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Old 08-03-2011, 02:06 AM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Fractal Design Define R3 Mid-Tower Chassis Review

With the chassis market dominated by a small group of major companies, it's easy to get excited when we receive a model from a company that's not that well known - at least on these shores. In this particular case (no pun, of course), that company is Fractal Design, and its the silence-focused Define R3 mid-tower on deck today.

Read through Greg's in-depth look at Fractal Design's Define R3 chassis and then discuss it here!
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Old 08-03-2011, 04:14 AM   #2
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Awesome review Greg. I was glad to read you had a lot of personal time with the case during the review and if I need a new mid-tower (which might happen soon) I will defiantly put this one on the short list.
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Old 08-03-2011, 06:43 AM   #3
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Thank you for your kind words Kayden. The Define R3 really is a solid product and something that Fractal Design should be proud of. It's well worth the $100 asking price. My advice would be to wait and see if Newegg ever has a deal on shipping for the case because at the moment, they are murdering you with a $20 postage fee. That aside, I hope that Fractal Design is around for a long time and they keep cranking out new and improved products.
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Old 08-03-2011, 07:47 AM   #4
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Excellent Greg! Thanks so much for the review.

I was very impressed with the case. It's funny how we can sometimes like opposite ends equally. With the ostentatious Thermaltake Level 10 GT I was excited at the flaring design. With this Fractal Design Define R3 I was completely sold on the sober (solemn) lines. It's a case that can go unnoticed in a room, while still beautiful to look at. I confess that no matter how I may sometimes try to deny it, I do tend to consider a chassis looks. They are not above function, but pretty close. I could buy a lesser chassis for the looks as long as the gambit wasn't too high. Punish me

Cable management does indeed seem to suck, but I think Fractal Design knows exactly what and who this case is for. And so did you. Indeed your cable arrangement suffices for a windowless sidepanel and for a case that is meant to harbor a more traditional set of components and which isn't geared towards frequent tinkerers. A group of computer users I fit in just nicely.

What really gives the case purpose away is, I think, all the care on acoustics. They really pushed it and I'm glad they did. The fact they didn't seem to treat much anything else with this level of care, seems to indicate the Define R3 is meant as working machine that would be welcomed in any open space office, while the design gives it a classy professional look any business manager (or even interior designer) can fall in love with. I can see it being very welcome at home too for those of us whose use of the computer has less to do with hardware and more to do with software.

What I didn't like?

Definitely the fact there's only two front-panel USB ports. The chassis are wide enough it could (and should these days) accommodate two more. Front-panel USB ports can be a real killer when it comes to purchase decisions, or so I would think since this is a big thing for me. I don't like kneeling, stretching and blind touching my way over the back panel to attach some USB device because I don't have any more open slots in the front.

EDIT: Btw, you may want to review the text of your article. I can't take a good look at the cooler. There's only one top picture of it, but I think that's a Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev 2. There's no Arctic Cooling Freezer 7. The two of them are Pro, and the white blades on this one make it the Rev 2. I know I'm being pedantic. But so should you
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Last edited by marfig; 08-03-2011 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:33 AM   #5
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Good heads up on the AC mistake. I will ask that it be corrected.

Concerning cable management, I think they did as good of a job as they could given the mid-tower size of the case. The routable holes are there in the motherboard tray but even with those, most power supplies just have an absurd amount of cables sticking out the back of them. It's somewhat unavoidable.

The 2 USB ports on the top are fine with me but I think having another pair would obviously make things better. Like you, myself and most everyone else, digging around the back of your machine to plug something is unfavorable to say the least. USB 3.0 would be nice but as this is a budget chassis, they played things right by sticking with USB 2.0.

As for the design, I would have liked to have seen the ability to switch the direction that the front swings out. My desk is oriented in a way that my machine sits to the right of me and having the door open from left to right would make things easier. As mentioned in the review, it appears that they took some design points from Antec. With the P182, you can swing the door all the way around and have it sit flush with the side of the case. I would have loved to seen this as well.
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Old 08-03-2011, 12:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg King View Post
Good heads up on the AC mistake. I will ask that it be corrected.
No worries.

It's indeed a terrific cooler, to say the least. I love mine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg King View Post
As for the design, I would have liked to have seen the ability to switch the direction that the front swings out. My desk is oriented in a way that my machine sits to the right of me and having the door open from left to right would make things easier.
As it is right now sits well with my setup. But I can indeed see the problem. It's not clear either why they would choose to make the door this way (particularly the 90 degree angle), even for a budget machine. There could have been many brownie points for this case, had it actually catered to a more general audience considering the low(?) price.

...

One question: On many of the photos I can see a bend or glare effect on the bottom side of the case, towards the front and back of the side panel. Is this a camera effect, or is there something else going on there? Is the surface smooth and leveled in that area?
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:10 PM   #7
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The AC 7 Pro was king of the hill until the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ was released. I remember nearly falling over myself to get one but never did in the end.

If you're worried about photos, I'm surprised you haven't ripped my head off, marfig.

Good review. I'm all about Fractal Designs mATX cases.
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Old 08-03-2011, 01:59 PM   #8
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I heard newer revision of the R3 is shipping with USB 3.0 support, upgrade kit will also be available soon.
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Old 08-03-2011, 02:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Synesthesia View Post
I heard newer revision of the R3 is shipping with USB 3.0 support, upgrade kit will also be available soon.
That is good news. I will try to get confirmation from Fractal and post back here.
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Old 08-03-2011, 02:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marfig View Post
One question: On many of the photos I can see a bend or glare effect on the bottom side of the case, towards the front and back of the side panel. Is this a camera effect, or is there something else going on there? Is the surface smooth and leveled in that area?
It's a camera effect. The edges of the case are straight as an arrow. As are the side panels.
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Old 08-03-2011, 02:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Synesthesia View Post
I heard newer revision of the R3 is shipping with USB 3.0 support, upgrade kit will also be available soon.
I have confirmation from Fractal Design that they will be releasing an upgrade kit for USB 3.0 for $9.99 on Newegg. Here's hoping that Newegg doesn't murder you on shipping.
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg King View Post
It's a camera effect. The edges of the case are straight as an arrow. As are the side panels.
I see it too I assumed he was talking about the barrel distortion in some of the shots. Almost looks like smudge marks from trying to shop out the background and fix mistakes but most likely not.

When I do product shots with bounce flash weird things happen sometimes when I try to blow the white out with more power than the exposure needs.

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Old 08-04-2011, 04:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RainMotorsports View Post
I see it too I assumed he was talking about the barrel distortion in some of the shots. Almost looks like smudge marks from trying to shop out the background and fix mistakes but most likely not.
Those imperfections are the unfortunate side-effect of the environment surrounding the chassis that ended up being retained even though the background was edited out. As you can tell in most of the shots, the side is in fact very flush with the chassis.
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