First Look: Fabric-Wrapped Fractal Design Mood PC Case Channels IKEA for Geeks

TAIPEI–If you’re a PC enthusiast familiar with the company Fractal Design, you probably know it for its popular North line of PC cases. The Norths are trimmed with wood and inspired a design trend over the last few years. Before it went all arboreal, the Sweden-based Fractal was already well-known for its spare-looking, Scandinavian-styled PC cases that emphasize quality materials, mostly hard edges, and minimalist motifs.

Big Mood! Fractal Brings Textiles to Its PC Case Line

Fractal Design was true to that trend at Computex 2024 with a new case called Mood. This is a vertical chimney-style mini-tower with a super-clean exterior, designed to fit into one of those impossibly idealized model IKEA-style living rooms you see in catalogs that emphasize pale wood and sleek surfaces, and usually, almost no possessions. (It’ll probably look great in your messier, less coordinated living room, too.) The difference with the Mood is that the outer surface isn’t metal but a woven synthetic cloth stretched over a frame. It evokes a warm, homey sensibility while still looking sophisticated. Whether the cloth will have any marked upside for airflow versus solid sheet metal remains to be seen.

(Credit: John Burek)

You can remove the entire outer frame of the Mood as a single piece, sliding it over the top like a sleeve. (The rear face is an easily removable grille.) As you’d expect from the shape and size, the case takes Mini-ITX motherboards only, and works only with SFX and SFX-L power supplies. (The enclosure’s footprint measures just 8.4 by 8.4 inches, and the body is 17.8 inches tall.) You do get space for long two-slot-wide video cards (up to 325mm) mounted vertically.

Fractal Design Mood

(Credit: John Burek)

Surprisingly, the case can support a 240mm radiator (also mounted vertically, of course), if only under certain conditions. A hard drive bracket up front, which is removable, takes up part of the radiator space and limits radiator installs to 140mm if used. The case can house a single 3.5-inch drive, plus two 2.5-inch drives.

Fractal Design Mood

(Credit: John Burek)

More about the cooling. The mainstay fan here, included, is a big 180mm spinner up top. If you’re strictly air-cooling and want to install a pair of 120mm or 140mm front fans, they can go in the spot where a radiator would go. As for the CPU, the case can take a CPU air cooler up to 114mm tall.

The front panel’s port layout (concentrated in the bottom “foot” of the chassis) comprises a single USB Type-C (of the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 20Gbps variety), plus a pair of Type-A ports and a combined headphone/mic jack. The fabric shown in the video above is what Fractal terms light grey; the company also offers a charcoal version.

Fractal Design Mood

(Credit: John Burek)

The case complies with Nvidia’s new SFF-Ready guidelines, also announced at Computex, for component fitment in small chassis. Check out the Mood, available now, at a price of $149.99, and see the video up top for a guided tour of the Mood and Fractal’s next new case: the Era 2.

The New Era 2: Airing Out a Slick Case

As for the Era 2,  Fractal Design went back to the drawing board on an earlier case, the Era ITX, that got tepid reviews. The original Era was a beautifully machined metal Mini-ITX case that simply needed better thermals and a little more room inside in which to build. The Era 2 employs the same basic exterior sculpting but adds a load of creature comforts and attacks those complaints head-on.

Fractal Design Era 2

(Credit: John Burek)

For starters, the top panel of the Era 2 is made of slotted walnut. The panel has been machined by a CNC milling process to give the wood portion an striking array of vents for a well-crafted look. (It lifts right off, attached by magnets.) The rest of the middle case, like the outer chassis of the Mood, is mostly a single-piece construction, and perforated. If you remove the bottom air filter from the case, this acts as an unlocking mechanism, and you can lift the sleeve, which is anodized aluminum, straight off the case for all-sides access to the full interior.

Fractal Design Era 2

(Credit: John Burek)

The inside of the Era 2 is a partially modular frame. With the Era 2’s outer shell off, you can snap a couple of toggles at the top of the frame and also remove the upper portion of the framework for even better interior access. Beyond that, the motherboard tray inside the case can be repositioned to the left or right to accommodate thicker or thinner graphics cards, which mount vertically, perpendicular to the motherboard.

Fractal put extra effort into the ventilation of the Era 2, given the shortfalls of the original Era. The Era 2 is vented on five sides, and the case can take up to a 280mm radiator. Twin fans at the case bottom provide starter airflow and the radiator, if any, mounts longways at the case top. Like the Mood, it’s all about up-and-down airflow here.

Expect the Era 2 in Q3 for $199 in a choice of charcoal, blue, or white.

Recommended by Our Editors

All Ears: Fractal Design Enters the Gaming Headset Market

A new product category for Fractal Design is gaming headsets. The company’s new Scape model, also shown at Computex for the first time, has a number of clever design conceits. 

Fractal intentionally reduced the size of the batteries in this wireless headset to keep the headset light. To offset this, it created a cradle that you place the headset in whenever it’s not in use. That way, it keeps topped up for all but the most marathon game sessions or epic, mind-numbing Zoom calls.

Fractal Design Scape

(Credit: John Burek)

The headset is not just about gaming, though. The Scape has a detachable boom mic that stems from one of the ear cups. If you flip it up, a red light on the boom indicates that it’s muted; flip it down, and it’s active. If you want to forego the boom, it’s also possible to use the Scape’s built-in mic in the ear cups. In a brief wearing session, the Scape headset indeed felt very comfortable on my ears, with memory foam ear padding on the cups.

Connectivity will be via Bluetooth or what Fractal calls a “low latency dongle.” The drivers for the headset will provide three calibrated presets. Expect them at $199.99 later this year, with the base included. The fabric will be in light and dark options, with adjustable ambient lighting on the earcups between the foam pads and the body, if that’s your kind of thing. We liked the Scape enough to dub it our top new gaming headset of the Computex show.

Fractal Design Refine

(Credit: John Burek)

Last up, the company showed off its initial effort at a gaming chair, dubbed the Refine and also expected in Q3. A $599.99 model will comprise mesh and soft foam, while an $899.99 deluxe model will be decked out in Alcantara fabric. Expect Refines in white, black, and grey. The chair is designed to be extra-adjustable, with the seat height and depth, the lumbar support, the headrest height, and the recline angle all customizable, along with a four-directional armrest.

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