Back to Article

  • magnetik - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    This might be just the case that I use for my new Sandy Bridge-E build Reply
  • sharpless78 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    They have already upgraded the Define R3 to USB3, and there's also a upgrade kit available. Reply
  • tzhu07 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Do they offer it for free to existing R3 owners or you pay a small cost? Reply
  • sharpless78 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Sorry to say, it is not for free. Reply
  • darckhart - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    typical. early adopters get the shaft while drumming up sales. Reply
  • lesbaer45 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Thus 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 - link

    Well, 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 - link

    Oh 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! Reply
  • icebox - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    I 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 - link

    I 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.
  • icebox - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Thanks. I suppose the Q6600 generates quite some heat by itself? Since a fusion /atom board would be cool enough and I have wd green drives for the build it should work quite nice than.

    Thanks for the detailed info.
  • slacr - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Yes, it runs at ~60-80W i'd assume, on slightly lower voltage than stock.

    The entire system consumes 100-120W measured at the socket. To clarify, the front fans slot in between the drive cage and the front of the case and do not affect the space for disks. It should work fine with lots WD GP-drives.
  • Peskarik - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    I have this case since 2 days.
    There is space for 2 intake fans independent of number of drives you put in. Moreover you have a hole at the bottom, a hole on the left side, two holes on the top = building well-cooled (but maybe loud) machine is no problem.
  • j-g-faustus - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    I'm using this case for a home server with ten HDD (using all eight 3.5" and both 5.25" bays) and a i7 920, it works very well.

    I had to experiment a bit with cooling, but with a few extra fans it is both cool and quiet.

    More detail here:
  • TerdFerguson - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    "odds are you're not going to be fitting an AMD Radeon HD 6990 or ASUS Mars II in here, but if you can afford either of those, why are you buying a $100 case?"

    Are you really that out of touch with reality? A computer case, to many, is a plain metal box that sits tucked away under a desk. Being able to accommodate a slightly larger than average graphics card does not alone justify a huge price bump.

    You guys are quick to do teardowns of every Apple or Amazon branded product you can get your hands on, why don't you do some on high-end computer cases and motherboards. Please, please, please, show us where all the extra money is being converted into value. I would be very interested in hearing how profit margins scale against unit price. Until that's been done, please stop coming off as a snobby douche-bag by insinuating that a case that costs less than $100 is inappropriate for housing a high-end graphics card.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Did you not read my review?

    In my experience, the only place you're going to find both silence AND cooling performance in an enclosure is north of the $150 mark or so. I've been testing these for the better part of the last year and the fact is, depending on your priorities, you DO get what you pay for by spending up on something like SilverStone's FT02, Antec's P183, or Thermaltake's Level 10 GT.

    Or you could just insult me. You could do that, too.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the reply, Terd, but are *you* that out of touch with reality? The number of people who buy/own the 6990 and/or Mars II is so trivially small that what we're saying is the <0.01% of users who own one of those products will want a larger case and aren't interested in a $100 enclosure.

    Let's see... $700+ on the graphics card, $200+ for a PSU to run the cards, and certainly you'd want a good motherboard and CPU in there. But after all that, you seem to think people would go for a $100 "box of steel" to put it in. I've got a 5870 CrossFire setup myself, and originally had it in a Lian Li case that's similar in some ways to this; I upgraded to a Silverstone case and a different motherboard purely to make the system run cooler and better. You want to run something like that in the Fractal Design, sure, you can do it; you can even do GTX 580 SLI. But if you're after an HD 6990 ( or a crazy-extreme Mars II (like this one: I'm pretty sure this case isn't in contention for the rights of holding everything.
  • JonnyDough - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    Jarred, I believe that many people have spent a lot on their essential components and not had much left over for a case. Its one area where I would personally be willing to cut corners. $100 will get me more than a suitable box. Just because I may want a fast PC (My Opteron 185 was once bleeding edge), does not mean I need to invest a lot in a case and I believe there are many sensible people who would share that sentiment.

    I have spent $400 on a graphics card before. I don't know why anyone would though, when you can simply wait a year and buy a $180 graphics card that outperforms it. Seems like that $200 could make me an extra $200 by the time I retire, and then I'd be happy to say I saved up to $400 by waiting a year and going lower-end. Computers today are "fast enough" and just because you can't play the latest titles does not mean you won't have solid, tested, cheap entertainment. I know capitalists would like to push sales, but we already live in a debt/slave society. The logical mathematics of it point to the idea that people willing to spend that much on a new system are not good stewards of their money.
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    I agree completely with your first statement (I as well looked for a cheap well performing case for both myself and my dad's gaming rigs). The Antec300 in my dad's system is INCREDIBLE for the money. I believe I spent $35 after a 30 rebate or something, WITH free shipping from Newegg, and with a moderate system (core i5 not OC'd, 5850) it is virtually silent with fantastic airflow. Same with my personal gaming system which was a $50-70 sTitan case which similarly performed very well while remaining pretty quiet.

    I guess a lot of people constantly are modding their systems but for me it's pretty much build it and occasionally take it outside to air compressor clean it, but it stays like that until the next build. So I don't really care if the build itself is a bit difficult, or the case isn't fancy (sits under my desk), it just has to perform well, have good cable routing options, and be inexpensive.

    I have no clue, though, where you go off on the second paragraph tangent about our society.
  • Calin - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    "but they've driven south the price of acoustically optimized cases"

    Is that in Mexico, Honduras, or maybe even Argentina?
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Everyone's a comedian. Reply
  • Peskarik - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Swedish design. :-)

    Very nice case, good materials, many possible fan mounts, good cable management.

    I installed:
    Asus P8Z68-V Pro/Gen3
    Intel Core i7 2600K
    Noctua CPU-Cooler NH-U12P SE2
    be quiet! STRAIGHT POWER, E8 CM 680W 80plus Silver
    Corsair Vengeance Red, 2x4GB, DDR3-1600, CL9@1.5V
    Seagate Momentus XT, 7200rpm, 32MB, 2.5", 500GB
    OCZ SSD Vertex 3 60GB, SATA-3, 2.5"
    extra fan at the bottom: Noctua 120mm NF-S12B FLX-Series
    will install another fan on the top: Noctua 140mm NF-P14 FLX-Series

    I do not have any graphics card in the case now, but with side open and the case 30cm from my head I hear only the CPU fans, the case fans and the bottom Noctua fan are very quiet.
    For me the problem with the case is non-removable drive bay rack. There is only one rack running from top to bottom with space for 8 drives. I wish the rack was 2-piece (4 + 4) and removable, so that I could remove the rack for the bottom 4 drives and get free air flow from the lower front fan.
  • Peskarik - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Oh, I forgot, the front eSATA is now replaced with USB 3.0, and the HDD light is integrated into the power button light (I like this a lot). Reply
  • UNHchabo - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    I thought the Power light was far too bright to be on constantly, so I just plugged the power LED leads into the HDD LED header. Works perfectly for me... Reply
  • Malih - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    exactly, i'm using Define Mini, they have pretty much the same design, and I don't care much for power LED, HDD LED is more important to me. Reply
  • Peskarik - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the suggestion! Reply
  • FlyBri - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    I've been looking at either getting the Define R3, or a BitFenix Shinobi w/ sound dampening material installed (I'm a bit curious to see if the Shinobi would perform the same, better, or worse than the Define R3).

    Anyway, what wasn't mentioned in the article is that for the longest time now, the only vendor in the US that sells the Define R3 is NewEgg. While NewEgg is a great site, they are currently charging around $23 for shipping. Add to that the fact that I live in CA, and thus have to pay sales tax on it, and I'm looking at a total cost of $142.65. While this is a good case, to me, that's too much to pay for it.

    If NewEgg ever offers a free shipping promotion on it (or even like a $5 shipping promotion), I'd definitely reconsider, but seeing as I haven't seen them do it ever (and I've been checking periodically for months), I'm not expecting it to happen anytime soon.

    So Fractal Design, if you're reading this, you have a VERY popular case in the Define get some more U.S. vendors on-board please!!!
  • piroroadkill - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    This is practically perfect.

    The 8 3.5" side facing drive sleds me me want to jizz.

    My current system uses an Antec P182, which I've had for a few builds now, but there are annoying issues. No hole where the cooler backplate is, making it a dick to swap the cooler. Bottom drive cage is horrible (yes, I already removed the middle fan, with that it's almost impossible to work in.
    Too little space behind the motherboard!

    I have 7 hard drives and an SSD in my P182, along with one HD-DVD/Blu-ray drive, so I could use every single one of those 8 sleds and leave one 5.25" bay left over, and it would look fantastic.

    That said, I just finished my build back in my P182 and I can't be bothered to switch.. But damn, this is an extremely nice case for a reasonable price.
  • Peskarik - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    "odds are you're not going to be fitting an AMD Radeon HD 6990 or ASUS Mars II in here, but if you can afford either of those, why are you buying a $100 case?"

    I disagree with this logic.
    R3 is nice and would fit 6990 no problem, if the drive bay rack were split and removable.
    The fixed non-splittable rack is The big miss in R3 for me.

    The rest was fine, fitting MB was no problem, but like you've wrote, the standoffs were not mounted and since this is the first time I build a machine on my own it took me some time to understand how to mount the MB correctly (specifically, where those shiny standoffs should go). :-)
  • JarredWalton - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    You disagree with which part of the logic? That people buying a $700 or $1400 GPU that uses a metric ton of power would likely be shopping for a larger case? Because that seems very reasonable to me; I don't get why people are uptight about us pointing out that a $100 case may not be the best choice for what will presumably be a dream system in the rest of the components. Reply
  • ven - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    If anybody wants ever more silent PC take a look at the CM silencio 550.Great look i was stunned by the mirror finish front panel of that case(yes of course that means more prone to scratches and finger prints).

    Only thing it lacks the R3 is by the fan count but that is not the problem for those who need a Ultimate silent PC if anybody decided there preference is silence then silencio will be a great option.And for those who has trade-of between silence and performance go for the R3.They both have same price range(95-110$)
  • piroroadkill - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Good call. Looks nice, and has a removable cage too, if you want a massive card. Reply
  • ven - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Yes, that's a nice option i like the silencio especially for that.And also silhouetted holes at rear of the case for water cooling making this case a solution for small,silent gaming ring.

    Dustin, check this case immediately it's a great competitor for R3.

    For more information:
  • Peskarik - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    I looked at this case when I was choosing, also at Thermaltake Element S.
    Silencio does not have enough cooling expansion capacity.
  • ven - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    sorry not front panel the front door i meant to refer. Reply
  • geniekid - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link gives the nod to the R3 and the H2 over the Silencio, but it does note that the Silencio is cheaper than both (about $70 vs $100).

    I certainly wouldn't mind AT reviewing it though :)
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Cooler Master stuff is a bit harder to get in and honestly I wasn't impressed with the Silencio 550 when iBuyPower used it for their workstation, since it utterly failed to dampen hard drive noise. Reply
  • Peskarik - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    What about Thermaltake Element S? Especially the version with side fan? Reply
  • XiZeL - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Would a corsair H100 Fit well in this and would perform well?

    thinking about this case with a i5.2500k with reference 6950(blowing air out)
  • slacr - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Fit, sortof.

    Fit well, no. I originally wanted to place a 2*120mm radiator in the roof of my case, but the top cutouts are 2*140 with fan mount holes for 120 in the middle of them. This results in a spacing between the two 120mm mounts being too far apart for standard radiator hole spacing. Trying to use a 2*140 radiator will place it too close to the motherboard. So in order to fit it properly in this case you have to make modifications.

    They did adress the watercooling/H100 issue with a different case, the Arc, see link here:

    I don't have any experience with that case though.
  • cjb110 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Given the sizes are standard, I'm surprised there isn't a third-party product, sheet of heavy ish metal with insulation of some kind. Reply
  • beginner99 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Seem weird. You say ambient is 71-74 F (= 21-23 °C) yet idle temps are exactly yin that range. CPU idles at ambient seems a little off to me? Reply
  • moep - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    But how did your review case smell?

    When I bought my R3 last year, it emitted a headache inducing stench that was too much to bear. I first thought that the bitumen mats were to blame, but Fractal later on told me that something went wrong during the production process of the rubber parts.

    I had to throw all the rubber grommets out.
  • ckevin1 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    They have fixed that. I read that they changed the rubber on the newer models because of that exact complaint. My new R3 arrived just yesterday, and I did not notice any bad smell with it.

    I was actually in the market for a potentially expensive case -- the FT02 and Raven were in consideration -- but the dealbreaker for me was the size of those cases. The spot under my desk can really only hold something about as long as the R3, maybe a little taller but not much. As far as I could tell, the R3 is about the nicest case you can buy of its size, without having to go significantly bigger.

    I would have liked another quarter inch of clearance behind the motherboard tray. There is some space back there, and ultimately I did get all the cables routed, but fitting the door was impossible until I laid the case on its side.

    The bottom fan intake for the PSU isn't going to have enough clearance on carpet, you'll probably need to put a hard surface underneath it. I really like the FT02 design in this area, with the flat bottom giving you an inch air gap on any surface.

    In general, the case seems quality. I was hoping the sound damping might do more to mitigate my noisy GPU fan, but it sounds about the same as in my old Sonata 3. I can't fault the case on that -- it's a really crappy card -- and I imagine I'll be able to appreciate the lower temps and low noise of the system fans once I replace that component, which is by far the noisiest thing in my build.
  • geniekid - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    I've been waiting for this review forever! Thanks!

    I also dislike having the door, but if it helps keep thing quiet, I can live with it. This will probably be the case I use for my next gaming build unless the FT02 drops under $150 - pretty unlikely, I know.
  • vectorm12 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    I recently bought a couple of FD cases (R3+Define XL) what I cannot for the life of me understand is why the drivetrays are as flimsy as they are. They are made out of steel and as much have a tendency to bend and flex. After a couple of drive-swaps I've already been forced to correct some of the trays to keep them locking into the case. The ideal budget-drivetrays in my mind come from the HP Microserver(they are plastic but extremely sturdy).

    Secondly I hate the fact that not more cases come with hotswap capability (even as an option).

    If your like me building a home server aiming for Xen/Fileserver etc. Your gonna need plenty of HDDs. Even a dumb-backplane with SATA-connectors would be better than having to disassemble the case each time I need to switch out a bad drive.

    With the XL I could give up three of the 5,25" bays for a separe hotswap-bay but honestly it's far from an ideal solution. Again a backplane for the satadrives (even as an option) would have been a far greater idea considering you can fit 10 drives inside the XL, without using the 5,25" bays.
  • vectorm12 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Half my kingdom for a edit button :)

    In any case despite these gripes this is in my opinion THE budget case to get. With improved fans this case is capable of running a system extremely quiet and still keep relatively cool.

    Not gonna bother correcting the few typos I made in my previous post :)
  • xeizo - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    And I'm very happy with it. The build quality is not top notch, it is only ok, but the functionality is almost faultless. It housed my C2Q @ 3.84GHz very silently for the past year and now it houses my 2600k-rig @ 4.8GHz on water near silent(I use slightly higher speed ST1450-fans to get better performande from the radiator, the C2Q was aircooled with TRUE and Noctua 12P and more silent).

    Very easy to work with, lots of space. I use all the 140mm-fan positions occupied with FDs own 140mm fans @ 600rpm and they are totally silent compared to the Silent Typhoons which are the only fans making some kind of noise in the rig. All fans are intake except the two in the top, which makes the case an excellent chimney :)
    (the water radiator benefits from intake ie cooler air pasing through it)
  • cjs150 - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    Interesting. Always though that the Arc Midi was a better choice for watercooling (or maybe just more flexible) but clearly R3 also works well.

    Are you cooling the CPU only or watercooling GPU+CPU?
  • HaydenOscar - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    I have the R2, can anyone please tell me what has changed between these two versions? I can't seem to find an actual list anywhere. Reply
  • slacr - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    The main differences are:

    Paint, a bit less shiny and more rugged.
    Sound dampening material, R2 has only bitumen where the R3 uses a mix of foam and bitumen.
    Softer grommet material for cabling
    Larger rear cutout

    No big deal imo, I use the R2 and build a computer for my father in an R3
  • Juddog - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    It seems almost like they had a NAS usage in mind when they designed the case. It would make a perfect NAS box on the cheap. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, November 25, 2011 - link

    Nah, for that, get yourself the Define Mini and use a microATX board.
    Has 6 3.5" and 2x 5.25" in the exact same, elegant design.

    Would be nice and compact.
  • zero2dash - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Glad to see that you finally have one to review. :)

    -On mine, I did some fan re-configuration. I'm sure for review purposes, you have to review the case with the stock any event, in my white R3, I took out the FD fans and put 2 S-Flex SFF21E's in the front, 1 SFF21E at the bottom mount position next to the psu, and 1 SFF21E in the rear of the case. I left the ModuVent covers on the side intake and the 2 top exhausts. I'm running a 2600K oc'd to 4.6 GHz @ 1.35 Vcc using a TRUE in push/pull with SFF21E's and my load temps stay around 60C.

    The point being - if you set up the R3 like most of the enthusiast 'open air' cases out nowadays, it can definitely hold it's own and compete with them. When I bought the case, I was looking for Antec 300 performance with silence....IMHO, I've achieved that goal.

    -Also on mine, I didn't have the issue you mentioned with the standoffs not lining up....mine lined up just fine.

    -If I have to list a gripe about the case, it's that the front dust filters are more of a PITA than I'd like to clean. The Antec 300 is a perfect example of dust filters done completely right; it takes 2 minutes to remove, rinse, dry, and reinstall a 300 dust filter. The R3 is quite different. I don't like having to grab a screwdriver to uninstall the fan/filter "sandwich" and then pry the filter off. Luckily with the door and the vents, the front doesn't get too dusty.

    -One other minor gripe is I wish the case had a HDD activity light. Some people hook the power LED light up to the HDD header on the board, which does work obviously....I just wish it had a small LED at the top for HDD activity. Nevertheless, it's certainly not a deal breaker.
  • barry spock - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    now do the Define Mini! That's what I have, and I really like it. Reply
  • derickso - Sunday, November 13, 2011 - link

    agree, please review this box! Reply
  • earle36 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    I'm also an owner of this case and absolutely love it! Spec wise I have a Core i5 2500 k running stock, a 6950, and an Asus P8P67. I keep my computer on my desk close to my head, and my previous computer was obnoxiously loud - especially when playing games. When I set out to build a new computer at the beginning of this year, I had a few criteria for choosing the case. Looks, Sound, and Cooling Performance.

    I love the way this case looks - it's not very outlandish or super geeky looking. And considering that it sits on my desk in the living room of my tiny apartment in plain view - that's a big deal to me. I don't want to my case to have several LEDs and an eccentric shape / design that sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Sound-wise I couldn't be happier. The design here is very thoughtful - love that you can open / close the vents, and that they have the sound dampening material on them too. I've left the side and top vents closed, and I bought some Nexus case fans that I put on the front, CPU, and back of the case. These seemed a bit quieter than the stock fans. I used my motherboards' software to control the speed of the fans so that they're inaudible while the system is idle (somewhere around 1100 - 1200rpm). I bought a Seasonic Power Supply that doesn't use the fan while idle. When I play a game, the fans crank up, though they're completely overshadowed by the fan on the graphics card. Still, It's by far the quietest case I've had and VERY quiet.

    Cooling wise I've made a small sacrifice in performance so I could have a silent case. Idle it sits between 80's and 90's Fahrenheit, I haven' t seen it go over 120 under load.

    Overall couldn't be happier with this case!
  • londiste - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    I was literally buying the case when I noticed that it can barely fit 5870 with stock cooling and no way it's going to fit it with the Arctic Accelero Xtreme I have on the thing.

    I hate this, especially as practically every other Fractal Design case has removable drive bays - arcs, define r3 mini, but not the define r3.
  • zero2dash - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Barely fit a 5870?
    Considering a 5870 is 11" and I had plenty of room to fit a 6950 which is also 11", plus mine has a beefed up cooler on it....yeah there's no problem fitting an 11" gpu in the R3.
    pics for ref:
  • zero2dash - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Well mine's actually shorter than that but there's still a good 2" of clearance there, I don't think you'll have any problems fitting an 11" card. Reply
  • Peskarik - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    Define R3 is an older design, that was what Fractal told answered me when I mentioned the fixed drive cage, which I as well find to be a nuisance. Reply
  • Coup27 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    For someone who hasn't kept pace with case designs for a long time, could somebody please explain why the PSU now goes at the bottom instead of the top? Reply
  • jrs77 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    The PSU sits in the bottom to make it easier to cool and less noisy. Usually PSUs have a thermal-controlled fan, which then runs faster, if it sucks hot air from within the case. That's why they get mounted on the bottom, where they can suck in fresh air instead, running cooler and more silent. Also, this setup allows for fans being mounted in the top as additional cooling for the CPU, etc.


    The trick with the cable-routing is to rout the cables prior to installing the motherboard, then they'll fit through the grommets easily enough.

    Well, and for cooling and noise... using better and more fans (Scythe S-Flex SFF21D) to drop both, temps and noise-levels does help.
    The biggest plus for the Define R3 is the understatement and the sounddampening at a very low price.

    The allways mentioned CM Silencio doesn't have the top-fan-mounts, which are pretty good for installing a 240mm rad.
  • piroroadkill - Friday, November 25, 2011 - link

    For one thing, it is becoming a heavier and heavier component with increasing power needs, and I don't think 4 screws at the back and just leaving it hanging is a great idea. With it at the top you'd end up with a big shelf splitting up the case to hold it, otherwise.

    Bottom is actually pretty good, and it means you don't have a big mains cable trailing across the back of all your other cables round the back of your machine.
  • Casper42 - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    When will some half way decent Case Mfg eventually realize that when moving the PSU to the bottom, you should really move the Optical bays as well. It doesn't seem that bad in this case because its limited to 2 Optical bays, but every other case with a bottom PSU and 3 / 4 optical bays means that after installing a nice large GPU, you effectively have created a wall between the Fans pushing cool air in at the bottom and the CPU which is now way up at the top of the case.

    The Cooler Master Silencio 550 that someone in the comments mentioned is a PERFECT example of this.
    Look at the side shot with the video card.
    So that tiny slit above the right side of the video card and a whopping 1" gap between the video card and the side panel is where your CPU gets its cool air from?

    Move the damn Optical bays to the bottom so they line up with the PSU (ideally only 2 bays like the R3) and now you have 2 x 120 or 2 x 140 pushing cool air in the front that line up perfectly with the components that need the best cooling. Upper fan cools the RAM and CPU and the lower fan cools the GPU(s).
  • JonnyDough - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    and thought it might benefit you, the world.

    Please watch this video on PBS. It is, needless to say - quite interesting, particularly if you are not familiar with fractals.
  • Gnarr - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    Thanks for a great article :)

    I however want to point out that "Methodology" is the study of methods, so unless page 4 is supposed to be teaching us the methods of testing, instead of telling us what methods were used for testing, it should be called "Testing methods", not "Testing Methodology" :)
  • JonnyDough - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    Its no secret that the tech sites I read need better editors. Good catch. :D Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    Nope. Methodology:

    Only 1b suggests methodology as the study of methods. 1a and 3 both support the use of the phrase "Testing Methodology", though "Testing Methods" is equally acceptable.
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    I don't really see anything special here.

    Since you mentioned the foam, can you make a an article about foam and how it effects temperatures and noise, if at all? I think the best you can do if you want a quiet PC is choose cool running, quiet hardware. A case does not make or break a silent/cool PC. Of course, that doesn't mean cases are unimportant, they can screw some things up if they are badly designed. But mostly, it's the components inside the case that should be of concern.
  • BitJunkie - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    I intended to buy this case, however, it was out of stock and predicted to be out of stock for some time. I ended up getting the Arc Midi with a separate noise damping kit for recent build. I also purchased extra case fans, a noctua D12 and Gainward phantom 560 gfx card to team up with an i5 2500k. Its fast enough and silent.

    20 deg / 30 deg idle
    40 deg / 50 deg oc'd and full load.

    Nice that at idle the CPU operates at ambient temp.

    I tried some experiments:

    1) No noise damping kits
    2) full noise damping (all inner surfaces covered and no intake fans)
    3) 2 No x 140mm intake fan and 2 No x 140 mm throttled venting fans with noise damping cut to cover the exposed panel sections

    for 1) it was super loud, for 2) the case got very warm and mobo temps kept creeping up. For 3) I ended up with a super silent case with lots of space and good airflow.

    Given that the Arc Midi is a newer design, removable drive bay, larger cable routing slots and perfectly aligned stand-offs I'd say that it is ahead of the R3. With the addition of fractal design noise damping kit (foam with bitumen backing) then it is way ahead of my friends R3.

    Still the R3 is a great case and the write up here is to my mind a bit more critical than it needs to be. For my last build, I used a Lian Li tower that cost me over USD 200. Found this experience to be as good and probably easier on balance.

    I have more money than I need, don't really care about paying for premium kit if it gives value - I still buy Fractal Cases - would even do so for an epic build. Quite depressed to see that high end cases dont give actually give significanltly better build quality or utility than the Arc Midi - I'd really like an excuse to buy them.

    I want a case that looks good and doesnæt come from some sci-fi movie film set.

    So long as you are not gated by thermal performance, I dont see the R3 case being a limit on rig performance - so long as you can get the components in it that you want to. Key dimensions are well specified by Fractal so check out their website and use your brain.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    Honestly I'd rather be overly critical than not critical enough. As a consumer, someone buying the end product, I'd rather the reviewer have missed something awesome than something that was going to make my life difficult.

    That said, the R3 is certainly a fine case and one of the better ones I've reviewed, easy enough to recommend for sure.
  • BitJunkie - Sunday, November 13, 2011 - link

    Good points Dustin. I've been reading anandtech since 2002 and the reviews that you and your colleagues post are excellent. I wouldn't wish that you change your style or approach at all.

    I suppose my intention was to say that the negative points that you raised, which are valid, are not significant in my decision making process when I weigh them against the other points that I feel are important.

    Of course, because you pointed them out, others are then free to make their own evaluations on how important they are.

    Keep up the good work.
  • petrucius - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    I am so going to buy one of those for xmas.
    Great design and looks, love it.
  • petrucius - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    Oh and I almost forgot - great review, thank you! :) Reply
  • einard - Sunday, November 13, 2011 - link

    And I can highly recommend it. So many good points compared to the bad ones. Dust filters work like a charm.

    It works well with stock, but I've gone to the step of adding two more intake fans (bottom and front) and the side door outtake fan. I'm running xfire 6950's and it sure gets hot down by the outtakes - but that just keep my feet warm during cold days :)

    Also, to top it off I removed the padding infront the one of the top fan spots. Even though its right next to the read outtake, it get hot around the cpu, and by opening that up it allows for natural removal of air.

    By using the simple fan controller that follows with the case, you can control three fans I believe - which I use to tune the intake fans to just so much that I have a slight overpressure in the case to keep dust out. I don't know the results after this, but I'm betting that if you add those three fans plus removing the padding you can get some crazy good results for a cheap case.

    I wish someone would go to the step and testing the case to it's full potential (challenge for you Anand)
  • Daedalus454 - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    I've been using this case for about 6 months now. I've used more expensive cases from Antec, Cooler Master, etc in the past. IMO this case is the best one I've ever used.

    I'm very surprised that you weren't able to fit the 12v power cable through it's grommet. I had no issues while using the 12v 8-pin on my SeaSonic X-650 power supply, and more recently with an NZXT 12v extension cable. I'm also running the power cables from my top and rear fans through this same grommet, and I can fit the 12v 8-pin plug through the grommet with both of these power cables in place. Does your test power supply have larger-than-normal connectors perhaps?

    I actually prefer the slight overlap between the motherboard and the side grommets, as this allows me to more easily make smaller u-bends in my cabling which, to my mind, results in a cleaner case layout. I did end up running the main ATX power cable through the gap between the mobo tray and the drive chassis, as you mentioned, which I don't really have a problem with. It puts a lot less side load on the motherboard power connector that way in any case.

    In my experience, if installed correctly, brass motherboard standoffs are extremely rigid - I doubt your issue with the video card not lining up perfectly is related to the use of removable standoffs. I find that there's a lot more wiggle room where the motherboard screws into the mounts, and if a video card doesn't line up, I just need to loosen all the motherboard screws and gently slide the mobo in the right direction.

    I'm running my R3 with two 120mm intakes, a 140mm bottom intake, a 120mm exhaust, and a 140 top exhaust, running through an NZXT Mesh fan controller. With the fans set to a "reasonable" speed I can cool an idling Phenom II 955 (with a CM Hyper 212+) at 1-2 degrees above ambient. With the top 140mm fan, I prefer to mount the CPU cooler horizontally so that it exhausts straight out the top of the case.
  • milic - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    I am looking for real silence, just wondering: are FD fans good enough to be kept or is it worth switching to top of the line Noctua NF-S12B FLX? and great review by the way, this case is really top notch for value Reply
  • milic - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - link

    Ooops edit: Daedalus454, interesting comments, on the side, what is the NZXT Mesh fan worth? looks nice, no real information displayed but does it really matter? :-) Reply
  • Flashfir - Monday, November 21, 2011 - link

    I'm running this with sflex-e as exhaust, 1 as the upper front intake, a stock fan for front lower intake, and a 140mm xigmatek for bottom intake. it runs pretty quiet my friends say they can't tell if my computer is on walking into the room.

    if you got any questions, lemme know. I'm also running a hyper 212+ and a 955.
  • MakingMonkeys - Monday, November 28, 2011 - link

    Its on sale on newegg right now for 80$ Reply
  • coffeeman12 - Monday, December 26, 2011 - link

    Holy smoke the Drive bays are in one cage! how stupid is that???????

    you kidding me, how could the designers be so stupid and make a 8 drive bay one cage!
    there should be 4 bays of 2, or at least 2 of 4.
    one cage is retarded. if I buy a graphics card which is to long I can't remove one cage!
    the case is nice.. but I think they need to rework with the inside.
  • Narhinik - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    I bought my R3 couple of days back (USB 3.0 version) and I have to say I'm really happy with it.

    I didn't have any problems with the interior design/cable management that would have been caused my the case. Some of the power cables from my PSU just were too short.

    This is actually one of the cheapest cases available in Finland and I would recommend it to anyone who is going to build a new PC.

    P.S. My Asus GTX 580 DCII fits like a glove in this case whereas there are lots of cases it doesn't fit. (PC component markets are quite small here so it's wise to order parts abroad)

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now