Review Index:
Feedback

Fractal Design Core 3300 ATX Case Review

Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Introduction: A Crowded Market

View Full Size

The case market is not only saturated at every conceivable price point, but there is enough of a builder’s DNA in their enclosure selection that making recommendations in this area can be a galvanizing undertaking. The enclosure with less usefulness can have perceived deficiencies mitigated by style, and vice versa. For some, style is the most important attribute. But functionality alone, when unnecessary elements are stripped away, can be attractive as well. Here we have a bit of both.

Fractal Design is a Swedish company specializing in computer enclosures, though much like Corsair (which started life as a memory company) they have diversified their product offerings with a line power supplies and all-in-one liquid CPU coolers, as well as case fans and accessories. The company cites Scandinavian design as the influence behind their aesthetic, with the minimalist approach of 'less is more'. With the “Core” series Fractal Design has just what that nomenclature indicates. An entry-level offering that still provides the essentials for a solid build. 

With the Core 3300 ATX case the basics are all represented, and it seems that nothing has been included for artistic reasons alone. The Core 3300 does not have a side window, and inside you won't see convenience features like toolless drive bays. Ultimately it’s a rather nondescript matte black case that’s mostly steel, but there are touches that help it stand out in this particular segment of a crowded market.

Continue reading our look at the Fractal Design Core 3300 case!!

With the Core 3300 Fractal Design has targeted the sub-$70 case market. The MSRP is $69, which is about where you should expect to see it at the usual places online . This is significant since very often it is the price that will help distinguish a case, as a higher list price can offset the cost of implementing additional features or using better materials. At <$70 a quality build experience and smart design choices are a must, but there must always be compromise with any price/performance level. We will see exactly how Fractal Design has approached this in our review.

To begin with let’s take a look at some of the features and specifications:


Our thanks to Fractal Design for providing the Core 3300 case for review

Specifications:

  • ATX, E-ATX (up to 295 mm wide) Micro ATX, Mini ITX motherboard compatibility
  • 2x 5.25"drive bays
  • 3x 3.5" bays - all compatible with SSDs
  • 2x dedicated 2.5" SSD mounts
  • 7 expansion slots
  • Support graphics cards up to 430mm (16.9"). One or more 3.5" hard drives may interfere with side-mounted power connectors on graphics cards longer than 255mm (10")
  • Support cooling system: 7 fan positions (2 Silent Series R2 fans included)
  • Filtered fan slots in front and bottom
  • CPU coolers up to 185mm (7.28") in height
  • ATX PSUs up to 170mm (6.69") deep when using the bottom fan location for a 140mm fan; when not using this fan location longer PSUs can be used
  • 22mm of space for cable routing behind the motherboard plate
  • Case dimensions (WxHxD): 233 x 451 x 517mm (9.17"x17.76"x20.35")
  • Net weight: 7.8 kg (17.2 lbs)

The Core 3300 ships in a standard enclosure box, and once inside we see the case well protected for shipping.

View Full Size

View Full Size

A small box inside the case contains the necessary hardware, and it's nice to see that each type of screw is in a separate bag.

View Full Size

The case is rather monolithic, but strong lines and good construction lead to an impressive fit and finish nonetheless.

View Full Size

View Full Size

View Full Size

The case is supported by a set of sturdy plastic feet that are tall enough to provide good airflow when using bottom fans; and here we also see a filter for these lower fan mounts. Excellent.

View Full Size

Up top there are two more 120/140mm fan mounts, and the usual controls and I/O along the top edge.

View Full Size

Next we'll check out the interior and walk through the build process.

Video News


September 15, 2014 | 01:44 PM - Posted by The O (not verified)

I'm sorry but there is NOTHING exciting about that case. This looks just like any other dull computer case that has no redeeming features except a novel way to mount SSDs.

How about one of these companies design a case that is silent with no moving parts; or one that has fixed water tubing hidden out of site so all you need to do is connect to an outlet at various points on the case.

No that's innovation!!

September 15, 2014 | 02:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A case doesn't need to be exciting. It just needs to hold, protect, and cool your components, which this one seems to do well. If getting a cheaper, boring case allows me to upgrade something else, then I'm all for it.

As for silent cases, temperatures will just continue to climb with no way to eject the heat, so it's not really practical for a full-power desktop. A completely open-air setup would probably be the only option.

Good review, by the way.

September 15, 2014 | 03:21 PM - Posted by The O (not verified)

If a case doesn't need to be exciting then why put a window on it? or even desire a window in the review?
To just hold, protect and cool your components is the very definition of a dull case that has nothing to differentiate it from a box.
The computer case is the part you see the most, this thing hold all your hard earned components; it should be exciting or what's the point of the whole case mod market? or those cases made from acrylic and shiny metal?

A poorly designed silent case would perform as you describe.

September 15, 2014 | 10:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A case is a box, it has the exact same purpose as a box (plus cooling), so why should it need to differentiate itself from one? It only needs to do its box functions effectively.

Honestly, I don't know why people want a window on their case. If your focus is on aesthetic, buy a painting. A case, like the computer as a whole, is a functional item. As such, the only part that needs to be exciting to look at is the part that you do look at: the display.

Too many of the flashy, plastic "gaming" cases on the market (perhaps even all of them) are very poorly built, and yet those cases seem to sell quite well, despite (or perhaps because of) the terrible build quality. Exceptional build quality is generally only possible with simple, functional, boring shapes (at least at a reasonable price). If you would sacrifice real quality to get something that looks like it belongs in a Transformers film, well, it's your money.

With casemodding, at least it's something that you built yourself, a unique creation that you can be proud of, as opposed to being proud or excited about all the flashing lights you wasted your money on. Still, many casemods (like "gaming" cases) don't exactly look good or even try to; they are just made to look as ridiculous as possible in a desperate grab for attention.

Maybe Caselabs should throw a disco ball on top of their next case just to shut you ricers up

September 15, 2014 | 06:15 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Agree with the top poster.

This case is soooooo boring I immediately had no interest in reading the review.

A total step backwards in marketing.

Fractal WAKE UP. Ugly off the shelf box = don't bother / no sale.

September 21, 2014 | 02:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Come on, you have zero sense of subtlety in taste. Even despite featuring a very cut-down and minimal style, I think it's a seamless addition to the rest of their product line. And no other PCs come close to the specific design philosophy and signature look and feel of every Fractal Design case enough to classify them as generic. Whether it's the striking minimalism, aesthetic dimensions, 60 degree breaks, conservative use of mesh, wintery brushed black exterior, a lot goes into it on a level requiring attention to minute detail to achieve that signature look and feel. Just like how NZXT or Corsair have their own vibe or "soul of a brand" that deviates a case from a generic SilverStones or Antecs. It may not have flashy LEDs or mean and in-your-face craziness that catches the eye of most adrenaline-addicted teenagers who do not care about a concise and tidied look, so I can see where it can fall subjectively as boring or undifferentiated.

About that innovation, here's one you mentioned http://uk.hardware.info/news/35476/computex-cube-shaped-chassis-for-a-pa...

September 15, 2014 | 06:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This case screams "boring loser".

September 15, 2014 | 07:22 PM - Posted by Qrash

You guys are missing the point of this case and its potential. For $70 (or less) you get a well built case that is easy to assemble in and is compatible with the largest heatsinks or even multiple radiators.

As for it's looks: I think the case is understated with clean lines. If you want to add windows or any other type of mod, the large blank panels will permit you to do almost anything you like. And it's only $70.

Another great review Sebastian, of an often overlooked portion of the market.

September 15, 2014 | 07:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Qrash you make some valid points however, the fact that this case sits at $70 puts it squarely in the sites of literally HUNDREDS of cases at this price point.

Do a cursory check in Newegg and you will find over two hundred cases at this price point/form factor from some very well proven manufacturers such as Corsair, NXZT, Antec, Thermaltake, CoolerMaster with every single same bullet point the fractal does but also has a very pleasing aesthetic.

I have to agree with the others above. This case is uninspired (dare I say even ugly) and compared to other cases with same features, overpriced.

So why would anyone pay more and get less?

Unless you're a Fractal fanboy, you'd be silly to waste your money on this case when so many others can give you the same (or better) for less.

Chalk this one up as a major fail for Fractal.

September 15, 2014 | 09:14 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I love it, I love the details and that company is very careful building stuff. I think the one with windows look too messy. That looks classic and I am sure wife will not want to throw it out of the windows like some of the cases I see with more light than a train in a dark tunnel.

September 15, 2014 | 11:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I agree. I love it, and would consider purchasing it for family members or clients.

At $70 it is a bit overpriced, but it's been on sale at Amazon and other places for as little as $45. At that price it's amazing.

Flashy or windowed cases aren't for everyone. People should get over it. I would like to see PCPer continuing to cover things that aren't interesting to every PC enthusiast, because nothing is interesting to every single one of us.

September 16, 2014 | 02:56 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Wow this case is hideous.

It looks like a case you'd get at the clearance aisle of a Goodwill store.

Wins my vote for ugliest case of the year.

$70? Hell no!

September 16, 2014 | 03:55 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Boring? Sure. But not hideous. It's just a black rectangle; if you find something so simple and ubiquitous hideous, it must be difficult for you to live.

September 22, 2014 | 11:08 AM - Posted by Zen00

If it were in beige, I'd agree.

September 16, 2014 | 12:00 PM - Posted by Patrick3D (not verified)

My first thought was that this looked like the cheap case I bought to build a system for my brother with, but the one I bought was only $20 which makes this one feel overpriced. By comparison, I only paid $69 for a Raidmax Seiran which has 9x 5.25" drives and includes far more features.

September 16, 2014 | 12:25 PM - Posted by camberry

I understand why people are bagging on this case. It is simple without and LED's, windows and such, but it seems very thoughtfully designed. With it being found for as little as $50, that is not a bad price at all.

I prefer a case that is well designed and not gaudy. I want my machine to look simple and powerful. That is why I often gravitated to Lian Li cases, but their prices are pretty steep. Fractal just recently has caught my eye and I like their aesthetics and price points.

Yes you can find something cheaper, but in my experience you will have to trade off something. Usually it is in the materials or something might not fit perfectly.

For instance, you can love or hate Apple, but take the side off an ancient G5 case in 2003 (same case used, with slight modifications, for 10yrs later) and feel the quality of that metal and you will have a better appreciation for a sturdy case.

So I think this is a great review, the case isn't exciting, but it is well made. And that is what is most important in my opinion.

PCPer has always been evenhanded in their reviews. That is why I stay. If they say it is a silver, then I know I will likely enjoy this case if I purchase it.

September 16, 2014 | 07:42 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Wow, can someone look into all these rediculous posts above? Seems like the same person with a grudge against Fractal or a shill

September 17, 2014 | 11:13 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why would someone "have a grudge" against Fractal?

They are too small for anyone to take notice of one way or another.

I think someone needs to take off their tinfoil hat.

The case itself is ok but just ok. It seems a little expensive for what you get.

I'm not a fan of the 90's econobox look but it's your money so if you like it then buy it.

September 21, 2014 | 04:39 PM - Posted by Rantor (not verified)

I'm not getting all the hate for the case. Its a basic box, nothing fancy. I think my only concerns are the HD mounting system (though its growing on me for better airflow), the front intakes (I would prefer mesh over the two intake fans) and the price. I would say it should be about $50.

October 2, 2014 | 11:11 PM - Posted by Christopher (not verified)

This case is pimp. IT has 2 140mm fan option on the front. Dust filter front panel. Rad support for front and top. High airflow storage option. Comes with 2 quality silent fans. has a nice clean look.

I bought this case to go into an arm-war so it doesnt need a window. But go down to your local glass auto repair and grab a peace of plexy for 15 bux the size of the side panel and make your own.

I just bought this case because I think its perfect for how cheap it is. If I wanted to spend 3 times as much on a case I would get the corsair 450d. But this one comes pretty close.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.