Fractal Design Define R3 ATX Tower

Cases|Damping
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Fractal Design Define R3 ATX Tower

April 13, 2011 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Fractal Design Define R3
ATX Midtower Case
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$110

The Define R3 is an update to the successful Define R2 from Fractal Design, a rookie case manufacturer. The R2 ATX midtower chassis took more than a few cues from the classic noise-conscious Antec P180. A few corners were cut to make the price more competitive, and the end result was a surprisingly quiet midrange case with broad appeal.


The box.

From the outside, the Define R3 looks identical to the R2. Generally speaking, gaming cases scream out for attention, both visually and audibly, while silent cases strive to neither be heard or seen. In this respect, the Define R2/R3 stands firmly in the silent camp, with a sleek understated look and dimensions just large enough to comfortably house the majority of popular components. The R3 is available in four different color schemes, with our sample being the "Arctic White" model.


The R3, Arctic White.

There are only two significant changes to the R3. One is a change to the bitumen/foam damping which lines the inside of the side and top panels. Though they worked well at blocking noise, many users complained about the smell of the bitumen sheets when the R2 was first introduced, while others reported that the sheets began to peel off over time. According to Fractal Design,

"The only change that's been made since the R2 is that there's a textile cover over the bitumen, making it a nicer look. The sound proofing characteristics are the same.

"The concern that we had from some early revisions of R2 about the case smelling, was not from the bitumen, it was from the rubber grommets over the M/B cable routing holes. We immediately changed the rubber type and the problem is gone since long."

(Editor's Note: In a meeting at CES 2011, Fractal Design staff informed me that the adhesive used to bond the damping sheets to the case panels is much improved. While bitumen is basically a heavy petroleum with all that this implies, any potential for toxicity in the form used in the R2 case is very low. Just don't peel it off and burn it or put it in your compost!)

Secondly, the two stock fans have been replaced with higher speed models, perhaps in an attempt to curry favor with those who put more value on cooling and airflow. This potentially makes the case more versatile at the cost of higher noise. However, the R3 ships with the same manual fan speed controller as its predecessor, which could mitigate any increase in noise from the fan swap.

Fractal Design Define R3: Product Details
(from the product web page)
Key Features
* Stunning front panel design
* Patent pending ModuVent™ design, allowing the user to either have optimal silence or optimal airflow
* Pre-fitted with dense, noise absorbing material
* 8(!) white painted HDD-trays, with silicone mounting
* A total of 7 fan slots (2x120mm in front, 2x 120/140mm in top, 1x120mm in back, 1x 120/140mm in side panel, 1x 120/140mm in bottom)
* 2x 120mm Fractal Design 120mm fans included
* Fan controller for 3 fans included
* Easily removable front fan filters with clip-on holders for 120mm fans
* Supports graphic card lengths up to circa 290mm and CPU coolers with height of maximum circa 165mm
* Supports PSU's with a depth of maximum circa 170mm, when using bottom 120/140mm fan location. When not using the bottom 120/140mm fan location, the case supports also longer PSU's, typically 200-220mm.
Cooling system
* Fan controller for 3 fans included
* 1 rear Fractal Design 120mm @ 1350rpm included
* 1 front Fractal Design 120mm @ 1350rpm included
* 1 front 120mm fan (optional)
* 1 bottom 120mm/140mm fan (optional)
* 1 side panel 120mm/140mm fan (optional)
* 2 top 120mm/140mm fan (optional)
Specifications
* 8x 3,5 inch HDD trays, compatible with SSD!
* 2x 5,25 inch bays, with 1x 5,25>3,5 inch converter included
* On top of front panel: 2x USB 2.0, 1x eSATA and Audio I/O
* No PSU included (removable filter below PSU)
* M/B compatibility: Mini ITX, Micro ATX and ATX
* 7x expansion slots with sleek white painted brackets
* Supports graphic card lengths up to ~290mm
* Supports CPU coolers with height of ~165mm
* Supports PSU's with a depth of maximum circa 170mm, when using bottom 120/140mm fan location. When not using the bottom 120/140mm fan location, the case supports also longer PSU's, typically 200-220mm.
* Case size (WxHxD): 207.40x442x521.2mm
* Net weight: 12.50kg


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