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Fractal Design Arc Mini

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #51 in Computer Cases

Posted

Pros: Room for watercooling, looks

Cons: Screws are hard to work with,

PROS:

This case has been my choice for a MATX watercooled build due to the rad space it offers: 240 on top, 240 on front (just barely) and another 120 at the bottom as well as the great simple and modern looks.

Also, the case comes with a lot of fan filters, which is a very nice touch.

There is plenty of room for long cards by removing the top HDD cage and the stock fans are pretty decent.

 

CONS:

The only problem I had with this case were the screws, which were extremely tight from the factory and  they couldn't be screwed out, they would just turn, particularly the ones on the expansion slots. The only way to remove them was breaking them and using the case as a lever, which made the screw holes bigger and bent them, so they were basically not useful anymore. Now i need to put a bigger screw in that hole to hold the GPU.

I would have RMA'd the case but I read other people had the same issues and I though I would probably get another case with the same issues, so I kept it.

The only other issue with the case was the bottom HDD cage, which is attached to the case with rivets, which might be challenging to remove if you don't have the right tools.

 

Aesthetically the case would be nicer if it didn't have the side mesh for the fan, but that's a very minor complaint.

 

Overall I recommend this case, especially to those looking for a small watercooling case that is just a fraction of a full tower.

 

Posted
Introduction

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Fractal Design is a company that in the last couple of years has gained more attention among the PC crowd with their growing lineup of stylish chassis at affordable prices. After the success with their Define series, Fractal introduced the Arc series. The Arc Midi and Mini, wish is identical, except from the size. Last mentioned is what we will be looking at today.

Packaging

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The box itself looks ordinary with information about the product inside and the layout is inspired from Fractal’s website.

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The case itself is surrounded by protective foam and is lying inside a plastic bag. The box is thick and the foam will protect the case, from even the roughest handling.

Specifications

Cooling system:

- 1 front mounted Fractal Design 120mm fan @ 1200rpm included
- 1 rear mounted Fractal Design 120mm fan @ 1200rpm included
- 1 top mounted Fractal Design 140mm fan @ 1000rpm included
- Additional 4 fan slots available for optional fans; one 120mm in front, one 120mm in bottom, one 120/140mm in
top and one 120/140mm in side panel

Specifications:

- 6x 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 USB 3.0 and Audio I/O
- Removable filter below PSU (PSU not included)
- M/B compatibility: Mini ITX and Micro ATX
- 4+1 expansion slots with sleek white painted brackets
- Supports graphic card lengths up to 260mm when removable HDD-Bay is in place
- Supports graphic card lengths up to 400mm without removable HDD-Bay
- Supports CPU coolers with height of 165mm
- Supports PSU's with a depth of maximum circa 170mm, when using bottom 120mm fan location. When not using the bottom 120mm fan location, the case supports also longer PSU's, typically 200-220mm
- Case size (WxHxD): 210x405x484mm with front and top bezel in place
- Net weight: 9 kg

Accessories

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List of accessories:
•Manual
•2x big cable ties
•1x Bag of screws
• Front panel, 5.25” to 3.5” converter
•PCI fan controller, up to 3 fans
•5.25” to 3.5” drive converter, ei. for floppy (not in picture)
•Screwdriver/umbraco thing

The amount of accessories isn’t overwhelming, but it’s what you expect to get with a case like this. The manual is a little too basic with no illustrations, but will be enough for most users. Information about the different screw types is illustrated on the box.

Design/Technology

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The case is designed as the ‘little brother’ to the Arc Midi, but isn’t that small, with about the same size of the average OEM case and with a little more wide. The weight is 9kg or around 20 lbs which is not exactly light. The color is matte black, which in my opinion looks great for a case like this.

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Front: If we start with the front of the case, it’s equipped with 2x5.25” drive bay and a mesh cover with a thick dust filter, which underneath holds up to 2x 120mm fans and comes with one. The front panel is easy to remove, because of the cutout in the bottom and when pulled out the front bezel gently comes off. The fans in the front are mounted using to pins. You just push the fan in on the two pins and the fan is in place.

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Top: As front, the top panel is also equipped with a mesh cover and filter. Underneath is space for 2x140/120mm fans and the case comes with 1x140mm. The top of the front is fitted with 3x USB ports, 2x 2.0 and 1x3.0, but also a power button with HDD activity LED, headphone and microphone jack and a reset button. When powered the power button lights blue and the HDD LED lights red. It’s worth to mention that the USB 3.0 is connected with a front header, instead of an extension cable like some of the first USB 3.0 compatible cases was equipped with.

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Side panels: The left side panel is clean, expect from a cut out for a 120/140mm fan and the right side is fully clean, no cut outs or ventilation in any way. The side panels feel sturdy and not cheap in any way.

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Back: If we take a look at the top of the back of the case, there is to finger screws. When removed, it’s possible to slide of the top panel for cleaning/fan installation. Right under there is two rubber grommeted holes for water cooling tubes. Under there is a cut out for a 120mm fan which is already equipped. The case is equipped with 5 PCI slots, 4 horizontal + 1 vertical. In the bottom there's space for a standard ATX power supply to get installed.

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Bottom: In the bottom of the case there isn’t that much to see. The case stands on 4 metal feet with rubber pads, but is also equipped a removable dust filter, that covers the intake of the power supply and a cut out for a 120mm intake fan.

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Inside: Now let’s take off the side panel and take a look inside. The matte black finish is also presented here, but fans, PCI slots and hard disk trays are painted white, which gives a good contrast to the case.
In the middle of the motherboard tray is a giant cut out for a cooler retention plate. The motherboard tray is also equipped 6 rubber grommeted holes for better cable management.

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The space for the PSU is placed in the bottom of the case. According to Fractal the case supports up to 170mm PSU’s when a 120mm intake fan is mounted and up to 220mm when not. It is therefore possible to install a Silverstone Strider 1500W, if you want to do that.

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In the front sits two hard drive bays with space for up to 6 hard drives. As seen in the picture to the top cage is removable/rotatable, and when removed it improves airflow. There is also another side to it, which is, when the cage is removed it allow graphics cards up to 15.75” in length, but when in place it only supports up to about 10.25”.
The hard drive trays is formed in metal and painted in white. Every tray is equipped with 4 rubber pads for a silent operation and supports any 3.5” hard drive or SSD without a mounting bracket!

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At the back of the motherboard tray there’re a lot of hooks for attaching cables to. Generally the backside is designed in a practical way, but one thing worth mentioning is that the gap between the motherboard tray and the side panel only is about 0.6", which isn't very much if you have a non-modular PSU.

Hardware installation

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Overall, installing hardware in this case is fairly easy. Although the case is not “tool-less” it’s still fast and simple. All installation of cards and 5.25” drives, removing/rotating of the hard drive bay is done by finger screws, which is a very simple and a reliable system – compared to some cheap tool-less systems. As seen in the pictures there’s a fairly amount of space to work with, considering how small the case is. It’s even possible to mount a dual radiator in the top. Here the case is mounted with a Corsair H100 and two fans, when the rear fan is removed a thicker radiator can be installed or additional fans for a push/pull configuration. Installing hard drives is also very easy and works great! The HDD sits stable and the silicon mounting pads where the screws are mounted through, gives great anti vibration properties. Cable management features are also great, the rubber grommeted holes works good, but the rubber grommets sometimes pops off, which can be a little annoying. Last thing I noticed after installing all hardware in the case was that the airflow is outstanding after the HDD-bay is removed. I knew that the airflow in little case like this would be good, but not that excellent! Even with the HDD bay installed it's good.

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Summary/Conclusion

On the whole I’m very impressed with this case. From cable management to the installation of various hardware, has been a pleasure. The only issue I can think of is that the tiny gap between the motherboard tray and the side panel should’ve been bigger.

Innovation/Technology – 4/5

Although we are dealing with a fairly simple enclosure with more or less innovative design, then I can’t do anything, but love it. The installation went smoothly and didn’t take very long. One thing I was really impressed about was the hard drive trays, because they weren’t anything, but simply clever and combined with the different types of dust filters, it gave me the last conviction that this chassis would get 5 points, but because of the fans is mounted directly on the front panel instead of a mount behind it, to ease cleaning of the filter, it gets 4 points.

Bundle/Accessories – 4/5

At this point I don’t think it was overwhelming. Instead of to big plastic strips there should have been several small. There was a tool to mount a hard drive or an optical drive, but not anything to install the motherboard standoffs. However, it is not something you normally expect to get with a case, not even the screwdriver. The manual however, could have been a little more detailed, but still explained most of it. Overall I was reasonably happy with the accessories, nothing extraordinary, and therefore it gets 4 points.

Design/Layout – 5/5

If you prefer a simple design and will not pay a fortune for a case, you will not have many options. If you in the same time want a small case, but with extra space for e.g. water cooling setup, the options are even fewer. Arc Mini delivers a nice design, the plastic parts don’t feel too cheap and the finish is nice. The practical part is also complete and the chassis fully live up to Fractal Design's motto – “less is more”.

Price – 5/5

I've managed to find the chassis for 64 euros or the equivalent of 88 dollors, which is pretty cheap for a chassis that deliver so much and still keeps a great quality. Therefore the score is again 5!


Big thanks to Fractal Design for providing the case for this review and especially to the Marketing Director, who has been responsible for all communications regarding this review. thumb.gif
Fractal Design Arc Mini
Description:

Cooling system Fan controller for 3 fans included 1 front mounted Fractal Design 120mm fan @ 1200rpm included 1 rear mounted Fractal Design 120mm fan @ 1200rpm included 1 top mounted Fractal Design 140mm fan @ 1000rpm included Additional 4 fan slots available for optional fans; one 120mm in front, one 120mm in bottom, one 120/140mm in top and one 120/140mm in side panel Specifications 6x 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 USB 3.0 and Audio I/O Removable filter below PSU (PSU not included) M/B compatibility: Mini ITX and Micro ATX 4+1 expansion slots with sleek white painted brackets Supports graphic card lengths up to 260mm when removable HDD-Bay is in place Supports graphic card lengths up to 400mm without removable HDD-Bay Supports CPU coolers with height of 165mm Supports PSU's with a depth of maximum circa 170mm, when using bottom 120mm fan location. When not using the bottom 120mm fan location, the case supports also longer PSU's, typically 200-220mm Case size (WxHxD): 210x405x484mm with front and top bezel in place Net weight: 9 kg

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