There are many motivations for building a Mini-ITX PC. Do you want your PC to look like a console? Or do you want the smallest PC possible? It’s hard to fit powerful components into the dimensions of a PS5 or Xbox, but Fractal Design has made it possible for modern console sizes. You can at least give it a try with Ridge, an ITX chassis.
The $129.99 case is available in either black (as tested) or white and has a matching fabric front. Note, however, that there are no pre-supported fans. The air is moved by a pair of his 140mm PWM fans above the motherboard, next to the GPU area. This helps keep the GPU cool, but the side panel perforations aren’t enough to keep the CPU cool as well.
Specifications of Fractal Design Ridge
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||14.5 x 14 x 3.7 inches|
|GPU max length||12.8 inches|
|CPU cooler height||2.75 inches|
|internal bay||4x 2.5″ SSDs|
|expansion slot||Small Form Factor GPU: 3|
|Full length GPU: 4|
|Front I/O||2x USB Type A 3.2 Gen 1|
|1x USB Type C 3.1 Gen 2|
|other||1x PCIe riser card|
Features of Fractal Design Ridge
The Fractal Design Ridge is the company’s latest ITX chassis, inspired by the 2015 Node 202. Like that case, Ridge is small enough to mimic a console.
As for the ridge design, Fractal Design recognized the success of the 202 and aimed to modernize it. His latest Fractal chassis is steel, with holes for air intakes on the sides and a canvas-like perforation in the front. And its front is certainly an eye-catching feature.
Instead of bringing back the 202 to 90-degree support stand, Ridge features a stand that makes the case appear to float an inch or so above your desk.
If you don’t like the design, this is a computer case, not a modern speaker. So Ridge needs everything: cooling support, space for drives, proper his IO. On that last count, especially for his ITX case, what Ridge offers is fair. The front IO has 1 USB 3.1 Gen Type-C, 2 USB 3.0 and 1 combo audio jack at the bottom front.
As expected, the Ridge doesn’t have room for a 3.5-inch drive, but storage support is excellent for its size. The Ridge can accommodate a total of four 2.5-inch SSDs or hard drives, matching some of the mid-towers we’ve reviewed. The two SSDs can be installed behind the motherboard tray like 99.9% of computer cases, but the latter two are installed behind the front panel. I don’t like this place because it feels like it could be used for an 80mm fan, but if I need four 2.5″ drives, I’ll put two of them here.
The internal layout of the Fractal Design Ridge is to be expected from an ITX case: crowded. A SFX or SFX-L power supply is also required due to the narrow case. After installing the motherboard, though, I was on my own, but Fractal has great instructions.
At 14.5 x 14 x 3.7 inches (HDW), the Ridge is a very slim case. A low profile CPU cooler like Thermalright’s AXP120-X67 will fit just fine, but the maximum height allotted for a CPU cooler is 2.8 inches (70mm). Graphics cards are housed behind the motherboard tray, allowing you to install cards up to 12.8 inches (325mm) long. But don’t expect to install the latest top end here. Our EVGA RTX 3050 XC fits just fine, but anything much thicker than 2 slots will bump into the fan and the inner frame of the case.
The number of extra fans you can attach to the Ridge is impressive, but impractical. The side fan mounting brackets support fans or radiators up to 280mm in diameter, while the top of the case only supports three 80mm. Honestly, I wish the Fractal included three 80mm fans instead of two 140mm Aspect 14 PWM fans. Don’t get me wrong, Aspect fans are great, but who has an 80mm fan?
Our ITX case test hardware uses an Intel 12th Gen “Alder Lake” 12600K and is cooled by a Thermalright AXP120-X67 SFF. The graphics card is EVGA RTX 3050 XC. The Ridge’s slim profile means it needs to use a different cooler than a larger case, so we didn’t compare it to other cases in the tests below.
Acoustic results of Fractal Design Ridge
Our acoustic tests consist of three scenarios. Run the CPU at full load, run the CPU and GPU at full load, and run in optimized mode. The CPU full load test runs the CPU and case fans at maximum speed. For the CPU and GPU full-load acoustic tests, we put the EVGA RTX 3050 XC under load and set the fans at 75% speed. This is because in games the fans never run at 100% and when they do they are too loud.
Optimized mode runs the GPU fan speed at 30% and the CPU and attached case fans at their lowest spinning speed.
The Ridge comes with two Aspect 14 PWM fans designed for radiators, so don’t expect it to be quiet. This case is quite noisy, and I have to mention it, especially when cranked to full speed. With the case and CPU fan set to max RPM, it hits 55dB, which is pretty deafening. Of course, most of the time the fan doesn’t spin that fast. But even in our CPU/GPU stress test with the case fans running at half speed, the Ridge was a bit loud at his 47dB.
Thermal results for Fractal Design Ridge
All case and CPU fan speeds are set to 100% for thermal testing. The Core i5-12600K is set to a 4.3GHz clock of 1.12v across all performance cores to ensure consistent power consumption across test scenarios.
The thermal results from the ridges are attractive. CPU heat is pretty bad for a Core i5, but GPU temperature is great.
But I’m not too surprised. GPUs used in compact cases are not very powerful. And since there’s no case fan above the CPU, the side panel design doesn’t draw enough cool air into the CPU to keep it cool.
The Fractal Design Ridge is another interesting case design from the Swedish company that, with the right hardware, could be a killer HTPC. However, the side perforations aren’t great for air cooling, and it’s a shame that an 80mm fan isn’t included.
Is this case recommended for high end AM5 or Intel 12th or 13th generation setups? However, if you’re running something like a 65W Ryzen 5 5600X, the case should be fine. If you want to pack more powerful components, you should opt for a slightly larger, or at least wider, case.
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