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Fractal Design Define R3 Case Review

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Old 03-10-11, 12:26 PM Thread Starter   #1
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Fractal Design Define R3 Case Review


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Fractal Design kicked off the launch of the Fractal brand products in the United States at CES 2011. Before the recent release of their products in the U.S., prospective U.S. buyers had to find Fractal Design products at Canada based retailers, such as NCIX, for the cheapest shipping options. Newegg has now started to list Fractal Design products, including the Define R3. Today, we have the pleasure to introduce the Define R3 to the U.S. consumers unaware of Fractal Design and their products.
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Old 03-10-11, 12:41 PM   #2
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Really nice case, and I think the price seems about right - pretty reasonable with all the features. It has got some tough competition in this pricing bracket however, like the HAF932 - it sells on newegg for $140 right now with free shipping and a MIR (MIR brings the HAF932 price down to $120, but I hate mail in rebates). Shipping on the Define R3 is $15, so more or less, these cases almost work out to identical prices - which means buyers should decide which has the features and styling they prefer.

Really fine looking case, and I like the finer touches included. Thanks for the writeup Matt!

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Old 03-10-11, 01:06 PM   #3
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Thanks for the opportunity!

The HAF932 isn't a bad case by any means, but the following features put Define R3 ahead of the HAF932 in the price/features category, in my opinion. Adding all of these features to the HAF would cost quite a bit of money and time, but if they're not wanted, then I guess it wouldn't matter
  • Black interior.
  • Rubber grommets or channel molding on the holes in the motherboard tray.
  • Dust filters on all of the intake fans.
  • Noise reduction material.
  • Strong single channel fan controller for 3 fans, even runs my Deltas!
A few things I like about the HAF are pretty much the few cons of the Define R3.
  • More 5.25" bays. Kind of the opposite of the R3, I think the HAF has too many 5.25" bays
  • Installing a knobbed fan controller in a 5.25" bay without worrying about a door. Although, the door not quite closing on the R3 may or may not be that big of a deal to some people.
  • Comes with more and better fans.
  • Small window at the top of the side panel.
Again, this is just my opinion and it comes down to what the customer is looking for.

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Old 03-10-11, 01:24 PM   #4
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Thanks for that, I was kind of doing a comparison on my own at newegg between what the differences are, but I didn't get a good sense of what should stick out. Thats a good summary.

Have you compared much against the Antec 900? You don't have to do all my work for me. But I'm just looking at this cases features and good price, and trying to think of what else is popular in this price range.

If this was their plan to establish themselves in the US market, it is looking like a really good initial entry.

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Old 03-10-11, 01:32 PM   #5
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I owned the original Antec 900 for a couple of years, and I like this case A LOT better. I'll look into the details to make sure I haven't forgotten anything, and I'll post my opinions on the 900 as well. I could check out the 902 as well, I'm not sure how much better it is than the original.

EDIT:

The comparison to the original 900 is pretty much exactly like the comparison to the HAF932 above, except the 900 doesn't have enough cable management holes or a cut out for CPU cooler installation in the motherboard tray. The 900 does have a "L-M-H" fan speed control switch on all of its case fans. The 900 can be had for a lot lower too though, $100 shipped ($80 shipped AMIR). When I bout the 900 I got it on sale for $55 shipped.

The Antec 902 looks like the direct competition to me at $130 shipped. The only difference between the 902 and the 900, that I see, is that the 902 has the black interior and a huge cutout in the motherboard tray for CPU cooler installation. It still seems to be missing a hole close enough the the PSU so you can optimize your cable lengths. The 902 uses silver/chrome screws and screw requiring a screwdriver on the PCIe slot covers, but those are minor details.

So, the comparison between the 902 and the R3 is a lot like the R3 vs HAF932 comparison as well, except remove black interior from the R3 list and replace with better cable management. Example: On both the 900 and 902, the hard drive SATA/Power connectors stick out towards the motherboard which could cause issues with some GPUs. Plus, with the hard drive connectors towards the right side panel like in the R3, it makes for a much cleaner look.

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Last edited by MattNo5ss; 03-10-11 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 03-10-11, 07:36 PM   #6
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Nice review

I've had my eye on this case for quite a while, but somehow managed to miss that it comes with a fan controller. I think this confirms it as my case of choice for my next build...whenever I get around to it in the next year

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Old 03-10-11, 09:20 PM   #7
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Thanks!

It's a great case, you won't be disappointed. That fan controller is a beast considering it's included with a case.

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Old 03-11-11, 01:10 AM   #8
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I've had this case here in Australia for a year now and can't say I've any gripes.

I don't think not being able to close the door with a fan controller with knobs is an issue at all. There are decent and reasonably inexpesive touch screen controllers available. I use the NZXT Sentry 2 in mine.

Likewise, do you really need more than 1 optical drive?

Having said that, I think the case had far more HDD bays than will ever be needed so an extra 5.25 bay wouldn't have hurt.

The case is nice and quiet and has great airflow. The good old Coolermaster Sileo 500 is quieter though using that case while gaming in summer tends to lead to overheating. The Fractal Design Define R3 is as far as I'm concerned the best case on the market when silence and cooling are important to you.

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Old 04-11-11, 06:15 PM   #9
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Great case


Had one for about 2 months now.

The airflow is not great with the stock fans but I added a couple of Gelid Wing 14s at bottom and top and it's great now whilst still quiet.

Especially installing a fan at the bottom, blowing straight onto the graphics card, has a significant effect on temps.

Very happy with my purchase and would highly recommend.
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Old 04-13-11, 11:34 AM   #10
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I just finished my 3dr build in this case. Being a die-hard Lian-Li fan, There's no comparison (dollar for dollar) because of airflow configs, wire management, and sound deadening. Bang for the buck is very high on the Fractal also. I would like to see them give at least one more 5.25 bay though. My builds have one BluRay and the USB 3.0 adapter in the front. I would also like to see the side panel clips made a bit more HD. They bend too easy for my liking. You can see them here.
http://corecomputerco.com/?page_id=39

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Old 04-13-11, 11:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CvK View Post
Had one for about 2 months now.

The airflow is not great with the stock fans but I added a couple of Gelid Wing 14s at bottom and top and it's great now whilst still quiet.

Especially installing a fan at the bottom, blowing straight onto the graphics card, has a significant effect on temps.

Very happy with my purchase and would highly recommend.
Thanks for the input on your experiences

Adding more fans will definitely put this case over the top.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stunt View Post
I just finished my 3dr build in this case. Being a die-hard Lian-Li fan, There's no comparison (dollar for dollar) because of airflow configs, wire management, and sound deadening. Bang for the buck is very high on the Fractal also. I would like to see them give at least one more 5.25 bay though. My builds have one BluRay and the USB 3.0 adapter in the front. I would also like to see the side panel clips made a bit more HD. They bend too easy for my liking. You can see them here.
http://corecomputerco.com/?page_id=39
I can see how those clips could bend, but I didn't have a problem with them in my limited use of the case.

Yeah, one more 5.25" bay would be nice. It's not like you would lose a HDD/SSD spot since you can use an adapter.

Thanks for your input, it seems our opinions on the case are very similar.

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Old 04-13-11, 05:01 PM   #12
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I'm still having a hard time believing I'm paying 110 bucks for this case. Again thinking back to my Lian-Li's. This is only case I have not used fan controllers on too.

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Old 09-20-11, 09:29 AM   #13
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Bump with an update

Fractal-Design has recently released a USB3.0 Upgrade Kit for the Define XL and Define R3/R2 cases for those of you who were disappointed in the lack of USB3.0

Define R3/R2 USB3.0 Upgrade Kit
Define XL USB3.0 Upgrade Kit

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