a premium aesthetic.
We used the default fan setup for this case and connected it to the motherboard. The latter adjusted the fan speed automatically, which was very convenient.
Before doing our stress test, we ensured the case was idle until its temperature reached equilibrium. Its result for each part of the product was the highest value measured during the tests.
On idle, the CPU was 25C and GPU was 6C. On load, the CPU had a temperature of 64C and GPU was 76C.
Fractal Design North Review Summary
Our first impressions of the North were good. We were fascinated by the unique design and its use of natural materials for the front panel.
This aesthetic made this chassis stand out from the competition. Plus, it has all the necessary features like flexible storage options, additional room for cooling, etc.
During our product tests for this Fractal Design North Review, we enjoyed building a PC with the chassis. Thanks to its layout and features, we had no problems installing components and fans. We also appreciate Fractal Design for including two Aspect 14 PWM fans.
The North is an outstanding chassis that offers form and function. Aside from a good PC building experience, it can keep the temperatures of components within acceptable levels. We highly recommend this product due to its excellent design, functions, and performance.