If you’re in the market for an understated, quiet case that performs well and leaves plenty of room for expansion the Fractal Design Define series is quite likely to be on your list of cases to investigate. The latest revision of the case is R4, which draws upon user feedback on the R3 and features a host of minor changes. So how does it fare? Continue reading “Fractal Design Define R4 Review – Part One”
With the release of the Fractal Design Define R4 we have been asked a few times about whether Corsair’s self-contained liquid cooling system will fit in the front. Placement here has a few advantages over placing it in the top of the chassis; noise is reduced, for a start, and if you use the top as an intake you lose the inbuild dust filters. You could use the H100 in an exhaust configuration in the top position but temperatures will not be as good as you will be drawing in warm air from inside the chassis to cool the CPU rather than the cooler, outside air. That leaves the front as an ideal position from the perspective of noise and cooling; the Define R3 did not allow this placement without drilling out the front drive bays. Since the R4 allows you to remove the front drive trays without permanently modifying the chassis, how does the H100 fare in terms of fit? As it turns out, it fits beautifully:
Given that the front has been upgraded to allow the placement of 140mm fans as well as 120mm fans there’s a little bit of space below the cooler; this hasn’t proven to be an issue in our testing though you could easily put a baffle in (foam, tape etc.) if it bothered you. You can see the coolant tube placement here:
There’s a reasonable amount of slack there – it’s definitely not applying an undue amount of pressure on the tubes.
From the front we can see:
You can see the gap at the bottom (and a slight one at the sides) more clearly here. For those concerned about aesthetics, you can’t see anything when the filters are back in place:
Comparing the top to the front mounting in practice the front is notably quieter – and temperatures are a few degrees better, which may be important if you’re pushing the boundaries with the all-in-one units and don’t want to go to a full-blown watercooling setup. It’s well worth the effort to install it in the front rather than top if you don’t need the 3.5″ bays!
Someone asked how we removed the hard drive bays in the Fractal Design R4 builds we’re doing at the moment, so we wrote up a quick post for those who are wondering. If you want to install a radiator to the front of the R4 or are simply using a handful of SSDs and have no need for the 3.5″ drive bays you may wish to remove them; unlike the R3, where they’re riveted in place, the R4 features entirely removable drive bays.
Remove the thumbscrews on the front and the topmost tray will just slide out:
This will leave you with plenty of room to install almost any graphics card you might care to; it also improves airflow from the front uppermost fan as there’s nothing blocking the airflow. The second set of drive trays is a little trickier; have a look under the case for the first set of screws attaching it:
There are four in total here, two of which are clear in the photo. Once they’re removed, unclip the front panel by pressing out the plastic pins that hold it in and you’ll see the front screws holding in the drive tray:
There are only the two you see in the photo here. Once they’re removed, the drive tray lifts right out.
…and the top one:
They’re quite sturdy little units themselves and could certainly be re-purposed elsewhere should you have a need for drive trays!
Now we have a front chassis that’s empty – until you install a radiator, that is… here’s a view of the newfound free space: