Reviewed: Fractal Design Define R5

Final Thoughts

Noise

On the low and medium settings, the included 140mm GP14 case fans are barely audible and on high, although you can hear airflow, we couldn’t pick out the case fans over other components in the case. There is a difference when all panels and MODUVENT covers are in place – so the design works. With the top covers off, we were able to hear the hard drive a little more as well as the pump on our Kelvin water cooler. With the covers in place, any noise from our Nepton 120XL, MSI Frozr V GPU cooler and hard drive was certainly dampened. 

When locked down with all covers in place and our 120mm Cooler Master AIO water unit in place at the rear of the case, the system wasn’t an obvious source of noise in our quiet test lab area. 

The case itself is basically silent and it does a good job of keeping the components less audible than other cases.

Airflow

We tested the Define R5 with a pair of SLI GTX670 graphics cards and found the airflow on low to be adequate but medium is a more conservative option. Overclocking our CPU generated extra heat but didn’t cause us any issues either. If I was building a rig with multiple graphics cards in this case, I’d make sure to have 2 front fans and probably run them either on medium via the case fan controller or control them off the motherboard with software like ASUS Fan Xpert 2.

The fan/radiator compatibility is what we would expect from more open style cases and it was a surprise to see the options available with the Define R5. With Drive cages fitted, 310mm is a sufficient allocation for graphics cards. If anyone needs the full 410mm that’s available when you remove the drive cage please drop me an email with the details of your graphics card!

Attention to Detail

It’s hard to know where to start here so I’ll just list all the things that we found really handy when building in the Define R5.

  • Cable Management
  • Build Quality
  • SSD Mounting
  • Hard Drive Cage configuration and airflow when empty
  • Ease of re-configuration
  • Subtle appearance
  • Extensive fan and radiator options
  • Well fitted easy to clean dust filters

Pricing

At the time of writing this, the Define R5 is under NDA and the street price unavailable but the Recommended Retail Price from Fractal Design is AUD$149 for the Define R5 without a side window and AUD$159 for a model with a side window. When we looked at the features, versatility and build quality on offer, we had to give this a value award.

Conclusion

The Define R5 has achieved everything Fractal Design were aiming for. It is simple and elegant, highly configurable, affordable, quiet and there is obvious attention to detail. The design and manufacturing teams nailed this one.

We really liked the clean look, practical versatility and build quality of the Define R5. This is a case that is easy to install, easy to clean and quiet to run.

As far as recommending this case, I really liked the Define R3 back in 2012 and used it for my home server. That Define R3 is still in service but I will be replacing it with a Define R5 in the very near future.

  Fractal Design Define R5
   DefineR5black 8-thumb

PROS

Cable Management dream
Very quiet 
Highly configurable in terms of cooling, drive options and a reversable door
Versatile:  Gaming, Home / Small Office Server, HTPC
Good Value
Quick and easy to build with

CONS

– None
Awards EditorsChoiceAward TheSilenceAward TheValueAward

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