Thanks for the replies guys. I am currently undecided, like a woman.
Another way I would put this is that it will not be good at noise insulation but this is only an issue if you put loud components in it. Slow moving fans in an open mesh case can be quieter than fast moving fans in a very tightly closed case so it depends on the rest of the build, I wouldn't do it with a noisy graphics card for example.
You might struggle on that budget but perhaps look at something no nonsense like an Antec NSK 4000 or perhaps the more expensive Solo II.
I'm slowly reconsidering the Core 3000, since it is cheaper than the Define. But overall it's still expensive compared to other cases I've seen and which (with some luck) might work just fine in my situation. An example I'd like to throw in is the InterTech SY-608
, which is cheaper (~$45), has most of my requirements, and it only sports 5¼" drives. For drive mounting I can use elastics, and for a HDD fan, which the case does not support directly, I could either stick a fan at the back somehow, even though the case is not designed for it, and maybe even poke some holes in the front panel for extra ventilation (if you take a look at the pictures, it has some holes that resemble ventilation holes in the design of the front panel, maybe I can "reuse" those); or I could just somehow add a fan at the back of the HDDs. Should be possible. This case is much cheaper and I think it might be worth the modding fuss, since it wouldn't take long. Thoughts?
I've taken a look at the Antec NSK 4000, and it doesn't meet my requirement of having the USB ports at the top of the front panel. Same goes for Solo II, and it only has 2 drive bays out of my required 5. Plus they're both just as expensive as the Fractal Design cases.
There's the NZXT Source 210/220. You could perhaps also consider the Fractal Design Arc Midi which is practically a R4 without the noise dampening features.
The NZXT Source 210 and 220 look fine as far as design goes, they're relatively cheap, but I've noticed the drive mounting system is plain metal on metal, with no vibration dampening, which I'd like to have. Is it possible to mod it somehow?
I've taken a look at the Arc Midi as well, and it looks nice, but it turns out it's just as expensive as the Define R4
I'll wait for more case model ideas and opinions.