Scandinavian sensibilities define Fractal Design cases

Computex — In just a few short years, Fractal Design has come out of nowhere (Sweden, actually) to become one of the most talked-about enclosure makers in the PC business. The company opened its first North American office last year, and cases have finally started to become available in the US via Newegg.

Members of the Define series were the first to hit US shores, and it’s this family that best illustrates Fractal’s minimalist aesthetic. The Define’s clean lines cut a striking profile that’s at the same time understated enough to sit unobtrusively in one’s living room. I see a lot of Ikea in the Define’s design, an impression that’s reinforced by the surprisingly reasonable price tags attached to the models available at Newegg.

At the moment, the ‘egg only carries the mid-tower Define R3 and its taller XL brother. Neither is equipped with native USB 3.0 connectivity, but you’ll be able to buy SuperSpeed upgrade kits soon. USB 3.0 is built into the microATX Define Mini, which is pictured above and due to hit Newegg next month.

SuperSpeed ports have also infiltrated the Arc family, which deviates from the Define’s focus on low noise levels to offer better airflow to overclockers. The Arc ditches sound-insulating foam in favor of a mesh front panel and offers more internal mounts for fans and large water-cooling radiators. Fractal also adds a little more space behind the motherboard tray for cabling. As newer designs, the Arc micro and mid-towers have made the move to USB 3.0. They’re not available in North America just yet, though.

Fractal’s Core enclosures are targeted at budget systems, but they offer nearly all of the perks available in the more expensive models. Sadly, USB 3.0 ports didn’t make the cut. The microATX Core 1000 lacks a cutout behind the CPU socket, and its big brothers don’t have as many cable routing options as the Arc and Define cases. Although Newegg doesn’t currently stock any of Fractal’s low-end models, NCIX does carry the Core 3000 mid-tower.

After spending well over and hour talking to the guys from Fractal Design, I can see why there’s a lot of buzz surrounding the company’s cases. Fractal’s focus on value, combined with slick designs and an emphasis on low noise levels, strikes the appealing balance for PC enthusiasts. We’re going to have to get one of these cases in for testing—but which one?

Comments closed
    • jimmy900623
    • 8 years ago

    I observed about these from a shut buddy and was delighted when I was inside a placement to acquire it adhering to wanting out for some time.

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    • XDravond
    • 8 years ago

    Just a small note:
    They listen to the buyers!

    They are quite good at responding on questions and complaints on sweclockers, they keep on making the cases better after customers wishes, like the Define R1 was okay but had some issues R2 better and R3 is more or less the best reasonable priced case..

    • Skrying
    • 8 years ago

    I’d really like to get my hands on the Define Mini. Too bad it’s not available in the US yet. I wish more manufacturers would offer removable drive cages. Fractal Design is doing a good job of bringing gaming case features to non-gaming exteriors.

    • vvas
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]We're going to have to get one of these cases in for testing—but which one?[/quote<] The Define R3 please. :^) I'm with the low-noise camp, so the Define series is the only one which looks enticing, as the open meshes of the other ones are a no-go. In fact I'd be even happier if you tested the Define Mini, but I'll understand if you decide that full-ATX cases are probably more interesting to your readership.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      The Define R3, which I own, could use a USB3 upgrade, and a little more space behind the motherboard tray (I’ll have pictures in the forums eventually), but it’s otherwise perfect.

    • stoydgen
    • 8 years ago

    +1 for Fractal Design. Their cases are some of the best in terms of quality, price and features at the pricepoint they hit. I ended up with the Define R3 myself, and compared to the cases I’ve tried before, it was a snap to build in, and alot quieter while still maintaining reasonable levels of cooling. Picking the P182/P180 over the Define series would be a big bunch of fail.

    • Zenphic
    • 8 years ago

    Love Fractal Design cases. Smartly designed, great looks, cable management, anti-vibration HDD holders… love them!

    • hapyman
    • 8 years ago

    That microATX Define Mini looks real nice. Would love to see some more info about it.

    • holophrastic
    • 8 years ago

    I love rectangles. I just can’t tell you how ugly every other shape is. I’m quite thankful that every case designer in the world does nothing but rectangular cases.

    Seriously, this looks exactly like every other case in existence. And that’s a good thing. BEcause the last thing anyone would ever want, especially me, is to have a case that looks different in any way.

    • flip-mode
    • 8 years ago

    [quote=”Geoff”<]We're going to have to get one of these cases in for testing—but which one?[/quote<] Geoff, why not have them ship as many models as they are willing and review them all? I think all of those cases are appealing. I'd like to know more about each of them. Pretty please? Regardless, I'm going to be upgrading my case this summer, and the Define R3 or the Define Mini, now that I've seen it here, are at the top of my list.

      • Dissonance
      • 8 years ago

      [i<]Geoff, why not have them ship as many models as they are willing and review them all?[/i<] Because time is not an infinite resource 😉

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        Yes, as I occasionally point out to others myself. I thought there might be tweaks that could be made to the typical case review process that could compensate – efficiencies of scale type tweaks.

        For instance, do you have to do a complete system install for every case, or, since they’re all Fractal cases, are there particular commonalities between them that allow you to say something like “these all have essentially the same motherboard cutouts for wire routing and heatsink access” and “these all have the same type of removable hard drive bracket” and “these all use the same type of case fan”.

        Then you’re basically down to doing a full install in one case and just a thorough visual inspection and photography of the other cases and reporting on quality of construction, the differences between the models.

        Although, I could see a full install being required for the “Core” enclosure since it may be substantially different from the others.

        Just thinking out loud.

        • Duck
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]Because time is not an infinite resource ;)[/quote<] How can you be so sure that the amount of dark matter in the universe is enough to halt the rate of expansion and eventually draw all matter into a huge implosion that will ultimately destroy the space-time continuum?

          • Rakhmaninov3
          • 8 years ago

          LOL

          I just watched the latest Star Trek movie and was tickled.

            • Duck
            • 8 years ago

            lol thx. As far as I know though, what I said was factually accurate.

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        But my love for functional minimalist cases definitely is!

    • MixedPower
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]The company opened its first North American office last year, and cases have finally started to become available in the US via Newegg.[/quote<] Their cases have been available in the US for a year now through NCIXUS. I almost got the Define R2 for my current build but due to shipping issues ended up cancelling that order and going with a Lian Li case.

    • Firestarter
    • 8 years ago

    That Arc looks like a prime target for the Corsair H100 🙂

    • Corrado
    • 8 years ago

    I do like them. Simple, yet not cheap looking. ThermalTake and the like could take a cue here. Not many people want stupid gaudy cases. This is why I’ve always loved Lian Li cases. Simple, understated, yet classy looking.

      • Duck
      • 8 years ago

      Lian Li is industrial looking. At least compared to that mATX case at the top. Tasty lol.

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    Fractal Design, a name i learned recently but i was pleasantly surprised indeed. Their cases are simply awesome, just a tad too expensive for me but that’s not the point, they are a great alternative to well known and established brands.

      • StuG
      • 8 years ago

      Sadly I hear their build quality is lacking.

    • UltimateImperative
    • 8 years ago

    Is there a name for the case with 4 x 5.25″ bays? It looks like the Core 3000, but the Core 3000 only has 2 x 5.25″ bays.

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