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Fractal Design Define R5 review

Tom Morgan
4 Dec 2014
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
83
inc VAT

The Define R5 is as close to silent as it gets without ditching case fans altogether, but the monolithic design is looking a little dated

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Specifications

Case type: ATX, Motherboard compatibility: ATX, microATX, Mini-ITX, Supplied fans: 2x140mm, Max 3 1/2in drive bays: 8, Max 5 1/4in drive bays: 2, Size: 232x451x521mm, Weight: 11.2kg, Warranty: Two year RTB

Available in black, white and titanium silver, the fifth iteration of Fractal Design's noise absorbing Define mid-tower is another delightful exercise in understated design - whichever colour you choose. The R5 is an evolution of previous Define models, and looks almost identical to the outgoing R4. The biggest change is the addition of what Fractal Design calls ModuVent fan vent covers, which block out all sound (and airflow) if you demand silence over cooling performance. These covers, combined with the sound dampening materials, which cover both side panels and a 3-speed fan controller hidden behind the front door, mean it's difficult to hear anything at all when all the fans are set to the lowest setting.

The top-mounted I/O panel should be in easy reach if you place your PC on the floor. It has two USB3 ports, two regular USB ports and audio jacks for a microphone and a pair of headphones. You'll only need to open the front door to access the two 5.25in external drive bays, or to pop out the dust filter. The door is made from plastic, which flexes under pressure.

The quick-release side panel is another new addition, locking securely in place to prevent vibration, but opening quickly with a convenient latch mechanism. Although the R5 isn't entirely tool-free, installation was still a breeze thanks to the large number of cable routing holes and a large cutout in the motherboard tray, which makes it easy to install CPU cooler backplates. Each cutout has rounded edges to save your fingers during installation and rubber grommets to ease the strain on cables. 

The R5 is surprisingly large for a mid-tower, so you may still struggle to stretch captive PSU cables behind the motherboard tray. The two SSD mounts on the rear side of the motherboard tray are a welcome inclusion too, keeping them out of sight and away from your graphics card airflow. The 3.5in drive bays all have mounting points for 2.5in SSDs, or you can remove one of the two racks if you want to install a longer graphics card. 

Water cooling has always been the preferred way to keep components cool without making a racket, and the Define R5 has enough radiator mounts for even the most powerful of systems. Beyond 120/140mm mounts in the rear and bottom of the case, you can also fit a 120mm, 140mm or 240mm radiator to the top. Remove the optical drive bay and you'll have room for a massive 360mm or 420mm radiator. Pulling out the drive bays from the front will let you fit a 120, 140, 240, 280 or 360mm radiator, too. If you prefer air cooling, there are a whopping 9 mounts for 120 or 140mm fans, including the two pre-installed 140mm fans.

The Define R5 is a brilliant case if silence is your priority, but unless you fill it with fans or water cooling kit, its cooling can't match other cases with more ventilation. The design hasn't really evolved since the first version, which may put off anyone looking for a more ostentatious PC, but for everyone else it's a comprehensive, if slightly expensive, base for a quiet system.

SPECIFICATIONS
Case typeATX
Motherboard compatibilityATX, microATX, Mini-ITX
Supplied fans2x140mm
Max 3 1/2in drive bays8
Max 5 1/4in drive bays2
Size232x451x521mm
Weight11.2kg
WarrantyTwo year RTB
Detailswww.fractal-design.com
Part codeFD-CA-DEF-R5-BK

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