Noise and Thermal Testing, Stock

Given that the Fractal Design Arc Midi is capable of producing a fairly wide "wind tunnel" effect that channels air through both the CPU fan and the GPU's intake fan, I felt like it had a pretty good shot at unseating some of our other big winners in this price bracket. For previous cases that included fan controllers, I've included the results that I felt were the most balanced between noise and thermal performance. Most of our more expensive cases are also removed for the sake of simplifying the charts, though the Rosewill Thor v2 remains as a representative.

Honestly this is the first time I've seen such a wide gap between fan settings. I get a strong sense that more fans and/or better fans could probably really make the Arc Midi sing. That said, all the fans running at full bore produce some excellent thermal results. Be sure to look at the stellar idle temperatures.

Unfortunately, the Arc Midi has to run pretty loudly to get the job done. At the "low" fan setting it's among the quietest, but once a load is applied to the system the lack of sound dampening takes its toll along with the middling airflow. This is one of the few cases I've tested where I'd recommend just running the fans on "high" (although replacing them entirely with better fans would probably be extremely effective).

Testing Methodology Noise and Thermal Testing, Overclocked
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  • beginner99 - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    I'm quiet surprised about the noise. I'm not sure that buying new fans helps much. i have the fractal R2 and those fans are inaudible, ok they don't have very good air flow but still. The noise comes from the GPU and probably cpu cooler and not the case fans and hence replacing them will mainly help improve cooling.
    But then if you want quiet you would not buy this case anyway.
  • Iketh - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    For some reason, this article got me thinking about tiptronic fans... what happened to them?? I can't find in google searches
  • Kepe - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    I strongly recommend you guys at Anandtech check out and review the Define R3. The internal and external layouts are pretty much identical despite differing aesthetics on the outside. What the R3 has over the Arc Midi, though, is noise insulation all over the case. It also has removable noise insulation pieces for those fan intakes and exhausts that are not occupied by a fan. This way you can choose to have a VERY quiet case, or a very well ventilated case that is still quite quiet.

    I have the R3 with 2 intake fans in the front, 1 intake fan at the bottom and 1 exhaust fan at the back. This creates a nice overpressure that ensures there is minimal dust build-up in the case. When idling, the computer is very quiet. So quiet in fact, that when I come home from somewhere, I can't even hear if the thing is turned on or off (I have a small 1 room apartment). Also the thermals are astonishing. My Gigabyte GTX 560 Ti runs at 34 degrees Celsius when idle, and never reaches 75 degrees Celsius in Furmark.

    The Define R3 cost me 75€ here in Finland (and we have huge taxes on everything), so I think it should be in the same exact price range as the Arc Midi.
  • barry spock - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    Yes, similarly I have the define mini. It has a lot of the same components as the arc here. For me the rubber access grommits did come loose, but apart from that I quite like it.
  • Cyleo - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    Seriously, I've been waiting for this to be reviewed by Anand. I've had a hard time choosing between the R3, Carbide 400R and this one for a couple of weeks now and been hoping Anand would at least review one of them (your reviews can be a real dealbreaker for me). It didn't make my choose any easier, I still love the design of the fractal's and Anand hasn't reviewed the R3 (yet?) but I have some new arguments now. Any tips/suggestions from the other good chaps around here?
  • Kepe - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    As I mentioned in my post above yours, I would definitely recommend the R3. It has the same layout but with very good noise insulation (even on the side panel fan mount) that lets you decide how exactly the air circulates in your case. But I do recommend at least 1 extra intake fan with the R3. With stock cooling, performance isn't that great. It's not bad, but it isn't industry-leading either.
  • hechacker1 - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    I agree.

    I also have the R3, and the stock fan configuration can be lacking depending on your needs.

    1. If you populate all the hard drive bays (it makes an excellent RAID box case), you will need another fan in the front.

    2. If you have a hot chipset, you will either need a bottom or side panel mounted fan. My X58 chipset was crashing due to heat in the summer (110F outside), and putting on a low noise side panel fan solved the issue.

    3. It's default configuration is damn near silent compared to the ambient noise. You could significantly improve it buying a few higher quality low noise fans. And this is on a gaming PC/RAID box config. I can hear the hard drives over the fans.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    I just requested the R3, but I have a pretty hefty backlog of cases to review still.

    Honestly without knowing about the R3, between the 400R and the Arc Midi it's a tough call. I think I'd probably lean toward the Arc Midi, but I'd definitely populate the side vents with low-speed intake fans.
  • Kepe - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    Personally, I don't like side intake fans. A friend of mine actually installed a side intake fan to his rig, but all it did was raise the GPU temperature. This might have something to do with airflow and turbulence messing up the airflow to the GPU fan. Of course the placement of the side panel cutout for the fan affects this too. I don't remember the make and model of the case he uses, but it is a 50-70€ gaming case from a well-known manufacturer.

    If you want more airflow for the GPU, it's at least worth a shot to install a fan to the bottom of the case.
  • Z Throckmorton - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    If your friend has an intake fan at the front of the case towards the bottom, tell him to try that lower side fan as an exhaust rather than as an intake. IME that lowers GPU temperatures.

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