Fractal Design Define R4 Case Review: Evolution, Not Revolutionby Dustin Sklavos on July 20, 2012 6:00 AM EST
- Posted in
- Fractal Design
Introducing the Fractal Design Define R4
Around November of last year we had a chance to take a look at one of the most popular enclosures from up-and-comer Fractal Design, the Define R3. Impressions were good if not absolutely amazing, but it was easy to see how the case had gotten so popular. A competitive price tag, solid acoustics, understated aesthetics, and fairly flexible design all conspired to produce a case that could conceivably be a silver bullet for a lot of users.
Today Fractal Design is launching their next revision of the Define, the R4. It's easy to mistake it for its predecessor, but as is often the case, the devil is in the details. Fractal Design hasn't radically tweaked the formula, but they've rounded some of the edges and added more value to their design without making very many sacrifices in the process. They've done a lot to improve the Define in the R4, but have they done enough?
Incremental evolution isn't altogether unheard of in the enclosure business, but I'm used to seeing vendors release outright new models or heavily revamp existing ones instead of steadily iterating like Fractal Design has done with the Define. I can see users being a bit underwhelmed by the changes Fractal Design has made to the Define with the R4, and I myself am a bit underwhelmed, but let's see if we can't unpack things and get to the heart of what they've done and haven't done.
|Fractal Design Define R4 Specifications|
|Motherboard Form Factor||Mini-ITX, Micro ATX, ATX|
|Drive Bays||External||2x 5.25”|
|Internal||8x 2.5"/3.5", 2x 2.5"|
|Cooling||Front||1x 140mm intake fan, 1x 120mm/140mm fan mount|
|Rear||1x 140mm exhaust fan|
|Top||2x 120mm/140mm fan mounts|
|Side||1x 140mm fan mount|
|Bottom||1x 120mm/140mm fan mount|
|I/O Port||2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic|
|Power Supply Size||Standard ATX|
|PSU||170mm with bottom fan, 270mm without|
|GPU||11.6"/295mm with drive cage, 430mm without|
9.13" x 18.27" x 20.59"
232mm x 464mm x 523mm
|Weight||27.12 lbs. / 12.3kg|
USB 3.0 connectivity via internal headers
Removable drive cages
Integrated three-step fan controller
Support for 240mm radiator in top of enclosure
The Define R4 is ever so slightly larger than the R3 and features essentially everything you already liked about the R3, making it a pretty direct replacement of its predecessor in much the same way as Antec's P182 obsoleted the P180. Fractal Design parted ways with eSATA in the I/O cluster in favor of a pair of USB 2.0 and a pair of USB 3.0 ports and it's a good transition. eSATA never seemed to quite catch fire; USB 3.0 offers most of the bandwidth with much easier connectivity and fewer hiccups. Meanwhile, I still don't think we're at the point where we can completely deprecate USB 2.0 in favor of 3.0, so having them both represented on the front of the case is appreciated.
Post Your CommentPlease log in or sign up to comment.
View All Comments
buildingblock - Friday, July 20, 2012 - linkThe move to 140mm fans for intake and exhaust is particularly welcomed, time to move on from the 120s.
HisDivineOrder - Friday, July 20, 2012 - linkI'll agree with you once all the PWM fan makers start making fans in 140mm varieties. Right now, for great fans you choose between PWM and 140mm. That's not a choice that you should have to make.
You'd think Corsair would be on the forefront of fixing this, seeing as they just released a premium fan line AND have cases that could use said fans. But no, they in fact released NO PWM fans at all.
Until that day, 120mm needs to stay the standard.
prophet001 - Friday, August 10, 2012 - linkHere is a link to some 140mm PWM fans. I just used the Akasa Vipers in my build and they're great fans. They can move as much air as your need or they can throttle to very quiet levels. I highly recommend them.
btb - Friday, July 20, 2012 - linkI have both and R2 and R3 and really like them. The only thing I wish they would improve on is getting rid of the ugly top of the case, it detracts significantly from an otherwise very nice looking case. How big a percentage of the buyers of these cases do actually use the top exhausts? I'm guessing below 5%.
Dustin Sklavos - Friday, July 20, 2012 - linkWell, the idea is to make space for a 240mm radiator or a closed-loop like the Corsair H100, but the problem is that clearance for radiators there just isn't good.
piroroadkill - Friday, July 20, 2012 - linkYeah, I think they need to use a Lian-Li style blanking plate, where it fits almost completely flush, leaving a smooth finish, but the user then has to supply a wire grill later.
beginner99 - Friday, July 20, 2012 - linkI use it! make sense to have airflow from bottom/front to top as hot air flows up naturally anyway.
piroroadkill - Friday, July 20, 2012 - linkThis article has disappeared from the homepage! I can't read it anymore :(
piroroadkill - Friday, July 20, 2012 - linkAh, NDA, NDA, thought so. It's all good!
themossie - Friday, July 20, 2012 - linkNeither the "next page" or menu to choose article pages is working - they both return me to the Anandtech.com page.
Other articles work fine.
Is this just me, or is something wrong?