Fractal’s original Arc Midi chassis impressed us enough to become the base of our CPU cooler testing rig, so when we heard that a sequel to it was released, we couldn’t wait to check it out. With its beefy feature-set, semi modular design, support for up to a 240mm radiator and a $70 price tag, this mid-tower might just be the one to beat.
All of our testing is performed in a near steady 20°C ambient environment with readings taken before and after with a standard room thermometer. AIDA64 Extreme Engineer is used for monitoring and recording all system temperatures throughout the testing process.
Windows is allowed to sit idle for 10 minutes after startup to ensure all services are loaded before recording the idle CPU and GPU temperatures. CPU load temperatures are generated by performing a 20 minute run of OCCT LINPACK using 90% of the available memory, while GPU load temperatures are generated by OCCT’s built in test, also for 20 minutes.
Stock CPU settings were obtained by setting the AI Tweaker option with the BIOS to Auto and the maximum stable overclock frequency of 4.0GHz was obtained after extensive testing to ensure stability. The final clocks for the GPU are 760MHz on the core and 1000MHz QDR (4000MHz relative) for the memory with the voltage increased to 1.087V using MSI’s Afterburner overclocking utility. As with the CPU overclock, testing was done prior to ensure full stability.
The components used for testing are:
|Techgage Chassis Testing System|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-661 – Dual-Core (3.33GHz)|
|Motherboard||ASUS P7H55D-M EVO mATX – H55-based|
|Memory||Corsair Dominator 2x2GB DDR3-1600 7-8-7-20-2T|
|Graphics||EVGA GeForce GTX 470|
|Storage||Western Digital 2TB Green|
|Power Supply||Antec TP-750 Blue|
|Chassis||Cooler Master Cosmos II
Cooler Master Storm Scout 2
Corsair Carbide 400R
Corsair Obsidian 550D
Corsair Obsidian 650D
Corsair SE White 600T
Fractal Design Arc Midi R2
Fractal Design Define R4
NZXT Switch 810
Silverstone Raven RV03
Thermaltake Chaser MK-1
Thermaltake Level 10 GT
|CPU Cooling||Corsair H60 (Exhaust Config) (All but Define R4 & Arc Midi R2)
Thermaltake Jing (Only Define R4 & Arc Midi R2)
|Et cetera||Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit|
With all of the components running at stock frequencies, things looked right on the money, although the maximum CPU load temperature was a few degrees warmer than when we tested another one of Fractal Design’s cases, the Define R4.
This trend continued when running the same load tests while overclocked. On this run, the CPU was a single degree warmer at 65ºC, while the GPU stayed steady at 93ºC.
Since we run all of the case fans at 100% during testing, it gives us a good idea of just how loud a case will be. I’m happy to report that only the faint rush of air could be heard. Well, until the fan on the GPU kicked in at least.
Ok, moving on…
From a personal standpoint, I love Fractal Design’s cases. There’s very little flash, but loads of function, inside and out, and with the Arc Midi R2, things get even better.
The inclusion of a split connector for the combo USB 3.0/2.0 ports means that your front USB ports will always be usable regardless of the configuration of your motherboard. What’s more, support for some of the largest radiators around is added to an already fantastic list of features carried on over from the original Arc Midi, which I liked so much, I chose to use it for our CPU cooler test system.
The build quality is top-notch, there’s lots of flexibility with regards to hard drive configuration, tons of room to work in, enough space on the back of the motherboard tray to tuck away a ton of cables, and a built-in fan controller. What’s not to like?
Despite the front panel audio cable that might be too short to cleanly run behind the motherboard in some cases, and a reset button that’s so small I could only press it using something pointy, the Arc Midi 2 is a winner in every sense of the word.
For some, it all comes down to dollars and cents, and to me, this is where the Arc Midi R2 really shines. At ~$70 US, it’s an absolute steal. I’ve tinkered with cases that cost $100 or more, but had similar features and build quality. If you’re a budget conscious builder that would rather have more dash than flash without sacrificing quality, keep this case in mind.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that the Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 is the proud recipient of our Editor’s Choice award!
Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 Mid-Tower Chassis