Where desktops are concerned, some may consider bigger to be better, but sometimes, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a simple, classy-looking PC that you can barely hear. Helping to make that scenario a reality is Fractal Design, with its sound-dampened mid-tower Define R4. Let’s check it out.
While most people are excited about what’s happened at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, I’m sitting here pumped about today’s review, because I’m finally getting my hands on a piece of kit from a company that has impressed me since I first stumbled across it a few years back.
Sweden-based Fractal Design has been releasing cases, power supplies, fans and accessories for years and we have one of its newest products, the Define R4 mid-tower case, on the review table today. The R4 is the 4th generation Define and aims to further improve on previous models.
Many of Fractal Design’s cases might fly under the radar of some enthusiasts since they choose to go with a “less is more” approach, at least on the outside. Luckily, our radar does a pretty wide sweep, so let’s get started.
The Define R4 comes in three flavours; Titanium Grey, Arctic White and Black Pearl – the latter of which being the model that we’ve received. It’s made primarily of steel and can support mini-ITX, micro-ATX and ATX motherboards.
As always, we’ll start at the front where the plastic foam-lined door has been textured to give it the look of brushed aluminum. It opens from the right to reveal two vented 5.25″ bay covers and the 3-channel, 3-speed fan control switch to the right. The rest of the front panel is taken up by a large removable dust filter that hides Fractal Design’s own 140mm Silent Series R2 fan with room for another 120mm/140mm fan if needed.
Our review sample has mounting points for an optional 120mm/140mm fan on the solid left panel, but there is a windowed model available. Just in front of the side panels are additional vents that run down the plastic trim to provide extra air flow.
Around back at the top is a vented area, the motherboard I/O opening and another 140mm fan with mounting points for a 120mm unit. Further down are the seven white PCI slot covers, a vertical PCI slot to the right and the power supply opening at the bottom.
The right panel is completely solid so we’ll move up to the top where the I/O area is located along the front edge. From left to right are the 3.5mm microphone and headphone ports, the reset and illuminated power buttons, two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. Towards the rear of the top panel are two removable covers that can be replaced by 120mm/140mm fans or, depending on the configuration, even a 240mm radiator.
With the case upside down we see the four rubber feet to help absorb any vibrations, the mounting points for an optional 120mm/140mm fan and a removable dust filter that covers the fan and power supply intake areas.
Before looking at the interior, have a gander at the inside of the side panels. Each is coated in a sound-dampening material that looks like a rubber compound on the outside with a thin foam insert. Even the fan area on the left panel (as well as the two on the top panel) has an extra thick, removable foam insert to help keep sound trapped inside the case.
With the panel off we see that the hard drive cage at the front is in two sections, so users can remove either one based on their needs. Each of the eight, white drive trays can support 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives, while 5.25″ drives can be mounted without tools in the bays above. The motherboard tray features large, grommet-lined holes across the top, bottom and down the right side and a large cut out around the CPU area.
Included with the R4 are all of the screws needed to keep components secure, motherboard standoffs, zip ties, extra rubber washers for mounting the optional fans, a manual and a notice about returning the case to Fractal Design rather than the retailer if there are any issues.
Up next we install our newly modified test system and see how Fractal Design’s latest creation performs.