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There's no denying that the Arc Mini R2 is built on the same foundations
as the Define
Mini. And why wouldn't it be? It's a sound core, a microATX tower with
excellent acoustic performance, noise prevention features, and the familiar
elegant minimalist aesthetic that Fractal Design has been evangelizing since
its inception. However, the Arc Mini R2 takes the basic blueprints and goes
in a different direction, one that is accommodating of a larger, broader audience.
The chassis appeals more to enthusiasts, with increased ventilation at the top
to accommodate large radiators (which seem to be all the rage these days), an
additional stock 140 mm exhaust fan, including SSD mounts behind the motherboard
tray, and a vanity window on the side panel.
All these changes alone would have been fine but unfortunately they also took
away key features. The aluminum door is the most noticeable omission, removed
in favor of a more accessible front bezel with a less appealing plastic construction.
Inside, the noise absorbent sheets have vanished, and the once solid hard drive
mounting system is no more. The drive caddies use a similar design to those
of yore but they fit noticeably looser than in previous Fractal models, making
them more prone to hard drive vibration. Basically, most of the things that
we loved about Fractal and the Define series has been removed, leaving behind
a case with less cachet for a silent PC enthusiast.
As microATX cases go, the Arc Mini R2 is a fantastic performer, but it lives in the long shadow of the Define Mini which is still available and priced the same, about US$100. We prefer the former the Arc Mini R2 adds some minor improvements which we wouldn't mind seeing in an updated version of the Define Mini, however, what is subtracted from the equation is substantial. Fractal's desire to expand beyond the niche they started out from is understandable we just wish it didn't cost them their identity. Remove the branding and change the black/white color scheme, and we probably wouldn't recognize who built this case.
Our thanks to Fractal Design
for the Arc Mini R2 case sample.
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Articles of Related Interest
Fractal Design Node 304 Mini-ITX Case
BitFenix Phenom Mini-ITX Case
Chenbro SR30169 Mini-ITX Server Chassis
Silverstone ML05 mini-ITX HTPC Case
SilverStone Grandia GD07 & GD08 Media Center Cases
Fractal Design Define Mini MicroATX Tower
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this article in the SPCR Forums.
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