Noise and Thermal Testing, Stock

My frame of reference for the Fractal Design Define R3's internal design may be Corsair's line, but for performance I'm actually more interested in seeing how it compares against Antec's elegantly silent Solo II and NZXT's 90%-of-the-way-there H2. The Solo II may have run hot, but it was also the quietest case we'd tested. Meanwhile, NZXT's enclosure suffered from the design flaw of having no real ventilation for the intake fans to pull air through. That was a concern I had with the R3, but the ventilation is definitely there.

CPU Temperatures, Stock

Chipset Temperatures, Stock

GPU Temperatures, Stock

DIMM Temperatures, Stock

SSD Temperatures, Stock

Thermally the R3 isn't as big a winner as we'd really like, but it beats the Solo II and H2, and given its intended purpose a middle-of-the-road thermal performance isn't bad at all. And as I've mentioned before, if you're willing to sacrifice a little silence for more performance, there are plenty of ways to go about doing so.

Stock Noise Levels

The R3 winds up ranking among our quietest enclosures tested at both idle and load, beating NZXT's H2 and trading blows with the Antec Solo II while delivering superior thermal performance. If nothing else, Fractal Design has achieved a nice balance here and easily steals the show from the equivalently priced H2.

Testing Methodology Noise and Thermal Testing, Overclocked
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  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, November 11, 2011 - link

    Everyone's a comedian.
  • 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).
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Peskarik - Saturday, November 12, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the suggestion!
  • 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.

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