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Fractal Design Define R5 Silent Mid-Tower Enclosure Review

Introduction: Defining the Quiet Enclosure

The Define R5 is the direct successor to Fractal Design's R4 enclosure, and it arrives with the promise of a completely improved offering in the silent case market. Fractal Design has unveiled the case today, and we have the day-one review ready for you!

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We've looked at a couple of budget cases recently from the Swedish enclosure maker, and though still affordable with an MSRP of $109.99 (a windowed version will also be available for $10 more) the Define R5 from Fractal Design looks like a premium part throughout. In keeping with the company's minimalist design aesthetic it features clean styling, and is a standard mid-tower form factor supporting boards from ATX down to mini-ITX. The R5 also offers considerable cooling flexibility with many mounting options for fans and radiators.

The Silent Treatment

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One of two included 1000 RPM hydraulic-bearing GP-14 silent fans

There are always different needs to consider when picking an enclosure, from price to application. And with silent cases there is an obvious need to for superior sound-dampening properties, though airflow must be maintained to prevent cooking components as well. With today's review we'll examine the case inside and out and see how a complete build performs with temperature and noise testing.

Continue reading our review of the Fractal Design Define R5 enclosure!!

Before we begin, here are the complete specs from Fractal Design:

Specifications
Drive Bay Capacity
  • 2 - 5.25” bays (removable)
  • 8 - 3.5" HDD positions (can also accommodate 2.5" units)
  • 2 - additional 2.5" dedicated SSD unit positions
Expansion Slots
  • 7
Motherboard Compatiblity
  • ATX
  • Micro-ATX
  • Mini-ITX
Cooling / Ventilation
  • 9 Fan positions (2 Fractal Design Dynamic GP14 140mm fans included)
  • Filtered fan slots in front and bottom
  • CPU coolers up to 180 mm in height
Front I/O
  • 2 USB 3.0 + 2 USB 2.0
  • 3.5mm audio in/out
Power Supply Compatibility
  • ATX PSUs up to 190/170 mm (with a bottom 120/140mm fan installed)
  • When not using any bottom fan location PSU up to 300mm can be used
Graphics Card Compatibility
  • Graphics cards up to 310 mm in length with top HDD cage installed
  • With top cage removed GPUs up to 440 mm in length may be installed
Dimensions / Weight
  • Case dimensions (mm) 232 x 462 x 531 (9.13" x 18.19" x 20.91")
  • Weight 10.2 kg (22.49 lbs)

Our thanks to Fractal Design for providing the Define R5 for our review!

Packaging and Contents

The case ships in a standard brown box with some basic information on the outside.

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Inside the case receives Fractal’s usual treatment for product protection, with styrofoam padding and a plastic bag over the enclosure to prevent scratches.

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An instruction guide and small boxed hardware package are included.

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All screws are separated into individual bags

First Impressions

Right out of the box I was impressed with the look of the case, particularly the front panel and top I/O. Clean and uncluttered, and a nice brushed finish to the plastic front giving it an aluminum look.

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The front panel is a door, which swings open to reveal an opening for intake fans as well as two 5.25” optical drive bays. (The hinge is reversable if you'd prefer to have it open left to right.) This door panel is lined with a thick acoustic treatment, the first indication of the sound-dampening qualities of the R5.

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Up top the 5.25" drive bay covers are secured with a simple latch that allows for easy removal, and the intake fan features a dust screen that also pops out easily.

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A 140mm intake fan is included here to provide positive airflow

There is a space for a side mounted fan if desired on one of the side panels. This is covered by default with a panel that is also lined with

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Around back there isn’t much to report. Here we have 7 expansion slots and another 120/140mm fan opening (with a second 140mm quiet fan included).

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The top of the R5 is interesting as we have three removable "Moduvent" fan covers, each lined with a foam material to help reduce noise when not using the upper fan mounts.

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The top of the case with and without the vent covers

A look at the bottom of the case shows off some very shiny chromed plastic feet with a foam cushion at the base of each, and a long screen filter that covers the lower fan/PSU openings. This full-length filter slides out easily for cleaning and is an important feature to keep dust out.

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Next we’ll take a look at the interior of the case and try out a system build with the R5.

Video News


November 24, 2014 | 12:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

May I ask why you chose to do a sound test with an anemic R7 260X which in itself doesn't make a lot of noise even at load instead of a use case scenario with a GPU which can make a lot of noise under heavy load like a 290X?

This is supposed to be a enthusiast case but you put in a kiddie GPU that will not actually push the acoustic envelope and acoustics are one of it's advertised selling points.

How does this case deserve an editor's choice when you didn't really put it through its paces acoustically?

Interesting case but a very poorly setup review that potentially skews the actual performance of what this case can or cannot do acoustically.

If I don't see an update on your review with a beefy GPU and their acoustics side by side with at least one other non-acoustic dampened case with same hardware, then this was a biased review.

November 24, 2014 | 02:34 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Of course, without any comparison you have to trust what I wrote in the review, so naturally the graphs can be updated to show the comparitive information as a reference. It's easy to call a review biased without this data, so I'll explain my rationale.

This review uses the same hardware as my last two case reviews, the only difference being the motherboard in the Fractal Core 1100 and In Win D Frame mini reviews. Testing for all three of these cases use the same CPU, CPU cooler, and GPU setup. With those cases noise was 3.8 dB over ambient with the 1100, and ranged from 1.6 - 2.8 dB over ambient with the D Frame mini. Temps were still excellent given the lower noise.

If I get a 290X to test I can update future results, but that 260X card is actually louder than my OEM GTX 770 with the TITAN cooler, which is why I used it in the last three reviews. Simply put, I chose the 260X (of the two options) because it puts more heat into the case and the dB's increase with load to a measurable extent.

November 24, 2014 | 12:23 PM - Posted by Qrash

Nice to see the bottom air filter slides out at the front of the case. I would emphasize this point in the review as it is a nice change from the usual.

December 22, 2014 | 12:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That was one of the 3 features of the case that stood out. The other 2 were: The less restrictive hdd cage (better air flow) and the fine mesh air filter on the front.

November 24, 2014 | 07:50 PM - Posted by John H (not verified)

I have the R4. I like the fact they made the SSD trays removable .. but I wish they kept that 8th slot (sideways mount). it's very useful for keeping back slots open when you have extra serial ports or that sort of thing..

November 27, 2014 | 04:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Would the corsair h105 fit on the top of the case with a asus x99 motherboard?

November 27, 2014 | 03:30 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

There's plenty of clearance for the H105 above the motherboard, I just didn't build with it there because I wanted to keep the covers on the top fan openings.

November 28, 2014 | 09:35 PM - Posted by Laststop (not verified)

this is a nice case but I still think the NZXT h440 is a better designed silent ATX case. It completely does away with optical drives and loads the entire front of the case with 3x 120mm fans behind a sound deadening foamed door. It has space for a 120/140/240/280/360mm radiator plus space for another 120/140/240/280mm radiator plus space for another 120/140mm radiator. And room for 2x 2.5" drives and up to 11x 3.5" drives or 11x 2.5" drives and a massive amount of cable management space and room for even a mega large 220mm length psu. I just think it has a better design that allows for more airflow and more cooling options without any sacrifices to drive space or cable management space. All by completely ignoring the option of 5.25" bays it really accomplishes a lot and who needs those bays anymore really?

If you can go without an optical drive the H440 is the ultimate ATX case built for silence. And it's only 119.99 same price as this one. I would only go with this case if you must absolutely have an optical drive but if you are saying to yourself you absolutely need an optical drive maybe you should rethink that stance.

December 5, 2014 | 11:35 PM - Posted by Hummhumm (not verified)

Well, the R5 can have it's drive bays removed. Sure, you'll not have it covered entirely by the fan filter (that the NZXT doesn't have) that's in the front but it offers up a slot for up to a 420 rad in the top along with all the radiator measurements you mentioned. All of which both cases have btw.

Oh and the R5 can fit a 240 in the bottom.
And! Some push pull configs is available on the R5 as well. Both in top and front.

PSU is the only point in your post that makes any sense what so ever.

They're very similar cases and the H440 was the best silent case, until the R5 came. :)

December 12, 2014 | 11:40 PM - Posted by Lystfiskern (not verified)

Did you even read any of the reviews and tests of the R5?
I object to most of your allegations as they simply are not factual at all and plain wrong.

Even the Define R4 has the H440 beat on both sound and temperature in all comparing tests done to this day.
Now this new revision promises to even widen that gap as the Define R5 has improved on both of these vital criterias.

In fact the ONLY thing most reviewers find "better" with the H440 is the PSU cover. I agree if you were to throw in a nasty looking PSU and didnt care much for the work needed to clean the aestetics with tidy cable managment and decent looking braided cables...

The Define R5 will hold up to a 420mm radiator in the top - up to a 360mm in the front. up to a 240mm in the bottom and up to a 140mm in the back.
You have the OPTION of going for complete silence as this case comes with either closed and windowed side panel.

Out of the box the R5 will hold 8 3,5"HDDs/2,5"SSDs and two more 2,5" HDDs/SSDs on the back of the motherboard plate...That is more included storage space than the H440 offers.

Do you understand that there is somewhat of a difference receiving a silver award (h440) and an Editor`s Choice award (Define R5)?

Who is likely the better judge, fitted with comparing knowledge to actually pass a qualified judgement.... You or the professionals?

December 13, 2014 | 04:29 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Well, somethings up here as it says you used a Gigabyte motherboard but it is quite plainly an Asus H97M in the photo.

January 12, 2015 | 08:23 PM - Posted by Fergg (not verified)

What was the 3 speed fan controller set to for the sound tests? High medium or low?

February 10, 2015 | 12:34 AM - Posted by Bryan (not verified)

I really think other things should have been addressed in this review.

1. One of the most common All in One coolers: H100/100i/105..., is a freaking pain in the ass to put in this case(up top). The holes just don't match up to the top holes, this is insanity. Did fractal test this with their cooling equipment and call it a day? I'd recommend others that have one of these coolers to consider Phantecs offerings with full filters up top, with adjustable free form screw slots, to fit any rad/fan screw placement. The funny thing is the define r5 uses these free form slots for fan mounting on the bottom of the case near the psu, and the back of the case where there is a unfiltered 120-140mm fan slot. Installing the H100 up top makes it way too close to the mobo, which impedes access to the memory, and the cosair AIO cpu block itself. (Access problem only with Rad with push pull.) Without Push pull, you still have to mount the H100 way off. It doesn't mount on the corner back or anything like that. It's a good 1-2 inches off.

2. While they went nuts on the dust filters for the front and bottom. The entire top, and the back 120-140mm fan slot is unfiltered.

3.Now the top is usually going to be exhaust, so that might be fine if you have 140mm fans up there exhausting air out of your case, but most people are going to put a rad up there with 120mm fans. 120's up top will leave a lot of open venting up top, for dust to settle. Same for the back of case 120-140mm slot.

July 5, 2015 | 06:08 PM - Posted by bLu (not verified)

You must be blind as the top vents fit AIO Corsair H80i, H100i, H100i GTX, H110i GT perfectly.

The holes line up towards the left side panel side completely away from the motherboard.

February 12, 2015 | 01:51 PM - Posted by david (not verified)

im building an x99 intel chipset on this R5 case. will a reference Nvidia gtx geforce 770 2gb fit in the case?

February 16, 2015 | 09:15 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

More than enough. You won't have to worry about gpu clearance in your situation.

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