|Fractal Design Define R4 Arctic White Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Steven Iglesias-Hearst|
|Thursday, 14 February 2013|
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Fractal Design Define R4 Final Thoughts
Not all hardware has a benchmark that can quantify its performance. PC cases are no exception to this rule, so we must actually build a system inside it to gauge its build quality, accessibility and special features. Transitioning from one case to another is a little more difficult than installing a scratch build for obvious reasons, so accessibility is desired when performing a PC case upgrade. Small things like pre-installed motherboard stand-off's save time, and well placed cable routing pass through points make a nicer looking finish require less effort. Clearance behind the motherboard for routing cables is desired, and hard drive orientation is also an important factor affecting looks and airflow.
The transition from my previous case to the Fractal Design Define R4 case was very easy and straight forward, there is a lot of room to work with and my only struggle was the top middle motherboard securing screw due to the huge NH-D14 CPU cooler restricting access. Of course I installed the motherboard with the CPU cooler installed as it didn't require any maintenance other than blowing out the dust build up. While swapping out your hardware to your new case it's a good idea to do a little spring clean of your hardware removing dust that builds up over time. The bottom cable pass through can get very crowded since it deals with most if not all of the cables that require routing, and thankfully the Define R4 has an extra large pass through in place to deal with this scenario.
There aren't any flashy cable routing channels behind the motherboard tray like you would see in a more expensive PC case, but I don't think the Fractal Design Define R4 really needs them. There is a very spacious 26mm gap between the motherboard tray and side panel to deal with even the thickest of cables, and plenty of cable tie down points should you require a neater cable arrangement. The cable pass though points of the Define R4 were perfect for my motherboard which meant only minimal cables were visible inside the case.
The CPU back plate cut-out requires a trade off between size and structural integrity. Make it too small and it won't suit all motherboards, make it too big and the motherboard tray will be too flexible. Once again I think Fractal design have hit the nail right on the head with this design. The Fractal Design Define R4 Case weighs slightly less than 12kg empty, with my system installed it weighs 19kg. I can only imagine how much it would weigh with two or three video cards and a custom watercooling system installed. Suffice to say the Define R4 is not the sort of case you will be taking to a LAN party, it is best suited to a workstation or stationary home build - designed to blend in and not demand too much attention while still retaining the build quality PC hardware enthusiasts demand.