Fractal Design Define R5 Silent Mid-Tower Enclosure Review
Completed Build, Noise and Temps, Final Thoughts
The Define R5 has a nice, clean appearance once everything is installed. There is room for most graphics cards with the drive cages installed, or simply remove the middle cage to install longer cards. Routing cables was easy, and the included velcro straps made cleaning things up behind the motherboard tray effortless.
You'll notice the two white metal 2.5" drive trays behind the motherboard, one of which I used to hold my SSD for this build.
Power for up to three additional fans is provided via an included cable, which is routed in the front of the case and uses a SATA power connector. I used this to power the front 1000 RPM intake fan during testing.
Noise and Temperature Results
|Processor||Intel Pentium G3258 "Anniversary Edition"|
|Motherboard||ASUS H97M-Plus - Micro-ATX Intel H97|
|Memory||Samsung 4GB 1600MHz DDR3 (OEM)|
|Graphics Card||ASUS AMD Radeon R7 260X|
|Storage||OCZ Vertex 460 120GB SSD|
|Cooling||Noctua NH-U9B SE2|
|Power Supply||Corsair CX 750W Modular PSU|
|OS||Windows 8.1 64-bit|
I performed all noise testing with a digital sound pressure meter positioned 18" from the front of the case. Temperature testing was done with readings from RealTemp and GPU-Z, and results are presented as degrees delta (over ambient) with a room temperature of 18 ºC.
This is the biggest feature of the case, and I have to say it really lived up to expectations here. With the case running at idle or load with my quiet components (Noctua CPU cooler with Low-Noise adapters installed on both fans, quiet ASUS dual-fan GPU) the results were a miniscule 1dB over ambient (actually just a hair under 1 dB at 0.9 dB as measured!). Standing a few inches away from the case you can still hear the fans inside, but once you move a few feet away the sound disappears. It's very impressive how quiet this case really is, and it can really be effectively silent with careful component selection.
The main drawback of a heavily insulated case might easily be poor thermal performance, but here again the Define R5 excelled, with no negative impact from the acoustic treatment.
These numbers are excellent for the components chosen for this build, and the results show the effectiveness of the included 1000 RPM fans as well. The default configuration is postive pressure airflow, and it works extremely well here. The open-air D Frame mini had a slightly better showing, but that is to be expected.
It's refreshing to look at an enclosure that delivers great performance and value like the Define R5. The case has an understated look, but is still very nice looking with clean lines and a quality finish. There is ample room for expansion and Fractal has not foregone support for optical drives for the many who still use them, and the door panel keeps things looking clean up front.
But the big story here is how quiet and cool this enclosure is. Using modest lower-noise components enabled a final build that only added a single decible to the room, and it was effectively inaudible from a couple of feet away. Fractal Design has added a lot to the value of the Define R5 with the inclusion of hydraulic-bearing 140mm quiet fans, especially impressive considering the $109.99 MSRP.
The Define R5 presents no noted flaws. It is very well made, thoughfully designed, and performed extremely well. The pricing is on the affordable side of the premium enclosure market, and it would be very hard to beat for a silent case in this price range.