Fractal Design Arc Mini R2 MicroATX Tower

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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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Fractal Design Define Mini MicroATX Tower

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