Fractal Design Define R3: A Fan Favorite Keeps the Noise Downby Dustin Sklavos on November 11, 2011 1:22 AM EST
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- Fractal Design
Introducing the Fractal Design Define R3
One of the perks of this job is getting to see some up-and-comers get championed by our readership and then turn around and find out what the fuss is all about. Such is the "case" (pun wholly intended) with Fractal Design's Define R3 enclosure. This is a case that has shown up fairly regularly in comments practically since we started doing these reviews again at the beginning of the year, and now we finally have the Define R3 in house for testing. It carries the weight of the community behind it and to its credit, it's certainly an interesting piece of kit at first glance. Does it live up to the word of mouth?
Something that's been bugging me since I started doing these reviews is a stunning lack of enclosures that are engineered with silent running in mind. Very few seem to make provisions towards keeping noise in check, and as a result the competition in that arena can be slim. Yet what Fractal Design has done with the Define R3 suggests that the end user need not choose to build a silent machine or a cooling optimized one. Not just that, but they've driven south the price of acoustically optimized cases into a realm previously only really occupied by NZXT's H2.
Keep in mind that this is a $99-$109 case, though. In my experience there's been an unofficial rule in the enclosure industry: south of $200 you can get silence or great cooling, but not both. For that, you'll need to spend up on something like the SilverStone FT02 or Thermaltake Level 10 GT. The question then is whether the Define R3 can challenge that notion.
|Fractal Design Define R3 Specifications|
|Motherboard Form Factor||ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX|
|Drive Bays||External||2x 5.25" (one 5.25" to 3.5" converter panel included)|
|Cooling||Front||1x 120mm intake fan, 1x 120mm fan mount|
|Rear||1x 120mm exhaust fan|
|Top||2x 120/140mm fan mounts|
|Side||1x 120/140mm fan mount|
|Bottom||1x 120/140mm fan mount|
|Front I/O Port||-|
|Top I/O Port||Mic and headphone jacks, 2x USB 2.0, eSATA|
|Power Supply Size||ATX|
|Clearance||11.5" (Expansion Cards), 170mm (CPU HSF), 180mm (PSU)|
|Weight||27.56 lbs. (12.5 kg)|
|Dimensions||20.85" x 8.17" x 17.4" (529.5mm x 207.5mm x 442mm)|
The Fractal Design R3 may come with a bunch of fan mounts, but it also includes acoustic pads that are mounted inside the case to cover up the unused mounts. As a result, any turbulence inside the case is kept inside the case; use the fan mounts you want without worrying that the ones you don't want are going to be letting noise leak out. While there are plenty of fan mounts, the Define R3 comes equipped with two 120mm fans.
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magnetik - Friday, November 11, 2011 - linkThis might be just the case that I use for my new Sandy Bridge-E build
sharpless78 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - linkThey have already upgraded the Define R3 to USB3, and there's also a upgrade kit available.
tzhu07 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - linkDo they offer it for free to existing R3 owners or you pay a small cost?
sharpless78 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - linkSorry to say, it is not for free.
darckhart - Friday, November 11, 2011 - linktypical. early adopters get the shaft while drumming up sales.
lesbaer45 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - linkThus life's lesson #1034: Don't be an early adopter. You'll get the shaft.
V3.0 owns V1.0. Every. Damn. Time.
Sabresiberian - Friday, November 11, 2011 - linkWell, the people who bought the case earlier and like it got to use the case and enjoy it sooner, so I wouldn't exactly call that "getting the shaft".
If you wait to buy something until it's perfect, you'll never buy anything, and do without. Do you want it, or not? If it serves your purpose when you buy it, it's a good thing, no matter how much better the improved version is that comes along afterward.
piroroadkill - Monday, November 14, 2011 - linkOh no, a first world problem! I have to reach around the back to plug my USB 3 device instead of having a port at the front! OH NO!
icebox - Friday, November 11, 2011 - linkI need to upgrade my home nas from an aging socket A shuttle PC. I was looking at this case for the new machine.
Since you tested it how do you feel it will behave with all the drive bays occupied? Will it have space for intake fans if I fill all the drive bays?
Cooling will be important for the drives and less for the motherboard / video card because it will obviously be a low power fusion / atom board.
Thanks for the great review!
slacr - Friday, November 11, 2011 - linkI use the R2 (previous generation) of this case for a HTPC/NAS/webserver/voicechatserver setup based on my old intel Q6600, currently stocked with 4 harddrives, an aging Seagate 250gb and 3 2TB samsungs.
Temperatures are currently 39, 33, 33, 32
Other components run at:
CPU Temperature: +43.0°C (high = +60.0°C, crit = +65.0°C)
MB Temperature: +36.0°C (high = +45.0°C, crit = +55.0°C)
SB Temperature: +50.0°C (high = +65.0°C, crit = +95.0°C)
NB Temperature: +55.0°C (high = +65.0°C, crit = +95.0°C)
In my case i use 2 of fractals fans in the front, one hanging askew over RAM/CPU/NB/GPU and one in the back all running at 5V for a really quiet setup.
I won't hesitate to add more drives when i need them, the only issue is the older 7200 rpm 250gb drive that is running slightly on the hot side.