Fractal Design Define R5 Computer Case
This case is made by the Swedish, so they do not try to over sell their product by fancy colors and heavy design cues. This is not to say that the case is not engineered to the best of standards, because it is. While the boxie look might look a little ho hum to some that are not acquainted with Fractal Design the engineering of this case have gone through a few generations of updates including a new window side latching system and catch modification that allows you to not have to install the thumb screws on that side at all. All you have to do is reach around and press down on the latch and the case side panel is ready to be removed pulled away without trying to line up all those groves that other cases have. This case could be modified easy for swing action doors but the length of the case would not be good for that configuration so its simply not there. There are a lot of great innovations in this case. But most of it comes on the inside so read the next page where we open up the case, so I will leave you cliff hanging on that, at least, for now.
Gazing at this case is easy to do. The lines are nice and straight and give you the feeling of dependable, craftsmanship and attention to every detail. These qualities are what you get with every Fractal Design case I have ever had the pleasure of using. On a personal note, my wife uses a Fractal Design, ARC Midi Case as her main PC with the Fractal Tesla Power Supply and it has been so easy to maintain and it looks so nice even after the couple of years that she has used it. Clean up is a breeze with this case so you don’t get that 6 month buyers remorse after the filter gets so full of grey dust that you feel like the case is growing hair. Just take pop off the filter with a snap and clean it and pop it back in. Less than 2 minutes and the case is as good as new.
The white on black color scheme and the window is reflective clear and not heavily smoked. The side gills of the intake of this case are hard to notice looking straight on, but at an angle you see the ventilated side moldings and it adds to the simple good looks of this case.
The windowed side being the attractive focal point of most cases does very well in the show and tell department but does not over do it. There is just enough show without showing everyone your uglies. Like in a fashion show revealing too much can be too tacky or even embarrassing, but this case shows off just the right parts to hold your favorite voyeur’s avid gaze.
The back side of the motherboard tray is plain but well painted steel. The paint matches on all sides and this particular back panel keeps the thumb screws to the panel after you loosen them, so you never lose them. This is the parts of this case that I love. The part where they think of the user after the sale; “Less really (IS) more” on this subject.
The control panel is very elegant looking, but not over the top with color or flare but this is the kind of case to paint flames on and it will pop and fit the theme without any trouble. The middle Power button is easy to find in the dark and the left side holds the Microphone input/ Headphone output RCA jacks with a recessed very small and very hard to press Reset button which should be done this way so you don’t accidentally press it. One has to really think about pressing the Reset button down twice and look directly at it to do it because you will need to work hard to engage it so great engineering again for this little add, “Fractal Design”. On the right hand side of the Power Button is the two USB 2.0 and the two USB 3.0 hubs. Some people have complained about the USB 3.0 not be made with the blue colored receptacles as in most cases now-a-days, but it is really something that has become kind of a redundant move since the USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and the extra 5 contacts at the top can kind-of give away the differences between the two. And they are also well labele. So not blue?… Boo Ho.
The front of the case has a little cut-out notch ain the top of the door to allow the user to see the power and activation blue light from the front and the top of the case and other than that there is brushed aluminum look that has a nice look as well. But this is an all steel case, so the brushed look is just that; brushed steel. A simple fancy way to make the case more attractive but the case is really built like a “Volvo”. It’s really tough and dependable, but not so much on the glamour of the glitzy red carpet Ferrari types. In the back there are 7 PCI slots, a Moveable 140MM fan slots, and the power supply can be fan up or fan down position. If you look at the back you can see the new latch mechanism that holds the windowed side panel into place without the need for thumbscrews. This has won me over already because I am constantly opening my window side panel for dusting and to add a newer nicer graphics cards or another peripheral card and even a bottom blower cooling fans to help blow the hot air straight out of the top or back of the case.
The top has these brand new ModuVent™ three piece top covers. I am not a fan of this little invention. The bottoms have these little hooks on one side and then drop in pins on the other side; and they can get broken very easy and I really hope that Fractal works on this more and “Mod’da-Vent” a little more easily uplifting. It’s a great idea and it looks and locks in a little too well, but if you are a guy like me that just tries to open something up without going to the owner’s manual and reading the obvious, you could make a mistake and replacing them back in order is almost as hard as doing Chinese Math. Well, maybe not that difficult, but I did have to redo them 3 times before I got them installed correctly. I was actually contemplating staying at a Holiday Inn Express for the night so I could get them right the next day. In all fairness the individual ModuVent™ is nicely insulated to block air and sound so they are great to keep on and use a really nice Air Cooler inside the case. Just not for guys like me.
The top vent and radiator mounting area can be difficult to see so I marked all bolt holes with green colors below to help installation after you buy this awesome case.
The bottom is amazing great. Very breezy for radiators or just as old school bottom ventilation of your power supply but the dust filter is really super easy to take out and clean from the front of all places and replacing it is so easy you may forgive them for inventing the ModuVent™. As in other brands, where you have to pull out the whole case to pull the filter out the back or to tip over the case to get to the filter like others on the side, this one is just open the door and pull from the front and then get it back on track after cleaning and let it slide back in “easy peasy”.
NOTE: If you need to remove the front face panel PLEASE first take out the dust vent from the bottom or you could damage the vent or the panel as the front panel slot loads to the panel and the case to render the filter into place.
Also I really like the chrome looking feet. I know they are only plastic covers but it doesn’t matter to me. The inside of the feet are rigid rubber bumpers that are screwed in and who cares if they didn’t really make them out of chrome. They look great to me. For me it is one of the high points of the look of any case. I love nice shoes on my cases anyway, don’t you?