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Instead of the typical plastic front panel, the Node 605 has a substantial 5/16-inch thick brushed-aluminum front plate with a matte black finish. Being a person who prefers simple, functional and elegant over flashy, I was immediately impressed. Having built numerous home and office PCs over the last two decades, this is the first case I’ve unpacked and actually said “Wow!” instead of a more disappointed “oh.”
My next impression is that this HTPC case doesn't look like a PC case. Many of the HTPC cases I’ve looked at really don’t look like a home-theater component – they mostly just scream “Yes, I’m just a computer trying poorly to fit into a home theater system.” With many, the full-sized optical drive external bay on the front and computer labeling all make them look like the poor cousins you hope won’t embarrass you at holiday gatherings. Not so with the Node 605. Even with the slim front panel door that runs the width of the bottom ~1.5-inch of the front panel open, the thin slot for a slimline optical drive and clean-looking ports for interfacing with external devices and media cards doesn’t take away from the home theater look.
Speaking of which, this front panel hides access to a FireWire port; microphone input and headphone output jacks; two USB 3 ports; and CompactFlash, SD, and MicroSD card readers. I love that all three of these popular card types are supported — personally, I use all three of these media types, and appreciate that support for all are built-in with this case.
On the right side of the case, just behind the front panel, is a small switch that lets you control fan speed to balance heat dissipation needs of the electronics you install with the desire for quiet operation. Alternately, the fans can be controlled by the motherboard if it supports this function.