Fractal Design Define R4 Mid Tower Case Review

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I would probably want to say something about Darwin’s theories on evolution here….but it probably isn’t a great idea. While the theory of natural selection and how it pertains to the evolution of computer parts would seem to make perfect sense, someone would still find a way to say they were offended. I wouldn’t have any mention of living organisms in the reference, merely computer parts. You know, Case A rev 1.0 uses a 92mm intake fan and 80mm exhaust, and only has punchouts in the MB tray to accommodate a mATX board, even though the tray and case have plenty of size for an ATX. As time passes, newer components require better cooling, so Case A rev 1.2 is released, built off the same chassis, but now using 140mm intake and exhaust fans, is ATX ready and has the option for a 120mm side fan. Case A’s fantastic chassis and nose are kept, but it evolves to meet the needs of its environment. Makes sense, right? Problem is, if I mention Darwin I wind up getting hate mail from someone claiming the Dell Optiplex was created in God’s image…..go figure. So, I just won’t get into it.

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The thing being, components do evolve far more than being completely new builds. Realistically, from an economic manufacturing standpoint, this is of great benefit to not only the manufacturer, but the consumer, as well. Without this process, pricing would be astronomically higher, and good technology and designs would wind up in the trash after a short lifespan. The scenario I depicted with Case A is not only very common, it is the norm. Chassis are used over and over in all kinds of designs, with changes made where necessary to tweak certain characteristics to fit the market. A few fan changes, add some lights and change the nose, and Case A is now the “Dragon Skull Predator Extreme”. Look closely sometime at a manufacturer's case lineups, and you will see a lot of similarities going on. So, yes, cases evolve. The trick is finding changes that improve the case, rather than simply making it look different.

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The Fractal Design Define R4 truly embodies the concept of the evolved and refined enclosure. While based on the R3, the Define R4 has changes running far more than mere cosmetics, enhancing usability and performance across the board. As a starting point, the Define R4 addresses the typical cable routing problems associated with mid-tower cases by widening the body to allow for 26mm of clearance behind the MB tray and a very large 170mm CPU cooler clearance. The tray itself has very well placed routing holes, all featuring rubber grommets. Physical MB placement within the R4 is engineered to allow for excellent working room on all sides, making component installation decidedly easier, and allowing for installation of the largest components on the market today, with GPU clearances of 295mm with the top HHD cage in place, and 430mm with the cage removed. The eight HDD trays are broken into two cages, with the top five HDD cages being removable and rotatable. To add to the expandability, the Define R4 puts all that space behind the MB tray to good use with two available SSD mounts on the rear of the tray. While the Define R4 is built for silence, featuring two Silent Series R2 140mm fans and acoustic absorbing material throughout, add on cooling options abound. The tool free front fan bezel can accommodate an additional 140mm fan and features a removable dust cover, as does the optional 120/140mm fan mounting in the bottom of the case. Optional 120/140mm side and top fans feature Moduvent sound isolation, with the top capable of two 120/140mm or a 240mm radiator. For further flexibility, a 5/7/12V fan controller is included to go along with two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0 and audio on the front I/O.

 

 

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