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  • buildingblock - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    The move to 140mm fans for intake and exhaust is particularly welcomed, time to move on from the 120s. Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    I'll agree with you once all the PWM fan makers start making fans in 140mm varieties. Right now, for great fans you choose between PWM and 140mm. That's not a choice that you should have to make.

    You'd think Corsair would be on the forefront of fixing this, seeing as they just released a premium fan line AND have cases that could use said fans. But no, they in fact released NO PWM fans at all.

    Until that day, 120mm needs to stay the standard.
  • prophet001 - Friday, August 10, 2012 - link

    Here is a link to some 140mm PWM fans. I just used the Akasa Vipers in my build and they're great fans. They can move as much air as your need or they can throttle to very quiet levels. I highly recommend them.
  • btb - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    I have both and R2 and R3 and really like them. The only thing I wish they would improve on is getting rid of the ugly top of the case, it detracts significantly from an otherwise very nice looking case. How big a percentage of the buyers of these cases do actually use the top exhausts? I'm guessing below 5%. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Well, the idea is to make space for a 240mm radiator or a closed-loop like the Corsair H100, but the problem is that clearance for radiators there just isn't good. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Yeah, I think they need to use a Lian-Li style blanking plate, where it fits almost completely flush, leaving a smooth finish, but the user then has to supply a wire grill later. Reply
  • beginner99 - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    I use it! make sense to have airflow from bottom/front to top as hot air flows up naturally anyway. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    This article has disappeared from the homepage! I can't read it anymore :( Reply
  • piroroadkill - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Ah, NDA, NDA, thought so. It's all good! Reply
  • themossie - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Neither the "next page" or menu to choose article pages is working - they both return me to the page.

    Other articles work fine.

    Is this just me, or is something wrong?
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    I bunged the NDA time on the review and had to bounce it an hour, that's what happened. :| I've normally been great about NDAs but for some odd reason this one just confused me stupid. Reply
  • themossie - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Thanks, it happens :-) Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    The case is huge, especially for the used motherboard. When do we get reduced depth cases? An unnecessarily big case seems bad for airflow, as the air has to travel farther.

    BTW, how's ports on top a compromise for cases on the desktop? It can't get worse than that.
  • Spivonious - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    I can't be the only one here who has more than 2 drives.

    X-Fi bay
    Card Reader (3.5")

    The rest of this case looks very nice, but I won't be able to use it.
  • Death666Angel - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    I don't have more than 2 drives:
    - slim line optical drive with 2.5" bay and 2 USB ports
    - 6x2.5" bays
    And I only have those because I hadn't anything better to put in there. If you need more, buy a different case. Most people I know don't even need those 2. :)
  • Olaf van der Spek - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Not every case has to suit every build, has it? I for one wouldn't mind seeing one less 5.25" bay.
    What do you need both a DVD-ROM and a DVD-RW for though?
  • piroroadkill - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    My monitor (Dell U2410) has a card reader built in, I don't have an x-fi bay, and I infact only have one 5.25" device in my Fractal Design Define R3: An LG HD-DVD/Blu-ray drive (rare now, glad to have one). Reply
  • Grok42 - Sunday, July 22, 2012 - link

    I think you are unusual in your need for so many 5.25" bays. The good news is that most mid-tower cases have four 5.25" bays with the next most popular being three bay configurations. You shouldn't have trouble finding a really good case that meets your needs. Those who would prefer to have better cooling, more 3.5" bays, more 2.5" bays or smaller cases are completely out of luck. This case is very unusual only having two bays and there are almost none with only a single bay. There are exactly two cases on the market with none.

    That said, you could easily go down to two bays. Not sure what the point of two DVD drives are unless you are copying a lot of one off DVDs. The best card readers are the USB stick converter ones. Much easier to deal with because you can insert the card much more easily. The X-Fi bay is a personal thing. I prefer my sound controls in a closer and more accessible place like on a remote beside my keyboard. My computer is on the floor and using a front panel for volume and headphones there would be awkward even if it was on my desk.
  • casteve - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    ..Especially for trying out all three fan speeds. I liked the R3. Glad to see Fractal evolving the design. Reply
  • tribbles - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    I have an Antec P280 and would love to be able to (cleanly) block the top vents like Fractal has done with the R4. Does anybody make a standard 120mm fan mount cover? I've Googled it and haven't had much luck. Reply
  • mtoma - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    I doubt that such a fan cover exists. But I wonder, only the 2 top vents on the P280 are responsible for the weaker acoustical performance comparing to the Define R4? If not, on what ground Dustin Sklavos said that the acoustical performance in Define R4 is better that P280? I know he changed the testing methodology, but... how can we compare our favorites?
  • surt - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    It looks deep enough, but I take it lacks the mounts for EATX? Reply
  • Grok42 - Sunday, July 22, 2012 - link

    I'm curious, what are your reasons for using an EATX motherboard? Is it memory capacity? Followup is why you want to put it in a mid-tower case. I'm not judging, criticizing, complaining or anything, just wanting to know. Reply
  • gamerdad - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    I got an R3 last year on the strength of its reviews on this site and elsewhere. Love the rig in general, but I do have one complaint. The power button is big, round, friendly, accessible and has a pretty light around it that just calls out its seductive siren song. "Push me," it cries.

    Which my toddler loves to do.

    So now I have a garish taped-down cardboard flap over the power button. Next time, I'm getting a case with the buttons behind the front door.
  • makken - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Why not just set the power button to "do nothing" under power settings? Reply
  • gamerdad - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    You can do that? (looks it up...) Sure enough, you can do that! Thanks. Reply
  • Flying Goat - Saturday, July 21, 2012 - link

    Another option is to turn off the light on the power button. This is what I do, since it's too bright for my tastes, though I do kinda miss having an indicator that my PC is on. Reply
  • UNHchabo - Monday, July 23, 2012 - link

    I have an R3, and I hooked up the LED to the HDD LED leads; the LED is too bright for me too when it's constant-on, but I think it works great as an HDD light. Reply
  • chrislue - Monday, August 13, 2012 - link

    R4 does not have a HDD led? Reply
  • danjw - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    You don't mention the distance between the top of the case and the motherboard, it would be useful in evaluating if a radiator there is actually feasible. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    Fractal Design rates it for 15mm, but I'm still of the opinion that your mileage may vary due to VRM sink design, etc. If it's going to fit it's going to be awfully tight, I don't think I'd try it in this case. Reply
  • danjw - Saturday, July 21, 2012 - link

    Thank you for the response. Sounds like a water cooling in this case is a lost cause. Oh well. Reply
  • vanwazltoff - Wednesday, August 01, 2012 - link

    actually there is not a single review that says this but the button hard drive cage can be moved back and a 240mm read can be installed in the front. there is a YouTube video from fractal that shows this Reply
  • TheStu - Friday, July 20, 2012 - link

    I just picked up the Arc Midi, which I love aside from one small issue. In the removable cage, you cannot put a 3.5" drive into the top bay. The screws that secure the plastic bits on top protrude down too far and it scratches the top of the drive. I suppose if I felt like gouging the crap out of my drive I could put one there, but fortunately I /only/ have 6 hard drives and 1 SSD. Reply
  • sonicology - Saturday, July 21, 2012 - link

    "Evolution not revolution" and variations thereof must be the single most overused literary cliche in tech journalism, every time I read it I shudder. Reply
  • randinspace - Saturday, July 21, 2012 - link

    It's the influence gaming has had on the current generation of writers. Although, I'd personally take "evolution not revolution" over "rare(fied) air" (which seemed to inexplicably sweep the nation after Drew Brees passed Dan Marino's passing record last season, even creeping into Anandtech) any day.

    Seriously speaking (as a hack novelist who makes less money from writing than most HS kids do from their summer jobs), I find that even though the writers here at Anandtech all have their own idiosyncrasies which they can't help but put on display considering their output, they each have their own distinct "voice" and do a good job not just parroting their fellows' expressions, anecdotes, opinions, metaphors, and what have you. As opposed to AM radio personalities, ESPN's in particular. If I hear Jeremy Lin described as a "gift from the heavens that fell into the Knicks' lap last season" one more time (after hearing it used on just about every ESPN radio program just about every day this week) I'm going to throw whatever the offending phrase issued from into the nearest bay. Even if it's my manager.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, July 21, 2012 - link

    Sometimes I can't help it, and I've found myself often even accidentally or almost repeating myself in headlines. It's tough to consistently come up with new stuff when you write as much as we do. ;)

    At the risk of tooting our own horn a little bit, Anand pretty aggressively courts (and has us aggressively court) people who have some writing skill in addition to their understanding of technology. From there, our editorial process has been in my experience devoid of any stylistic editing. I've written for a few sites, but these are seriously the nicest and most genuinely talented guys I've ever worked with.
  • Grok42 - Sunday, July 22, 2012 - link

    I love the monolithic front look of the case with no bays or grills. I also appreciate this case bucking the almost universal trend of putting three or four and sometimes even five useless 5.25" bays. Doing so builds the option of having much better cooling or many more hard drives.

    Other than the power button, the ports on the top of the case seem a bit silly. I can't imagine why I would use the audio ports for my speakers. I can't imagine use them for headphones instead of the headphone port on my speakers or remote dongle. Same for the USB, just use the one on my computer/monitor/keyboard/speakers all which seem like they would be more convenient. I wouldn't care so much but it seems like those top ports will get dirty quickly and become unsightly.

    I also agree with other posters that the top ports shouldn't be there. My current case has a vent and fan on the top and I will never get another case with them again. You can stack anything on top and my son loves to put things into them.

    Finally, If they really want to do a revolution for the next iteration of this case here is what I would do. Ditch the 5.25" bays entirely. Reduce the width of the case as much as feasible while still keeping the 3.5" bays mounted the same. Ditch the lateral expansion slot if it helps reduce case width. Ditch ATX support along with 3 of the 7 expansion slots to allow the case to be shorter.
  • Arbie - Sunday, July 22, 2012 - link

    Actually, I love the top vents on my Coolermaster CM-690, and wouldn't buy a case without them for a performance build.

    This looks like a very good case even compared to the CM-690 series, except I don't want a door. Is it removable? I hope so.
  • Grok42 - Sunday, July 22, 2012 - link

    I would prefer not having a door as well to reduce the overall size of the case. However, as long as manufactures insist on not making ANY cases without putting 5.25" bays in them, there are a lot of people who want something to cover up the ugliness these bays create. My ideal case would look just like the front of this without a door. The front sides would have vents/grills for pulling air in across all the drive bays and exhaust it out the back with vents/grills where they now typically have 9 expansion ports. Basically create a wind tunnel from front to back with the only compromise is not pulling air through the front panel for appearance reasons. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, July 23, 2012 - link

    Completely disgree on the door - I have a Fractal Design Define R3, and closing the (foam padded) door makes a HUGE difference to the noise you perceive from the front of the case. Using my phone and a ghetto app, we're talking a few decibels different. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, July 23, 2012 - link

    Just in case I wasn't clear, I mean I absolutely DO want the door. Cleans up the look, massively reduces noise. Reply
  • Grok42 - Sunday, August 12, 2012 - link

    My current case has a door and it too reduces noise a lot. There isn't anything magically about putting a hinge on a solid panel that stops noise, it's the fact that it's a solid panel and no noise doesn't leak through the small openings around the bay ports. Reply
  • dj44 - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    After reading I may have missed this, but is there any mention of dust filters under the PSU and on the fan mount just in front of it? I can't remember if the R3 had these either. :P

    Regarding the top fan mounts, I must be one of the 5%ers as I love 'em - I currently have the CM Centurion 590, and use both top 140mm mounts at the top, theoretically, with good fans it should help with overclocking on air - heat will always rise more easily than go sideways.
  • dj44 - Thursday, July 26, 2012 - link

    Apologies, I just went back through the pics and saw that a filter covers both.

    Another question though, would anyone be able to please tell me what the total wattage the fan controller can handle?
  • vanwazltoff - Wednesday, August 01, 2012 - link

    no reviews emphasize that the bottom hard drive cage can be moved back to accommodate a 240mm rad in the front and that bottom cage can be moved anywhere in the case because it has the same bolt pattern as a 120mm fan. that is a substantial difference between the r3 and r4.

    I actually sent fractal a long email about how they can improve apon the r3 and they used 90% of the ideas I gave them, its nice to sea that a company that listens to its customers. one of the many ideas I sent was an option between windowed and non windows versions and a window upgrade kit for the r3
  • chloroprocaine - Sunday, August 05, 2012 - link

    Great article, Dustin. Really helpful as I've been waiting for the R4 for quite some time now.

    Quick question, in your closing statement, you say:

    "...while the Corsair 550D is a generally better performer, it also has more trouble spots that give me some pause in regards to its longevity"

    Could you elaborate on this point? 550D seems like a great, albeit more expensive, alternative to the R4, but it would be horrible if it wasn't as nicely built.
  • chrislue - Monday, August 13, 2012 - link

    Does it have a HDD led? Reply
  • tigersty1e - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    going forward, it would help to keep the cpu and gpu fan constant. that way, we can compare the temps and decibal ratings with apples to apples.

    some cases give great cooling to cpu, but are poor for gpu cooling. and a few percentage points for the gpu fan can really throw the db ratings much higher.
  • ifdefmoose - Tuesday, December 04, 2012 - link

    The lack of a hard drive activity indicator makes this case a non-starter for me, which is really unfortunate. Other than that, it looks like a great design.

    Does anyone else feel that this is a critical omission?
  • Freeform - Friday, February 01, 2013 - link


    "What's worth pointing out is that the R4 does not feature an IDE indicator LED despite having space for one. The LEDs surrounding the power button and breaking the center of the front door are power indicators only. This is an unusual omission that doesn't affect the usability of the case too much (many notebooks these days don't include IDE indicators either), but it's worth mentioning."

    This is incorrect.

    The power LED connection from the front panel harness can just as easily be plugged into the HD activity stand-offs on your board as to the regular spot indicating power on. This is a huge misconception that I've seen paragraphs dedicated to in all of the Define reviews.

    There's nothing stopping you from having a really annoyingly bright blue LED HD indicator on this case! It's working on mine right now.
  • Lonerski - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - link

    I would like to compare that case with the Lian-Li P-90, but as you see it is impossible as there is no tested case in common ( So is there a way to make any comparison ? Is the Lian-Li louder at low and high performance ? I would like to use an O/C i3570K and a 560Ti within. My current case is an Antec 1080 Plus. Reply
  • Lonerski - Sunday, March 31, 2013 - link

    note : would probably use a rheobus for reguling fan speeds. Reply
  • dwbarron - Friday, January 03, 2014 - link

    I just bought this case and have not yet done my (first) build, but re: the 'power' light: it clearly states on page 4 of the manual, "Define R4 features a power LED; by switching the connectors on the motherboard, the power LED can function as an HDD activity LED."

    Another option, and probably the one I will take. My PC is usually left on anyway, so a power light is less useful to me. (Not that I look at the HDD light too often, but sometimes I do if the machine appears to be hung, to see if it's access the HDD.)

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