PC case-maker Fractal’s original Define case — the R2 — was launched back in 2010 and quickly earned accolades. It was a well thought-out design that also happened to be great at silencing a noisy PC — and the fact that it was affordable didn’t hurt either. We’ve seen a couple of updates to the design since then — the last in 2012, with the R4 — but it’s safe to say that the R5 is the most radical yet. Much has changed in the PC building arena since the previous iteration landed. For DIYers, having at least one 2.5-inch SSD installed has become the norm, for one, and setting up water-cooling has become a lot simpler — and therefore far more popular.
With the R5, Fractal’s kept a lot of what made the line popular in the first place, with a clean, modular design that’s very easy to work in and noise-dampening material used on the side, front and top panels. What’s new is essentially greater modularity, meaning you can easily reconfigure the case to your own needs. That ranges from building a quiet PC (leaving all the panels in place to reduce sound) to even the most extreme configurations: you can throw in water coolers on the bottom, front and top of the case for the ultimate in cooling.
And reconfiguring the case is very quick and easy. You can quickly remove all three of the drive cages (2 x 5.25-inch, 5 x 3.5-inch and 3 x 3.5-inch) as they’re held in place with thumb screws. And you can move the two 3.5-inch cages into over half a dozen different positions in order to suit the other hardware you have installed, such as bottom intake fans or water cooler, long graphics cards and so on. And if you want to remove the cages entirely you can do that, too; the R5 will let you install two 2.5-inch drives on the underside of the motherboard tray.
Also admirable is the design of the case’s top panels — there’s three, and you can remove them each separately. This means you can install extra cooling as required, while still containing as much noise as possible. And Fractal has also added in the ability to flip the door so that it opens in whatever direction suits you best.
In short, this is an almost obscenely flexible mid-tower case that it’s hard to find fault with. If you want an affordable case to build a PC — whether silent or high-performance — there’s few better.
Verdict: An outstanding upgrade to an already great case, which takes into account the latest PC-building needs.
From: Fractal Design