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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  • Iketh - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    ^This

    PLEASE GET RID OF SIDE VENTS, THX
    Reply
  • Casper42 - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    I agree as well.

    I think if this case was like a 1/4 inch wider, they could have gone with a 120mm Exhaust and all but eliminated the need for the side port.

    If they had either dropped to 1 optical bay or made the case a smidge taller, they would have completely avoided the problem with the Optical bay mount contacting the Mobo. The reviewer said to make the case longer, which might help for his mobo, but someone comes out with a mobo thats slightly longer and that plan goes to hell. Make the case a smidge taller and virtually any mATX board will now fit because you are under the 5.25 bay.

    My ideal mATX Case would have 1 5.25" Optical bay, 4 HDD mounts and 2 x 120/140mm intakes on the front.
    Then 120mm exhaust above the IO shield and some perforations above the PCIe slots so any lingering GPU heat can be pushed out due to positive pressure.

    On a normal ATX case, something I don't think most if any case builders have figured out is that you can really easily fit a 92mm fan in 4 empty PCIe slots mounted either inside or outside the case. This helps again with exhausting latent GPU heat.

    I'm a big proponent of traditional front to back cooling.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    I'm not sure it was intended as a negative; Dustin is merely pointing out the various aspects of this small enclosure that you don't get. I'd agree that the lack of bottom/top/right vents isn't a bad thing for the intended market. That's sort of the point: don't get this type of case for a high-end setup. Know the limitations (i.e. it works best with a smaller mATX mobo and modular PSU) and set your expectations accordingly. Reply
  • Spivonious - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Can we get something listed with each case for the size? Obviously a full ATX case is going to cool better than a tiny mATX case. Reply
  • Leyawiin - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Pop in an i3-21XX and a compact card like an HD 7850 and you'd have a decent little system. Both have pretty modest thermal output in relation to their performance. Reply
  • Silenus - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    I recently built a gaming system for a friend with this case. We were trying to keep it as small as possible while squeezing the budget as much as possible. In it are:
    Z68 board, i5-2500k overclocked, 92mm tower cooler, Radeon HD 6850, 2 x 3.5" hard drives.

    All told it works great. It is definitely tight but with some care taken on install and cable management it all works nicely. There is no room for expansion but we knew this going in. For the money and size it's a nice budget option IMO.
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Sounds like a great build, though probably more CPU and GPU than I would have put in this little case - particularly with the overclock! I would have imagined something akin to a Core i3 + 6750/6770 and no overclock (i.e. a true budget system with modest gaming chops).

    Your build should be within the thermal limits, even if a bit hot, based on Dustin's overclocked configuration. If you have some thermal numbers for gaming situations (i.e. CPU/GPU temperatures) I'd love to see them.
    Reply
  • marc1000 - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    I still dont understand how is it possible to fit 2 drives in there. the drives will go with the cables coming to the BACK of the case, is that it? wouldn't they interfere with the cables for the GPU? Reply
  • Belard - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Or its sister case, TJ08B-E?

    These mini-towers will only hold mATX motherboards (4 slot), and in reality - most people simply don't need 7/8 slot boards anymore. We can do SLI/CF with many mATX boards nowadays. I remember the says of having the HUGE Antec cases that were heavy and required 4 LOUD cooling fans to keep things... cool.

    I've gone as small as i can with my Antec P150, which has a regular ATX board that has never had anything more than a single video card nor a 2nd optical drive.

    I've seen this SS SST-PS07B in a FRYs store, it looks great inside and out... its $95, but doesn't look cheap at all. Includes 2 huge front fans with a easy to remove & clean filter. I'd prefer round power buttons, but oh well. It does have 2 USB 3 ports on the front.

    There is room for cable management in this flipped motherboard layout (Case opens from the right side, mobo upside-down).

    About this review on the Core 1000... it doesn't look good. Spend $5 more and get a much bigger HAF912 or an Antec 300. There are some people who will side mounted ports. I have my P150 inches from my keyboard. I wouldn't mind having the SS replace it (I think) as long as it performs well and can hold 3-4 SSD/HDs.

    Hence noise is important to me. My case is almost silent. There are louder things in my home, my room and outside. Reasons for a case OFF the floor is dirt, easy access to drives/ports, pets - like dogs can mean more hair getting into the vents. Cases on desks don't get kicked. Kids knocking into cases.

    Each their own... as people have different needs. A friend has little needs, but has a HUGE Thermaltake tower from 6+ years ago that is heavy... it'll hold 8 HDs easily. But he wants no computers on his desks... So we'll soon gut it out and stick in an i5-35xx in their soon. :)
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, April 13, 2012 - link

    Covered them both.

    Look for TJ08-E and PS07 in our search bar.
    Reply

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