Home > PC parts and Hardware, Reviews > Fractal Design Define R4 – Review

Fractal Design Define R4 – Review

Whazzup Dawfreaks
I am back with a new review And this time we will have a look at the Fractal Design Define R4 that is the revision of the multi awarded Fractal Design Define series of cases.
Before I go on I would like to Thank Fractal design for letting me do this review.

 

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Introduction

I am one of the people who have had the joy to try out and us the Fractal Design R3 and the Define XL, both very impressive PC cases.
So I have been looking forward to get my hands on the Define R4.
If you are new to Fractal Design and their products here is some words from them.

THE CONCEPT OF FRACTAL DESIGN

The concept of Fractal Design is to provide products with an extraordinary design level, without compromising the important factors of quality, functionality and pricing. The computer of today has come to play a central role in most people’s home, creating a demand for appealing design of the computer itself and its accessories. Our main product areas are computer enclosures, power supplies and related accessories

DESIGNED AND ENGINEERED IN SWEDEN

All Fractal Design products have been thoroughly designed, tested and specified in our Swedish head quarter. The well known ideas of Scandinavian design can be found through all of our products; a minimalistic but yet striking design – less is more.
Source

 

The Fractal Design R4

Specification

  • Dimensions: (W x D x H) 232mm x 523mm x 464mm.
  • Available colours Pearl Black (reviewed), Arctic White, Titanium Grey.
  • Materials: Steel, plastic.
  • Drive bays 2x 5.25" drive bays, 8 x internal 3.5"/2.5", 2 x 2.5" drive bays.
  • Front panel: Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB, stereo, microphone.
  • Form factor(s): ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX.
  • Cooling 2 x 120/140mm front mounts (1x 140mm fan supplied), 
    120/140mm rear fan mount (1x 140mm fan supplied), 2 x 120/140mm roof fan mounts (ModuVent), 1 x 140mm side fan mount (ModuVent), 1 x 120/140mm floor fan mount.
  • Max CPU cooler height 170mm.
  • Maximum graphics card length 295mm with HDD cage installed,
    430mm without HDD cage installed.
  • Extras; Dust filters (front and Bottom), front mounted 3-speed fan controller/switch, sound-dampening materials.
  • Weight 12.3kg
  • Fan(s) Info: Hydraulic bearing 140mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM

Package and Content
IMG_1661IMG_1663

Fractal Design has stepped away from the black box we are used to see, but the Define R4 box still gives a great first impression and holds allot of information.
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Included with the case is motherboard standoffs, Screwes, cable ties, rubber fan standoffs ( for anti vibration and space purpose), and the Manual.

Exterior

IMG_1667
The Define R4 might look allot like the R3 but the case has actually grown roughly 10 mm on the height and 20 mm on the width.

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On the top of the R4 we find the Microphone / headphone Jacks, reset and power button as well as two USB3 and 2 USB 2 slots.

IMG_1681
The top of the R4 also reveals two additional seald of (ModuVent) 120mm/140mm fan slots.

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As we open the front door we find that it caries the Sound damping seen in the previous versions, we also find the two 5,25” slots AND the new fan controller.

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This 12V/7V/5V switch/fan controller might not seam as a big deal, but to me this is a great improvement from the previous back mounted one knob fan controller.

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Pushing the upper section of the fan grill reviles the removable front fans slot, this slot comes with a removable dust filter and you can fit both 120mm and 140 mm in it.
Note That The Define R4 comes with one 140mm Silent Series R2 Fan installed in the front.

IMG_1664

The left side panel of the Define R4 holds the Smart ModuVent feature that will allow the user to install either a 120mm or 140mm fan for extra cooling.
In this image the ModuVent is covered with the included sound damped blank plate.

 

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The right side panel is plain as there is no need for additional cooling  from this side.

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On the back we find IO section and the 7+1 expansion slots, we can also see the second
included 140mm Silent Series R2 Fan.

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On the bottom of the Define r4 we found rubber feet that will help prevent vibrations,
we also find the dust filter that covers both the PSU intake spot and and an additional 120mm/140mm Fan Slot.

 

Interior
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This image shows the right side panel that has been sound damped, we can also se the ModuVent Blank plate that also has sound damping material.

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At the first look on the inside of the Define R4 I could see that there has been allot of changes made to the R4. The cable holes has been relocated but most important is that the top cage can be easily rotated or removed, a feature I know many missed in the R3.

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The upper cage can be rotated, if you remove the HDD trays this will make the upper cage act like a air focus tunnel.
Note: You can with some imagination add a inner fan to the cage and this can dramatically lower over all system temperatures.

IMG_1688 
If you feel like it you can also remove the cage completely.

Note: The lower cage also has the flexibility to be rotated or removed, it can also be moved further in to the cage and even be installed on the 120 mm bottom intake slot if there is enough space behind your PSU. This feature also opens up for the water cooling enthusiasts.
For more information on this check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqLxS38SCVA

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As we remove the right side panel we find that there is even more new features to the R4.
The space between the back plate and the side panel is now 26mm to make the cable management much easier.

mount backplait

Another feature hidden is marked with read circles on the image above, these wholes are designed to allow you to install two SSD hard drives. If you only have like a 250gb SSD or two 128gb SSD, Imagine the cooling performance if you remove the two regular HDD cages.

Note: there is a downside to this, the SSD´s has to be installed prior the motherboard so if you want to replace a SSD mounted in these spots you will have to remove the motherboard.

The system

CPU: I7 930 with a Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-X58a-UD3 (rev 2.0)
GPU: Sapphire HD 7750 Ultimate (passive
Ram: 24 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3
System hard drive: PLEXTOR PX-128MR SSD
Storage and project hard drive : Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

Finished build

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Building a PC with the Fractal Design Define R4 is a dream. Cable management is spot on.
the space is great and as you can se in the image the finished build is very clean.
The Define R4 is probably THE best gage I have build in up to today.
I decided to use the lower cage for my SSD as I am only using two HDD´s in my DAW PC, to start of I decided to remove the top cage completely to se how the R4 can cool my system with only two fans.

Testing the R4
Before I show you my results there are some things you have to know!
This system is mainly used for DAW applications so quiet performance is more important then stress cooling. The Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 comes with one 140mm and one 120mm PWM fans but I locked them at 7V so I would get a low noise CPU cooling.
I test the system in three steps!
Step one:working with a big Studio Project (DAW).
Step two: Light gaming in Guildwars 2 (GW2).
Step three: 10 min with Prime95 (P95)
All tests are done with the fan controller on 12V, 7V and 5V.

System temps Results

Test / fan voltage CPU Temps NB Temps GPU Temps
DAW 12V 42c 53c 36c
GW 12V 52c 56c 58c
P95 12V 58c 57c 41c
DAW 7V 46c 55c 38c
GW 7V 55c 59c 60c
P95 7V 61c 60c 43c
DAW 5V 48c 57c 38c
GW 5V 59c 60c 62c
P95 5V 64c 60c 44c

The Define R4 manages to keep my system below recommended temps in all tests without a problem, this is done with only two fans so with additional fans in the right slots even a High end OC gaming rig will be kept cool.

when it comes to quiet computing the included Silent Series R2 Fans is quiet at 5V, at 7V I can hear the airflow from the fans but they are still very quiet , the 12V mode is a cooling mode so the R2 fans does make a bit more sound at 12V but they are not loud.
Now I am very picky when it comes to PC noise but i have to say the basic setup of the Define R4 and the included fans is a great start point for a quiet PC

Conclusion
Fractal Design uses the name Define for this case,  Define quiet computing?
The Define R4 is quiet computing defined, with the fans at 5V I can not hear the PC and I find my self thinking “did I start it up?”.
Building a PC with the Define R4 is a dream, cable management is excellent, the fan options is awesome and the Define R4 just shines Quality.

Not only is the Define R4 a perfect case for a studio PC that allows a near silent computing, The flexibility of the Define R4 is Superior to any case I have seen and the cooling options for the Define R4 is amazing making it suitable for anyone in need of a most impressive case.
To top this off the Fractal Design Define R4 can at the time this review was written be found for $109.99 US, £89.81 UK and 879KR a incredible price for a case in in this class with these features and flexibility.

PROS

  • Quiet
  • Flexible
  • Stylish
  • Great price
  • Cable management
  • good cooling
  • ModuVent

CONS

  • None

The Verdict
Editors

“The flexibility of the Define R4 is Superior to any case I have seen and the cooling options for the Define R4 is amazing making it suitable for anyone in need of a most impressive case.”

I would once again like to thank Fractal Design for letting me do this review.

And to my readers… Thanks you!!

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  1. Mxx
    October 10, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    So which case do you think is better, this one or Antec Solo 2 you previously reviewed?

    • October 10, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      The R4, way more, flexible and better cooling, and also more quiet.

  2. Mxx
    October 10, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    I still have original Antec Sonata. 🙂
    My only hesitation about R4 is “front” ports are on top, which over time will collect dust, and PSU intake is on the bottom under the case, which will also collect dust..

    • October 11, 2012 at 12:09 am

      the dust filter handles that for the psu and i never had issues with dust in the ports

  3. Tim
    November 4, 2012 at 6:06 am

    This or the Antec P280???

  4. Ryan
    November 23, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Pity, this case doesn’t have a hard drive docking.

  5. July 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    It’s my new case from 2 days. It’s fantastic.

    I have 7 fans inside (4 nf-p14 plx – 2 rear & top – 2 on cpu at top speed – the 2 140mm bundled and one nf-p12 on bottom at 5v) a 3.84 ghz q9550 around 50-55 C° at very intense photoshop and lightroom usage. (65 C° with intel burn test after 10 times)

    And of course the fans noise is barely audible. I think i can set also the 4 noctua 140 mm to 5v having a 1 ghz overclock, 60° maximum temp under heavy usage, and no noise.

    It is also extremely flexible, beautiful imho, and the customer care is quick and gentle, I tried myself with a not perfect clip.

    Imho a great company with great products, and it’s not my 100+ eur cabinet.
    No doubt about it, it’s the best cabinet I’ve ever had.

  6. January 3, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Hi:) I found this article while I was looking for a new case. Yesterday I bought Be Quiet! Dark Rock 2 cooler, and my current case is too narrow. ;( I can see you use Dark Rock 2 Pro, and I think my cooler is as high as yours. What do you think? Is Fractal Design Define R4 wide enough to hold my motherboard + BeQuiet Dark Rock 2 cooler?

  1. September 5, 2012 at 8:12 pm
  2. August 14, 2013 at 8:32 pm
  3. October 6, 2013 at 2:09 pm
  4. October 6, 2013 at 2:18 pm
  5. October 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm
  6. December 30, 2013 at 10:14 pm

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