Fractal Design Define R4 Case Review
By Gabriel Torres on July 20, 2012


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

Fractal Design is releasing today the Define R4, a mid-tower case targeted to silent computing. This means that the case has foam pads everywhere to dampen the noise produced by the computer. Let’s take a look at it.

This case is available in three choices of color: black, arctic white, and titanium gray. We reviewed the black version.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 1: Fractal Design Define R4 case

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 2: Fractal Design Define R4 case

The left panel has a mesh for you to install a 120 mm or 140 mm fan. However, this mesh comes closed with a sheet of foam in order to lower the noise level produced by the computer.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 3: Left panel

The Front Panel

The Fractal Design Define R4 comes with a front door. While many users don’t like doors, on cases targeted to silent computing they are a necessity, as they carry a sheet of foam to reduce the noise produced by the PC.

Luckily, the buttons and connectors from the case are not behind the door. This was a mistake made by several manufacturers in the past, as you would need to open the door to press the power button. To install devices on the USB ports you also would need to keep the door open, which is counterproductive.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 4: The front door

The case has two external 5.25” bays and comes with a 140 mm hydraulic-bearing fan (Fractal Design Silent Series R2, 1,000 rpm). On its default configuration, this fan cools down the top hard drive cage. You can move it down if you want to cool down the bottom hard drive cage, or you can install a second fan, which can be either a 120 mm or a 140 mm model. The installation of a second 140 mm fan can be done without the use of screws or tools, thanks to the tool-less mechanism available. There is an air filter for these fans. Optionally, you can remove the front fans to install a 240 mm radiator.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 5: The front panel

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 6: The front panel

The case has a three-speed fan controller on the upper-right corner of the front panel, which allows the connection of up to three fans.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 7: The three-speed fan controller

The Top, Bottom, and Rear Panels

The top panel of the Fractal Design Define R4 is meshed and supports the installation of two 140 mm fans. The mesh on the top panel comes closed with foam in order to reduce the amount of noise generated by the computer.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 8: Top panel

The case comes with two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and the traditional audio jacks. The USB 3.0 ports use an internal connector.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 9: Buttons and connectors

The bottom panel has a big air filter for the power supply fan and for the optional bottom fan.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 10: Bottom panel

The rear panel and the interior of the Fractal Design Define R4 are painted black.

The case has seven expansion slots, using vented covers. A transversal slot is available for you to install a bracket containing I/O ports or a blower to pull hot air from inside the computer to the outside of it.

The rear panel comes with another 140 mm hydraulic-bearing fan (Fractal Design Silent Series R2, 1,000 rpm), which can also be connected to the available three-speed fan controller.

On the Fractal Design Define R4, the power supply goes on the bottom part of the case.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 11: Rear panel

Let’s now take a look inside the Fractal Design Define R4.

Inside the Fractal Design Define R4

Both panels are attached to the chassis using black thumbscrews. The side panels are heavy, each weighing 5 Lbs (2.2 kg). They have a nice-looking sheet of dampening material applied to them. In Figure 12, you can see the inside of the left-side panel. In this picture you can also see the sheet of foam that comes covering the mesh for the optional fan.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 12: The left-side panel

The motherboard tray has a huge hole for you to access the backplate of the CPU cooler without having to remove the motherboard from the case, a few holes protected with rubber covers for you to route cables behind it, and several metallic clips for you to fasten cables using cable ties. One small but important detail present on the Define R4 is that the distance between the motherboard tray and the right side panel is longer than the distance usually found on cases. This makes thicker cables such as the motherboard main power cable fit better behind the motherboard tray.

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Figure 13: Overall look

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 14: A view behind the motherboard tray

Figure 15 gives you another overall look inside the case. Expansion cards are fastened using black thumbscrews. The Fractal Design Define R4 supports video cards up to 11.4” (290 mm) long on its default configuration or up to 16.5” (420 mm) if the top hard drive cage is removed. The case supports the installation of a 240 mm radiator on its top panel.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 15: Overall look

As already explained, the power supply is installed at the bottom of the case. Note that it can be installed with either its bottom fan facing up or facing down, so you can decide if you want the fan of your power supply pulling air from inside the case or from outside of it. As already shown, there is an air filter for the power supply fan. The case comes with a foam frame to reduce the noise generated by the power supply.

The case supports the installation of an additional 120 mm or 140 mm fan on its bottom panel. When no fan is installed, you can install a power supply up to 11.8” (300 mm) deep. With a 120 mm fan installed, you can install a power supply up to 7.1” (180 mm) deep. And with a 140 mm fan installed, you can have a power supply up to 6.5” (165 mm) deep. The air filter for the power supply fan also covers the bottom fan.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 16: Power supply compartment

The Disk Drive Bays

The Fractal Design Define R4 has two 5.25” external bays, eight 3.5”/2.5” internal bays, and two 2.5” bays behind the motherboard tray.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 17: Disk drive bays

The case has two hard drive cages. The upper one has five 3.5”/2.5” bays, and the bottom one has three 3.5”/2.5” bays. The top cage can be easily removed (it is fastened to the case using thumbscrews) if you want to install video cards longer than 11.4” (290 mm) or if you want to improve the airflow inside the case, as it won’t be blocking the front fan anymore. The lower hard drive cage is also removable, but it is attached to the chassis using regular screws.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 18: The case with its top hard drive cage removed

The case has rubber rings to reduce the vibration and noise produced by 3.5” hard drives.

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 19: One of the 3.5”/2.5” bays

Fractal Design Define R4 case
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Figure 20: The two 2.5” bays behind the motherboard tray

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Fractal Design Define R4 include:

Conclusions

The Fractal Design Define R4 is a very nice case for users worried about the noise level produced by the PC. The quality is top-notch and its price is right, making the Define R4 a terrific buy.

Strong Points

Weak Points

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Fractal-Design-Define-R4-Case-Review/1600


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