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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.

Fractal Design Define R5
February 2015

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.

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