If we look at the list of specifications here, we can see that there are really good options for cooling. The options for mounting fans and radiators mean that there are good options for versatile setups. We take a closer look at how well it all lands.
A tour around Fractal Design North
Fractal Design has historically made quite subdued but functional cases. The North cabinet largely lives up to that history, but adds new elements that make it stand out.
Most obvious from the start is the front, which is made with real wood, which helps to give a special design. It is a look that falls very well in line with the trend of the time, with wood paneling in the home.
Fractal Design North comes in four variants. There is an option for a left side in either tempered glass or mesh. Both variants are available in black versions, with walnut wood on the front, or white with oak wood.
We have received the black Mesh variant for testing.
The immediate shape of the cabinet is somewhat reminiscent of the Define series of cabinets for which Fractal Design became known. However, there are slightly more rounded shapes, and then of course the more open front with the wooden panel.
The cabinet is made of steel, and this is also what the mesh material on the left side is made of. The mesh part runs on the side and continues up the top panel. It helps to create a coherent and slightly different look.
The mesh part on the side and top also does not go all the way to the front of the cab net. So there is a division between the two parts.
The right side is a regular steel panel without openings. Both side panels and the top can be easily removed to access the interior of the cabinet. Although the mesh side does not run the entire length of the side, the small panel in the front can also be removed so that you can open up the entire side.
There are no dust filters on the sides or at the top. Here, the mesh openings must function as a dust filter.
The front can also be pulled off to give access to the front-mounted fans. There are two Aspect 140 mm PWM fans for the North cabinet, which are mounted in the front as standard. Both have the option of connecting in a daisy chain.
The front of the North cabinet is quite open and provides good opportunities for good airflow. On the back of the front panel there is a dust filter which can be easily removed and cleaned.
There is another dust filter at the bottom of the case, below the power supply location.
With all the panels peeled off, we can see the slots for fans, which are distributed between the front and top. There is room at the top for two 120mm or 140mm fans or up to a 240mm radiator. In the front, there is room for two 140mm or three 120mm fans or equivalent radiators.
At the back there is the option of a single 120mm fan. As a small bonus, Fractal Design mentions that an extra 80mm fan can be mounted on the PCIe shields.
Unfortunately, there are no removable brackets for mounting fans or radiators.
As a special option for the Mesh version of the North, there is an extra accessory in the form of a fan bracket that can be mounted on the left side behind the mesh side. It can be mounted in three different ways, top, bottom or middle.
With that bracket, you can utilize the mesh side, and get room for two more 120mm or 140mm fans, which can draw air in or out in the area right around the graphics card and CPU.
If we look at the back of the cabinet, we can see that there is plenty of room for cable routing with 30mm space in the front part and 19mm in the back part. There are good options for getting the cables under control, with several Velcro straps and points where you can tie the cables down with strips.
The cable entries for the front part of the cabinet have good rubber entries that can help to ensure a proper look.
At the top we find a small PWM fan hub with space for four fans.
There is a removable bracket with space for two 2.5” SSDs or hard drives on the wall for the motherboard.
At the bottom of the cabinet there are two slides with space for both 3.5" and 2.5" storage solutions. Both parts can be mounted in the same slide. Two are included for North, but there is the option of mounting a total of three. So if all the spaces are used, three 3.5" hard drives and five 2.5" hard drives or SSDs can be installed.
The slides can be mounted in different ways in the chamber at the bottom of the cabinet. However, you must be aware that the space will depend on which power supply you use.
At the top we find a USB C port, two USB A, along with a power button and audio jack. Buttons and connectors are in brass, which goes really well with the other details on the cabinet, such as the walnut wood.
Overall, the Fractal Design North cabinet is a functional and beautiful cabinet, with good details and a nice design.
Installation of Hardware
Despite being an ATX case on the more compact end, when the panels are peeled off, there is plenty of room to work in the Fractal Design North.
This meant that fitting a full ATX system into the case was no problem. There was even room for an MSI RTX 4080 Suprim graphics card, which is certainly not a small card.
So there is plenty of room to mount a high end system in Fractal Design North if you wish. With a graphics card of the size I'm testing here, there wasn't much space in the front. There would be no room to mount an AIO solution there.
However, there was still plenty of space at the top if you wanted to mount it here instead. In my test setup, however, I used a Noctua air cooler instead.
However, this meant that I would not be able to use the extra bracket for mounting the fan on the side. Here, the height of the Noctua cooler would simply be in the way.
So if you plan to use it, you just have to double check the hardware you intend to use.
All in all, it was quick to get the system in place, and there was plenty of space in most places in the cabinet. If you want to have one or more 3.5" mechanical hard drives mounted in the lower chamber, it may well end up being a little more cramped.
I also found that the feed-throughs on the bottom of the case, for things like front connections, USB, etc., were quite cramped with an ATX motherboard. The holes were located right next to the connectors I needed, which meant that it was difficult to get the cables up and bent into place.
However, I solved it by running the cables up the hole in the front of the cabinet, so there was an easy solution. It just meant that the cable routing was a bit longer.
Since Fractal Design North is brand new on the market, at the time of writing I cannot find a price from a store as usual. Fractal Design itself states the price at approximately DKK 1,300.
With North, Fractal Design has grasped the Nordic design style. It's a beautiful case with good details that make it stand out in the sea of RGB gaming monsters on the market.
Personally, I think it's a breath of fresh air, as I can easily get fed up with RGB, bling and lire.
However, the subdued style does not mean that Fractal Design has compromised with the possibilities of assembling a powerful system in North.
There are good and flexible options with the selection of fan and radiator locations. The option to add two more fans, with the bracket to the side of the Mesh variant of North, is also super good to see.
Installing hardware presented no problems, and with the possibility of good cooling and graphics cards up to 355 mm in length, even high-end hardware is possible. The massive MSI RTX 4080 Suprim card proves that a lot can be squeezed into the otherwise rather compact North cabinet.
You might be in a bit of a pinch if you were to build an over the top custom water cooled system. However, with a little creativity and the right parts, it won't be impossible.
Fractal Design North is a beautiful and functional case that stands out, but still has plenty of options.
We land with a final grade of 9 and a Great Product Award.