Fractal Design DEFINE R5 Case Review

Front with door open

One thing I must say about “Fractal Design” is they started a whole new trend in computer case manufacturing. This trend was simply to listen seriously to the enthusiasts and the customers, then take their feedback and apply the good ideas and add to later models endeavoring to ever innovate by applying these ideas and concepts in a very intelligent manner to the case building process from the ground up. This concept had been completely unheard of by most of the previous big case companies that were sure they knew exactly what the owners and builders needed. Then comes this new Swedish company who was hungry for the input and for the first time, they listened to the real professional builders and applied their expertise and ever changing needs into a very economical and practical case.

The first time I saw a Fractal Design Case I was watching the famous “Case Builder and Designer Extraordinaire, Mr. Bill Owen” talking about the new case company and how he was about to do a few builds for them to help introduce the product to the enthusiast community. At first I thought, his words were a little hyped. I will admit, I thought the case was really boxie like Lian Li and too simple to be taken seriously. I watched as he built up the company’s new reputation, but Bill was making real sense and I started to realize that he was pointing out things about this short stubby little case that was almost too good to be true. The company was actually talking to enthusiast and builders and that was a miracle. They were also making room for all these specialty items that we had to make room for before then like, custom water loops and 240mm and 360mm radiator and good placement for all of it before any other major brand was applying these options. They started from the clean slate with a new idea and with their expert designing they searched out places to fit a water cooler radiator, pumps, and for wire routing that before then, we modders and builders were having to cut and fit into the cases designs that were never made for the application that we needed. This Scandinavian company was making it all happen without the first Dremel having to be pulled out or opening a “Sketch up” drawing document, so we could make a way to fit the custom parts that we needed to install in them; In simplest terms; we had to work with what the case companies made us take and didn’t bother to listen or read our needs that we openly shared on forums and case clubs committed to one case, but let me tell you the big guys saw these new ideas and more the sale and hype and they got the message quick. Other case companies were scrambling to follow this new business model or die an early death of obsolescence as they watched this unknown company “Fractal Design” come out of nowhere into the main stage and hit the big time in a very short time and in a very big way.

I should have known. Sweden is famous for its minimalistic style and amazing innovation and for over the past 400 years they have been amazing craftsmen of the highest order. Not to mention inventing the measurements of “KNOTS and CELSIUS” as products of Scandinavian hyper-engineering skill, so this little country has always been a nation of thinkers and listeners. “For to learn is to listen, and to listen is to understand: and to understand is to teach: and to teach is to innovate” , Full Circle. The goal of this Scandinavian business is to build precision into everything they make from the simplest screw hole to the aerodynamics inside the case. It’s okay, don’t take my word for it; just think of the brands like, “Georg Jensen”, “Bang Olufsen”, “Skagen Watches” and “Ikea”, for just the tip of the proverbial Iceberg. Technology has gone hand in hand with hyper-sensitive craftsmanship in a minimalistic design formula that for as far as history has taken us has followed the ability and need to design.

The Slogan of Sweden’s child “Fractal Design” is “less is more”. It is a focus of building things that harmonize together, like many different musical instruments playing different parts, but making all the same song. This concept creates a synergy that goes into each part to fit in and to harmonize with the other parts to create a computer case that fits the need, breathes the air and makes the best of what the builder installs between its panels; and each part has no problem getting out of the way or even be packed away, if need be.

This Fractal Design: DEFINE R5 is not the first Fractal Design Define R5 to be assembled by these specifications. There have been others that have come before it and they were and are the Mid-tower silent partner series of the Fractal Design Label. The Fractal Design DEFINE R5 is made for the addition of plenty of parts, custom and not so custom “all in one” units, but they also made it for less noise, deadening vibration, and they have been built to a highest of standards of quality and excellence in and out that seem to defy their economical price.

An example is the simple Power Button that looks like it belongs in a German luxury car and the outer steel and inner insulation is beefy and heavy and you know by just having these parts in your hand that you are not just picking up some cheap lightweight panel cover. The steel panels are heavier than usual and the window is beautifully clear and the isolation is so thorough but not enough to interfere even in the simplest part of cable management, which is usually a trade off most take in stride when buying a quiet and insulated case.

Featured image one

Specifications
– ATX, Micro ATX, Mini-ITX motherboard compatibility
– 7 expansion slots
– 2 – 5.25″ bays (removable)
– 8 – 3.5″ HDD positions (can also accommodate 2.5″ units); 2 – 2.5″ dedicated SSD unit positions
– 4 – “ModuVent”™ modular hard drive plates – three in the top and one in the side
– 9 – Fan placements available (2 Fractal Design Dynamic GP14 140mm fans included)
– Full Face Filters keep the air clean for the fan slots in the front and bottom
– CPU Clearance for Air coolers up to 180mm in height
– ATX PSUs up to 190/170 mm with a bottom 120/140mm fan installed; when not using any bottom fan location longer PSUs up to 300mm can be used
– Graphics cards up to 310 mm in length with the top HDD cage installed; with the top cage removed, graphics cards up to 440 mm in length may be installed
– 20 – 35 mm of space behind motherboard tray for cable routing and management
– Velcro straps included for easy cable management
– Front door can switch opening direction via dual mounting system
– Left side panel features “Quick Release System” for quick and easy access and provides a secure closure of windowed side panel.
– Right side panel features smart captive thumbscrews so no thumbscrews stay with the panel
– Colors available in: Black, Titanium (black case, titanium front panel), White
– Case dimensions (WxHxD): 232mm x 451mm x 521mm
– Case dimensions – with feet/screws/protrusions: 232 x 462 x 531mm / 9.13 x 18.18 x 20.9 inches
– Net weight: 11.2 kg or 24.65 Lbs.
– Package dimensions (WxHxD): 327 x 615 x 540mm / Box size: 12.87 x 24.21 x 21.26 inches
– Package weight: 12.8 kg or 28.21 Lbs.

Key Features:
– Optimally designed for silent computing with high density noise-reducing material throughout the case for maximum sound absorption, while not compromising on airflow and cooling capabilities.
– Extensive water cooling support for a case of this size; housing radiators up to 420mm in the top and 360mm in the front.
– Equipped with new tool-less ModuVent™ fan slot covers allowing the user to install more fans if desired or keep fan slots covered to maximize sound absorption.
– Including two Fractal Design Dynamic GP14 140mm fans developed for superlative airflow while still maintaining low noise levels.
– Maintaining a dust-free interior with the help of dust filters that cover front and bottom air intakes that are easy to access from the front on the case.
– Newly configured front door with dual side mounting to better fit your work space
– Highlighting 2 dedicated SSD mounts cleanly placed behind the motherboard tray that feature innovative new brackets delivering a tool-free installation and removal
– The HDD cage system holds up to eight 3.5” or 2.5” drives and is more adaptable than ever, allowing the user to modify the case layout according to personal preference with more places to relocate the cages
– The ODD cage can easily be removed to gain additional interior space; the area can be freed up to allow for increased airflow, to provide a new place for HDD cage mounting or to make more room for water cooling components.
Sturdy metal HDD trays provide excellent dampening features for the hard drives while providing better airflow through the cage with an updated, more open design
– The new and innovative Quick Release System on the left side of the case provides secure mounting of the left side panel, yet grants quick and easy access to the system.
– Three-speed fan controller is strategically integrated in the front panel and supports up to 3 fans.
Define R5 model is available with window side panel

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