When I was younger, I eagerly awaited Car and Driver's sport sedan comparison test issue, to see whether any competitor had accomplished the rare feat of dethroning BMW's seemingly unbeatable 3-series. As mid-towers go, Corsair's Obsidian 450D is a lot like the 3-series: it's such a good all-rounder that it's very difficult to best. Based on my testing of the Define R5, however, I believe that Fractal Design's latest is good enough to steal the 450D's crown.
That's not to say that the Define R5 is perfect. I wish Fractal had made the removable ModuVent panels at the top of the case a little more finger-friendly. The company could have included some corresponding magnetic filters for these top vents, too. I also wish Fractal had made the R5's drive trays tool-free, and I was let down a little by the case's occasional hard-drive-related buzziness.
In almost every other regard, though, living with the Define R5 is a pleasure. Building a system inside of it is practically effortless. Fractal has clearly thought about every inch of the case, from the easy-to-use side panels and spacious radiator mounts to the generous cable-routing area behind the motherboard tray. The modular insides can be easily adapted to suit different builds, and the R5 is a quiet runner, too. For such a competent case, one would expect a BMW-esque price, but the Define R5 is a great value at only $109.99-$119.99.
Perhaps most importantly (to mangle another Steve Jobs-ism), the best-designed products should delight their owners. More often than not, I was delighted by the Define R5. That rare quality, along with the R5's many virtues and sensible price, make this case an easy pick for our coveted Editor's Choice award.
43 comments — Last by Jeff Kampman at 10:35 AM on 03/02/15
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