Fractal Design Define R4 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

by Ryan Perry on January 18, 2013 in Cases & PSUs

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.

Final Thoughts

Hell yes! This case has it all.

On the outside, the clean, subdued look is a hit with me and I love the fact that the door was made to look like brushed aluminum instead of being left as a boring chunk of shiny plastic. It really takes a low cost item and makes it look richer. The basic, uncluttered front I/O looks great as well with just enough flash in the form of the illuminated ring around the power button and accent in front of it.

On the inside there are enough features to keep everybody happy. There’s loads of room for hard drives, enough space behind the motherboard tray to neatly tuck meters worth of cables, support for large radiators, and sound-dampening material in just about every location to keep noise to a minimum.

Fractal Design Define R4 Mid-Tower Chassis

The fact that this material is thinner and denser than the typical foam commonly used means that less warm air is trapped within it, which can drive temperatures up.

Aside from the clearance issue with top 3.5″ bay, the fit and finish was perfect. I’m not sure if the screws being too long is an isolated occurrence, but it’s something that Fractal Design should have a look at because it’s such an easy fix.

Of course, we have touch on the price-point, which is about on par for what you get. One popular online retailer has the windowed model listed for $119 US, while the non-windowed version is going for $109. Shopping around a little, I found the model that we received on sale for $99 CDN, so for a case like this to break the sub-$100 mark is a real steal.

Fractal Design Define R4 Mid-Tower Chassis

The Define R4 would be a top candidate if I were in the market for a new case so it’s certainly worth a look if you are.


  • High build quality
  • Understated look (if you’re into that sort of thing)
  • Lots of room for expandability
  • Keeps a system as quiet as possible


  • Clearance issue with the top 3.5″ drive bay

Fractal Design Define R4

Page List

1. Introduction
2. Installation & Testing
3. Final Thoughts

  • Marfig

    Fantastic case! Really with the type of look I’m a fan of. Thanks for the review.

    The only downside is this slow move we will have to necessarily experience to USB 3.0. For a while it will limit the number of available frontal USB ports. I’d love an aggressive full frontal 4x USB 3.0 port version to be added to the windowed alternative. In fact, being Fractal Design so interesting in their KISS approach to design, it’s a little disappointing that they choose to go with form instead of function by offering instead a windowed version.

    Also, what’s the reason why the Jing cooler showed up skewed? The motherboard’s or the actual cooler?

  • xOptix78

    Here’s the installation instructions for the Jing:

    The two arms that fit down over the four bolts in each corner are adjustable to allow for different sockets and when tightened they shifted ever so slightly. This wasn’t apparent until the cooler itself was secured.

    Contact is bang on as I removed the cooler to check where the thermal interface material was making contact so it became a non-issue as far as performance is concerned. Aesthetically speaking, you can be damned sure I’ll be fixing it for the next review.

  • Frank

    I once owned a case with the optical drive behind a door. Much too inconvenient. Never again. Otherwise this case would have been a winner.

    • Rob Williams

      I can see that, but for me the enhanced aesthetic is worth it. I don’t use ODDs too often, but I could see how it’d be really inconvenient if you do.

      • Frank

        Thanks for your reply.
        You’re right. Others may not see it that way! I should have wrote, “otherwise this case would have been a winner ‘for me’.”

        • Rob Williams

          Haha, I understand ;-) I have a Corsair 800D and kind of hate the exposed ODDs, just because that aesthetic is lost. It’d be helpful if all front panel ODDs and other things were styled the same, but not so, usually.