Fractal Design Define R3 ATX Tower

Cases|Damping
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TESTING

As the case interior is almost identical to the R2, and there are no changes to the exterior/frame to affect thermal performance, we opted not to run the R3 through our usual, rigorous testing procedures. For thermal results, see our Define R2 review; there should be no appreciable difference between the two. We did test the baseline noise of the case, as different system fans were included.

Baseline Noise

The only change in the R3 that has a meaningful impact on noise output are the case fans. The R2 uses Fractal's Silent Series 120 mm fans which spin at approximately 1000 RPM at full speed. The R3 fans have a different design, and are rated for 1350 RPM.



Old fan above, new fan below.

The R3 fans have the same model number as those used previously but they are higher speed variants with differently shaped blades. The blades on the previous fans had almost straight trailing edges, resulting in a hook or boot-like shape. These new ones are curved, creating a more symmetrical design.

Specifications: Fractal Design Define R3 Stock Fan
Manufacturer
Fractal
Power
?
Model
FD-FAN-120
Airflow
?
Bearing Type
?
Speed
1350 RPM
Corners
Open
Noise
?
Frame Size
120 x 25 mm
Header
3-pin
Fan Diameter
111 mm
Start voltage
< 3.0 V
Hub Size
40 mm
Weight
120 g
Data in green cells provided by the manufacturer or observed; data in the blue cells were measured.

Baseline Noise Level
Fan Voltage
Fan RPM
SPL @1m ( dBA)
Rear Fan
Front Fan
Combined
12V
1260
26
22~23
27~28
9V
1040
22
18
23~24
7V
890
18
13
18~19
5V
700
13~14
11~12
14
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front of case.

With a higher maximum speed, the new fans measure considerably higher in SPL than the earlier models. Combined, the front and rear fans of the R2 measured only 15 dBA@1m at 12V. The R3 fans start out at 27~28 dBA and don't reach 15 dBA until they are undervolted to close to 5V. The included fan controller can only bring fans down to about 6V, so additional fan control measures are required to make the R3 stock fans as quiet as the R2's.

The new fans do sound better at comparable SPLs. The R2 fans had a noticeable tick in their acoustic signature audible even at one meter distance. The R3 fans are far more pleasant, with no ticking at all, and only a slight droney quality at higher fan speeds. They sound very smooth overall. We should also note that the front fan position is quieter with the door guarding it.


The stock fans measure 14 dBA@1m at 5V, producing mainly low frequency noise at 400 Hz or lower.



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