Fractal Design Arc XL Case

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System Configuration:

Measurement and Analysis Tools

System temperatures and noise levels were recorded with SpeedFan and GPU-Z at idle, and on load using CPUBurn (K7 setting) and FurMark, an OpenGL benchmarking and stability testing utility.

Baseline Noise

One of the Arc XL's three stock 140 mm fans.

The Arc XL's three 140 mm stock fans are screwed to the front, top, and rear of the case. These 3-pin fans belong to Fractal's Silent Series R2 line, and have a nominal speed of 1000 RPM, relatively low compared to most stock case fans from other manufacturers. They can be hooked up to the built-in three speed (5V/7V/12V) fan controller to slow them further.

Stock Fan Measurements
Avg. Speed
SPL @1m
960 RPM
30 dBA
760 RPM
23~24 dBA
640 RPM
18 dBA
460 RPM
15 dBA
*Integrated fan controller incapable of this voltage.
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front of case.

Any kind of fan control is always a nice feature on a case but the three speeds offered leave a big gap. The fans produced an almost inaudible 15 [email protected] at 5V, a relatively quiet 18 [email protected] at 7V, and a loud 30 [email protected] at 12V. Ideally you want a good cross-section of speeds to match the noise generated by the other components, and the hole between 18 dBA and 30 dBA is sizable. We imagine 9V (23~24 [email protected]) is close to the sweet spot for many systems but they aren't achievable without using other means. An adjustable knob/dial would have been preferable for more granular control.

In our opinion, the stock fans had a generally pleasant sound and this is backed up by frequency analysis, which revealed no major tonal peaks at either 7V and 9V. At close proximity, there was some audible bearing chatter and clicking but these minor negative qualities weren't noticeable under normal circumstances; they faded away into the background with the noise emitted by the rest of the system and were well-muffled by the side panels.

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