Introducing the Fractal Design Core 1000

Extreme budget enclosures are interesting creatures. While the best balancing acts usually show up around the $100 price point, and going north of $150 will generally get you the best of everything, hanging out at $60 or lower means having to make a lot of sacrifices and lose a lot of niceties. For some users that's not a big deal; they just want a box to put their computer in.

Fractal Design has been making a lot of waves with their lineup of minimalistic but effective enclosures, but most of those kits have been $80 or more. Today we have their Core 1000, a fascinating-looking case that retails for just $39.99. Does it bring the same magic to this end of the market that Fractal Design has brought with their other efforts, or has too much been left on the cutting room floor?

The Core 1000 has been out for a little while, but I first had a chance to lay eyes and hands on it back at CES 2012 and I definitely came away feeling curious about it. Top-mounted power supplies may have gone out of fashion for the most part, but designs like this one that feature a single substantial intake fan in the front and blow straight through the components and out the back (such as SilverStone's Temjin TJ08-E) are capable of producing a tremendous amount of thermal and acoustic efficiency.

There's also the fact that the Core 1000 is, frankly, way smaller than it loooks in photos. This is a Micro-ATX enclosure to be sure, and you're going to see in a moment just how "micro" that really is. We'll begin as usual with the specifications overview.

Fractal Design Core 1000 Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Micro ATX
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25” (includes adaptor plate and cage for 3.5"-to-5.25")
Internal 2x 3.5"/2.5" OR 3x 2.5"
Cooling Front 1x 120mm intake
Rear 1x 92mm fan mount
Top -
Side 1x 120mm fan mount
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 4
I/O Port 2x USB 2.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size Standard ATX
Clearances HSF 150 mm
PSU 180 mm
GPU 8.5" / 210mm
Weight 9 lbs.
4.1 kg
Dimensions 6.9" x 14" x 16.5"
175mm x 355mm x 420mm
Special Features Silicone grommets for drive cage
Adaptor plate and cage for mounting a 3.5" drive in a 5.25" bay
Price $39

When you're dealing with such a low price point, a lot of the trimmings have to go by the wayside. For the Core 1000, that primarily means sacrificing USB 3.0 connectivity. Where Fractal Design went a different route with the Core 1000 than most other budget enclosures was by including removable expansion slot brackets instead of just having them twist and snap out of the case, making allowances for mounting 3.5" kit in a 5.25" bay, and including silicone grommets to dampen mechanical drive noise. There were sacrifices made in the process, though, and I'm not entirely sure they were worth it.

In and Around the Fractal Design Core 1000
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  • Meaker10 - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Also once you reach much higher end (gaming wise) you will probably have a large single drive + SSDs or even just SSDs that take a single slot and sit them in an optical bay. Reply
  • Spivonious - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Agreed with all but the hard drive comment.

    Unless you're shooting for overclocking records, the stock cooler that comes with Intel's chips is more than enough, is quiet, and is very short.

    Most people building a mATX PC are going to use the onboard graphics, or at most a $100-level video card.

    Hard drives are always welcome though. Most start with one or two and then add as they need more space instead of replacing older drives with newer larger ones. Personally, I have 5 drives in my C2D build that I've acquired over the past six years. I appreciate a case that makes room for them.
    Reply
  • dave1_nyc - Sunday, April 15, 2012 - link

    I wanted to start this with "Do you really find the Intel stock cooler quiet?", but obviously you do or wouldn't have said so, and 'quiet' is in the ear of the beholder. And to be fair, it's free and given how little fin space it has, it works well. But.. maybe I'm just sensitive to the pitch or timbre of the sound, but I hate it.

    I recently built a file server and decided to go all the way down to an Intel G530. (And tangentially, I've been amazed at how capable it is; far more so than I had expected.)

    But I lived with the stock cooler only for about 2 days, and then replaced it with an $18-with-rebate CM Hyper 212 Plus. I know it seems silly to use a cooler that's almost half the cost of the CPU, but it's great: the CM is so understressed that the fan turns about 700 rpm most of the time and I can't hear it at all. Very nice.
    Reply
  • Belard - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Yep... Empty Optical bays are made for storing cables and such. :)

    This case is no worse than the typical Dell / HP / Acer budget systems which are quite small, designed to hold 2 optical drives and 2 3.5" drives, nothing more.
    Reply
  • zero2dash - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    It's arguably the nicest most feature rich case in that price range that is a small tower. Obviously you could get a BitFenix Outlaw or a Three Hundred for a little more but those are midtowers, not SFF towers.

    How many hard drives are people really filling up their PC's with that aren't servers?
    I have 2 drives in my Define R3, 1 drive in a Three Hundred, and 1 drive in a CM Elite 341.
    I really don't get the whole "8 3.5" HD bays" mentality that people have these days. If you're running a server (and it's not a rack), you're probably buying a large midtower or a full tower.

    No one with 8 HD's is going to put together a SFF, at least not without being sorely mistaken as to what they can and can't do.

    Also on the thermal performance....I'm assuming that all case reviews are done with stock cooling only and compared that way? I know it's somewhat of a given here but I would expect that if you added the side fan that the spot is there for, the internal thermals would be better on this case. Then again, those thermals would also be better with more fans added to the 1100 as well though, so the point is somewhat moot (but worth mentioning anyway).
    Reply
  • Casper42 - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    I disagree with your statement about the drives. There is a middle ground and I'm right smack in the middle of it.

    I have a mATX Case and board but I have 5 SATA devices in use.
    1 Optical 5.25
    1 SSD 2.5
    3 HDD 3.5

    So while I don't need 8 drive bays, 4 would have certainly been great.

    On the flip side, I still dont see why cases need to have more than 2 5.25 bays and in mATX why would you need more than 1?
    Reply
  • Pappnaas - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    http://www.aerocool.com.tw/index.php/products/27-p...

    Has a spot for a 120 Fan in the back, but no front USB 3.0. Might not be available in the us, didn't check.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    This has front USB 3.0 ports and looks like a nice case:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    I prefer the Antec 300 cases myself - have 3 of tmem at my house.
    Reply
  • zero2dash - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Almost identical to the CM Elite 341 I have.
    Nice thing about the 341 is the front CM badge is removable. :)
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    From the review: "There's nowhere to mount a fan on the bottom of the enclosure, no openings on the top or the right side, and a single 120mm fan mount on the left side panel."

    No to be too critical, but Dustin writes this as if it were a bad thing! I'd be happier if they included a cover for the side vent, too. It would cut down on the noise and probably contribute to better front-to-back airflow. I think you have to evaluate "features" like a foolish number of vent openings based on the intended usage of the case. This happens to be a small, very inexpensive case that is clearly meant for modest builds. Just my 2 cents.
    Reply

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