Fractal Design Core 500 SFF Chassis Review

Cases & PSU/Cases by leeghoofd @ 2016-02-09

Fractal is expanding their lineup continuously: small form chassis are becoming more and more popular as even the latest high end hardware is also available in reduced size. Thus small form doesn't mean the end-user is limited to just entry or mainstream components. With the right hardware choices one has the ability to build a true gaming powerhouse. The Core 500 is one of them chassis models that looks very intriguing on paper, allowing high end cooling, normal sized ATX PSUs, a discrete GPU and last but not least plenty of storage options including Optical Disk Drive support. All this in a 60 euro bundle, now that sounds too good to be true! Time to find out if there is a catch or not; or does this Fractal Core 500 really deliver?

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A Closer Look

The front panel pops off with a gentle push, the I/O front panel is independent and is attached directly to the casing's front structure. A smart move as the space inside is cramped once all hardware is installed, thus allowing no flex of any I/O cable if one had to remove the front panel. Though it must be stated that Fractal Design still uses standard length cables for Mid-Tower chassis in their small form factors enclosures, making cable management a tad harder than it should be...



The front I/O panel equipment is pretty basic with the power on & reset button. A small HDD activity LED, the in and out-jacks for the headphones and two USB 3.0 ports.



The watercooling support bracket can be easily removed after unscrewing four tiny screws, being 120/240 and even 280mm radiator compatible, nevertheless there are some restrictions:

  • Not compatible with AIOs where the pump is located on the radiator.
  • Radiator + fan thickness limited to 100mm
  • 240/280mm radiator need the removal of the ODD bay
  • When installing a rear 120 radiator, one can no longer use the rear 3.5" HDD.

Though installing the radiator is only half the job, some of these AIO tubings can be quite rigid, thus adding a lot of extra pressure on the mounting positions on both the radiator and pump unit, when being heavily bent.

If one doesn't want to use a watercooling unit a single tower air cooler is supported up to 170mm in height; another bonus point for the Core 500 as it will be compatible with a wide range of high end air coolers.




There is no front fan option in the Core 500 case, a shame as this would increase airflow big time in the case. Only a Fractal patented Silent Series R3 140mm fan expels the heat via the aft.

  • White 9 blade 140 mm fan.
  • 1000 RPM
  • Acoustical noise: 21.6dB(A)
  • Maximum pressure: 0.87mm H2O
  • 3-pin fan header


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