Introducing the Fractal Design Arc Midi

The more enclosures we get in, the more amazed I am at just how competitive the market is for $99 cases. That market is made only more competitive by younger, hungrier companies like BitFenix and Fractal Design, along with new entries from Corsair and NZXT. In another welcome change of pace, these enclosures tend to be slicker, more streamlined, and less gaudy than the gaming cases of yore while providing oftentimes excellent thermal and acoustic performance. With those things in mind, today we look at our first of hopefully many cases from Fractal Design: the Arc Midi.

I don't mind saying one of the names that keeps getting brought up in our comments is Fractal Design, and even our own Brian Klug has messaged me on Facebook "politely suggesting" I get some of their hardware in. Thankfully the wait is now over, and Fractal Design has decided the best foot to put forward in starting reviews with AnandTech is the Arc Midi. Having played with it, I can see why.

Fractal Design Arc Midi Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25" (one 5.25"-to-3.5" converter included)
Internal 8x 3.5"/2.5"
Cooling Front 1x 140mm intake fan; 1x 140mm fan mount
Rear 1x 140mm exhaust fan
Top 1x 140mm exhaust fan; 2x 120/140mm fan mounts
Side 1x 140/180mm fan mount
Bottom 1x 120/140mm fan mount
Expansion Slots 7+1
Front I/O Port -
Top I/O Port 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, mic and headphone jacks
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 11.4" with drive cage/18.5" without (Expansion Cards), 180mm (CPU HSF), 270mm (PSU)
Weight 22.05 lbs. (10 kg)
Dimensions 20.28" x 9.06" x 18.11" (515mm x 230mm x 460mm)
Price Online starting at $99

Not mentioned but also included is a separate fan controller supporting up to three fans that fits into one of the expansion slots. I was a little bit on the fence about testing with the controller, but it was included with the case and ultimately there's no real reason not to.

In and Around the Fractal Design Arc Midi
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  • lwatcdr - Friday, October 07, 2011 - link

    How about a case shoot out with a difference.
    How about the Fracal Design Arc Midi vs the BitFenix Merc Alpha?
    Except spend $60 on upgrading the Alpha. Use the money to put in better fans and such.

    Now hear me out before people jump on me.
    For a lot of builders they enjoy the act of building and improving. So it would be interesting to see if a hobbiest would be better off modding the Alpha vs buying the Midi.
    You can do the same thing with the Midi vs a more expensive case
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, October 07, 2011 - link

    I like the case. I might recommend it or the smaller brother, Arc Mini.

    However, I personally don't understand the obsession with:
    a) tool less installation in general and
    b) tool less installation of drives especially.

    I don't assemble / tear apart my cases that it is a big concern. And having actual screws to tighten gives me a better feeling. Depending on the approach, tool less drive assembly might also inhibit my ability to install non-drive stuff in the cages, for example water cooling equipment, fan controllers, back planes etc., when they use non-standard holes.
    This stuff may be important for big OEM who assemble millions of PCs. But for me as someone who assembles PCs for myself and friends and family, I see no reason to go with tool less, if I can avoid it. :-)

    But a good review overall! And I like that you guys are tackling a lot of normal-budget cases. I don't see the appeal in huge 200 to 300USD cases that can house 10 HDDs and 4 GFX cards. :D
    Reply
  • bhima - Friday, October 07, 2011 - link

    I'm sort of glad the noise levels were only OK, it makes my purchase of an Antec 902 feel I little bit more justified. Reply
  • bunnyfubbles - Friday, October 07, 2011 - link

    plenty of space for a mid tower build and was easily one of the most pleasurable experiences I have ever had when actually putting the computer together, I can't really recall any instance where I was stumped or struggled on how or where i was going to route my cable management

    http://img199.imageshack.us/img199/2272/dsc0120tq....

    moved the top 140mm fan to the front to have dual 140 intakes and make room for the 240mm rad of the H100, and added an aftermarket NZXT 140mm to the bottom as an intake

    right now my biggest gripe is the side panel which allows for either at 140mm or 180mm fan could be improved as the 200mm round fans have mounting holes that are actually in between the 140mm and 180mm dimensions they provide and thus are simply not an option to install without some sort of mod.

    A filter would also be nice for the side panel otherwise I'm more inclined to use it as an exhaust but that would likely upset positive pressure

    all in all it has easily been one of my absolute favorite cases to work with thus far, I'm tempted to buy another and convert some old systems
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, October 10, 2011 - link

    That is one very nice clean build. I think I can spot my favourite Gentle Typhoons on the Rad.

    Do you need that many intake fans? Personally I would be tempted to pop in a thick 140mm rad at bottom (or front if you are not using the drive cage) a cool the GPU and CPU. But that is the problem with water cooling - once you start it is difficult not to tinker
    Reply
  • Malih - Friday, October 07, 2011 - link

    I finally swing to Fractal Design after reading this review and seeng the build quality of the Arc Midi, and reading several other reviews,

    but I was looking to build a silent system, and I also think about microATX system, so I decided to get the Define Mini, there's a "bug" in the case regarding multi-GPU setup, but since I'm not thinking of going multi-GPU (budgetwise), I decided to get the Define Mini.
    Reply
  • radium69 - Saturday, October 08, 2011 - link

    When are you guys going to review the Xigmatek cases?
    They a lot of midi towers that are very sleek and considered to be big value.
    Cheers,
    Kevin
    Reply
  • Zebo - Sunday, October 09, 2011 - link

    Just another el cheapo paper thin case. I have not seen a good case since wave master had like 3mm thick aluminum everywhere. Reply
  • snapdrag0n - Sunday, October 09, 2011 - link

    CM Storm still the best pound for pound at this price range. Reply
  • Bazzatron - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    The Fractal Design Define R3 is about the same price here in the UK. (About £75)

    Weighs a ton - combined with a "Be Quiet" PSU is the most silent PC I've ever built

    Very impressed with this case
    Reply

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