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Fractal Design Define R5 FD-CA-DEF-R5-BK-W Black mid-tower computer case

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Pros: Easy to Build In, Improved Mounting of SSDs

Cons: None

This is the third Fractal Designs case model that I've built with (Arc Midi R2 and the Node 304 were the others). I decided to upgrade my main workstation and move to a quiet case as the PC sits right on top of a rather small desk. It's about 18 inches away! I considered going to an mATX build but there just is not the selection of motherboards with features that I was interested in. The first thing I noticed on unboxing is that this is about the same weight at the Arc Midi R2 case it was replacing. Although there is a lot of foam insulation, the side panels are of a thinner thickness which is perhaps where the weight savings comes from. I also opted for a solid side panel as I don't particularly care if others can see inside the case (besides, the left side of the case faces a double french door that gets full afternoon sunlight and I was always lowering the shads as sun smacked the window on the Arc Midi head on for a couple of hours).

This case has larger fans than the Arc Midi (140mm vs. 120) and one for intake and one for exhaust (the Arc MIDI had two for exhaust, one to the back and one out the top). I like the addition of the USB 2.0 ports on the top panel along with the USB 3.0 as I'm often transferring files to Android phones and tablets. Since I mainly use the PC for work and photo processing and am not a gamer, I have opted to stick with the cooling that comes with the PC. I'll be seeing how this hold up as I do some of the more CPU intensive tasks and then decide whether additional fans are needed or not. I don't know whether I will OC or not but the option is there with the installed hardware:

CPU: i7 4790k
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH U12S
MoBo: ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark 2
RAM: 15GB Crucial DDR3
GPU: ASUS STRIX-GTX960
SSD: Samsung 850 Pro 256GB
HDD: 2 x WD Black 2TB
PSU: Seasonic SSR-650RM
OS: Windows 8.1

As with other Fractal Design cases there is ample room behind the mother board tray for cable storage and they now have included three Velcro tie downs that keep every thing in place. Installing all the parts is pretty easy and I like that they have substituted a pin for the middle ATX standoff as this holds the MoBo in place as you put in the other screws. I wish this were around when I did my Arc MIDI build a couple of years ago! The Seasonic PSU has a stiff sleeved 8 pin MoBo connector and and as it is not modular with this particular PSU presents a minor challenge in getting it plugged in since there is not a lot of room between the connection point and the routing hole. The only other minor issue is plugging in the USB 3.0 front panel header. On the Sabertooth MoBo the fastening point is parallel to the MoBo rather than perpendicular as with my last ASUS ATX MoBo. Since the routing hole is very close to the MoBo, one has to bend the cable somewhat severely to plug it in. This may be more of a MoBo issue than one of case design, though one could feed the USB 3.0 header cable through the main case and simplify things (but of course it would not look as clean).

I particularly liked the two SSD drive trays that mount just behind the MoBo tray so you don't need to mount the SSDs prior to MoBo installation. This was not the case with the Arc MIDI. Since I use a 2nd SSD for both Photoshop and Lightroom I can easily upgrade to a larger capacity SSD if needed. Although one can move the two hard drive bays around (one holds 5 drives and the other 3), I left them both in place as I may need them for further expansion at some point. I did remove the five upper drive trays to allow for better airflow from the intake fan.

I have been running the case fans on the middle setting of the fan controller (7v). They are not power managed fans and cannot be run off the MoBo. this is not a real big deal for me. I am seeing a CPU temperature of 30C which is just fine. The room is normally about 25C in the summer time and in the winter when it drops down to 19C, I can probably drop the fans down to the lowest setting (5v).

I know it's difficult to say this will be the last case I ever buy for my work station but my early experience leads me to that consideration. For those interested in more exotic cooling solutions, this case offers those options. It's also available at a particularly good price point and the dimensions are just right for my desk top. This is well worth considering for those who like understated styling coupled with good performance features. If you like glowing LEDs look elsewhere.
Fractal Design Define R5 FD-CA-DEF-R5-BK-W Black mid-tower computer case
Description:

The Fractal Design Define R5 is the next evolution in the widely popular Define Series. Packed with intelligently designed enthusiast-oriented features delivering a silent case with powerful and expansive air and liquid cooling support, presented in a stunning Scandinavian inspired construction. The Define R5 case reaches the highest level of silent computing through strategically placed dense sound absorbing material, ModuVent™ fan vent covers and finely tuned Dynamic Series fans. The Define R5 was designed with configurability in mind, accommodating up to 8 hard drives and all modern graphics cards. Should you wish to expand your system with water cooling components or more fans the layout can easily be configured to meet your demand. With Power Supply: No Power Supply Mounted: Bottom With Side Panel Window: Yes External 5.25" Drive Bays: 2 External 3.5" Drive Bays: 0 Internal 3.5" Drive Bays: 8 compatible with SSDs Internal 2.5" Drive Bays: 2 x 2.5" SSD additional mounting positions on back of motherboard tray Front Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0 and Audio I/O panel ports mounted on top Fan positions: 9 - 2 x 140mm fans included Fan Filters: Front and Bottom including PSU

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