Design

Fractal Design Torrent Nano – Review 2022

The Fractal Design Torrent is one of the best full-size PC cases that we’ve reviewed in recent years, but its bulky design and lofty price (it lists for $189.99) will keep it out of the hands of space- and cash-strapped builders. As a follow-on, however, Fractal Design has introduced the Torrent Nano—a new chassis inspired by that model but in a much smaller Mini-ITX form factor, for a much more affordable $119.99. Though both the Torrent Nano and its price are a bit bigger than you’d expect in the Mini-ITX class, it has many of the features that we loved in the original Torrent and succeeds as a desirable, superior small desktop platform. We still like the Streacom DA2 for its highly premium metal build, but the Torrent Nano gets the job done for less than half the price.


The Design: A Half-Size Torrent

Just like Fractal Design’s first Torrent case, the Torrent Nano is larger than you’d expect. Although technically a Mini-ITX case, it’s closer to a MicroATX chassis in terms of its exterior measurements, at 14.8 by 8.7 by 16.4 inches (HWD). That’s still relatively compact, and positively miniature next to the original Torrent, but if you’re planning to build a truly small Mini-ITX PC this case is not for you. The Nano will have more appeal if you want to squeeze the most performance out of a Mini-ITX build and are willing to give up a bit of space for extra cooling and expandability.

The front of the case has an edgy design that’s often lacking in space-saving Mini-ITX chassis. The front panel has thin plastic strips that stretch deep into the case. Though the plastic composition of these accents is a bit of a letdown, they still serve to make the case look more interesting, and the design lets air pass freely into the case through the front panel. This process is expedited by a large fan that measures 180mm by 38mm.

Fractal Design Torrent Nano interior fan

Depending on which variant of the Torrent Nano you buy, this fan can also come equipped with RGB LED lights. Only the Black RGB TG Light Tint model features an RGB LED lit fan. That model also has an RGB LED light strip inside, which can also be found in Fractal Design’s Black TG Dark Tint and White TG Clear Tint variants. All three of these cases have a tempered-glass panel on the left that helps to show off the lights as well as the components you install. If you want a fully RGB-free build, there’s also a solid black model that doesn’t have any lights and puts a basic steel panel in place of the tempered glass. The model we tested and photographed here is the White TG Clear Tint one.

Fractal Design Torrent Nano right side

The right side panel is a standard steel affair with no distinguishing characteristics, and the top panel is similar, though it has a slight curvature to it. The front I/O panel is located atop the case, too, and consists of a single USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a headphone jack, and a microphone jack.

Fractal Design Torrent Nano front I/O


Building Inside the Torrent Nano

Building a system inside the Torrent Nano is somewhat different than you’d expect from a modern PC case. That’s not unusual for a Mini-ITX case, but while many Mini-ITX chassis tend to be challenging builds due to their compact design, the Torrent Nano is delightfully easy to work in.

Fractal Design Torrent Nano interior angle

The main interior compartment is designed to hold the motherboard and up to a triple-slot 335mm graphics card. Not only does this make the Nano able to support most video cards, it gives you plenty of room to maneuver when installing your motherboard. CPU cooler clearance is excellent for a Mini-ITX case, with coolers up to 165mm in height supported.

Fractal Design Torrent Nano interior

Air cooling is an excellent option for this system due to the large intake fan on the front of the case, while options for adding a water cooler are quite limited. You can’t add a fan or radiator to the top of the case. You could install up to a 240mm radiator on the front, but this would require removing the preinstalled fan.

Fractal Design Torrent Nano rear

There’s room to install two fans on the bottom of the case, but Fractal Design doesn’t list this area as a possible location for a water cooler. Though it’s technically possible to add a water cooler to the bottom of the chassis, it would severely eat into the space allocated for a graphics card and depending on the cooler might make it impossible to add some cards. Even adding case fans to the bottom fan brackets will prevent you from installing a triple-slot GPU. This leaves the 120mm fan bracket on the rear of the case as your best option for adding a water cooler.

Fractal Design Torrent Nano PSU mount

Fractal Design’s Torrent cases change things up a bit from most modern PC cases by putting the power supply and a drive bay above the motherboard mounting tray instead of below it. This makes it impossible to place fans on the top of the case, but also makes the chassis much easier to work in. Adding the power supply literally couldn’t be simpler—you just pull off the top panel, put the PSU in place, and screw it in. Another advantage to this design is you can add or remove cables from a modular power supply here without removing the PSU, which is difficult if not impossible to do in chassis that locate the PSU at the bottom of the case in a tunnel or under a shroud .

Fractal Design Torrent Nano behind motherboard tray

Adding storage devices is similarly easy. The Torrent Nano has two 2.5-inch drive mounts that reside behind the motherboard mounting tray. There’s also a drive mount next to where the PSU goes on the top of the case, which can accommodate either a 2.5-inch or a 3.5-inch drive.


The Verdict: Big Mini-ITX, Big Advantages

Though larger than your typical Mini-ITX case, the Torrent Nano more than makes up for its size in other ways. It’s unquestionably easier to build a system inside the Nano than any other Mini-ITX case we’ve ever tested. The chassis also offers ample room for adding large air coolers and graphics cards and plenty of storage devices. It’s not an ideal choice if you want to build a system with a 240mm water cooler or are looking to build the smallest Mini-ITX system you possibly can, but otherwise it’s an excellent case.

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