The Fractal Define R4; what's not to like, really. On the most basic level, the Define R4 is sleek, sexy and is an elegant looking addition to any environment, even in the living room, next to the TV. On top of that there is the fact that this chassis is based with the idea to virtually eliminate all noises associated with a chassis. There is the sound deadening material in the front, both sides and even the fan holes are covered with the ModuVent panels to keep all sounds at bay if you don't chose to fill those three holes with fans. I mean even though it is a simple controller, even fan control for the perfect level of noises for your needs can be used on up to three fans inside the chassis, provided they use 3-pin power connections. I haven't even discussed the removable cages and the extra room added to the right side of the case for easier wire management, nor is I get to the dust filters and the ease of access to both of them. Seriously at every turn in this chassis there is something you can take note of.
During build, reassembly and testing phase I got a real grasp for the solidity and forethought that went into redesigning the R3 to a much better offering with the Define R4. There was a structural stability in this chassis that I haven't seen in a while. Even with all of the hard drive bays out, the panels off and full of the weight of the components, this chassis doesn't flex at all and I tried to do exactly that, all to no avail. I also noticed that things like the threads for all the screws were tight and made you feel that once something was mounted, it was very secure with no slop at all in the holes. Even as far as replacing the panels, the holes align great, but you may want the help of a screwdriver for all the thumbscrews in the chassis.
Moving into the testing I found there is an ample amount of airflow with the bays removed and only using the pair of 140mm Silent Series R2 fans that came with the Define R4. If you demand better than average cooling in your chassis, there are seven total locations for fans to be installed; Fractal covers just two of those, so there is tons of room for cooling improvement, but at the gains of noise levels. As the chassis is shipped, even testing the fan controller at 12V, there isn't any noise audible from the Define R4 until I got within just a few inches of the chassis and even then I had to be near the rear of the chassis.
I know this is slightly teasing you since the current availability is nil anywhere I looked, but there just isn't anything that makes me shake my head in disappointment with what the Define R4 delivers or in the packaging or hardware included with it. If I really had to nit-pick this chassis to find any faults, I could see users wanting a native USB 3.0 to the nine-pin USB 2.0 adapter. While most new boards have native USB 3.0 on them, this is a chassis you will even want to use to re-house older builds and there I could see a real use for this to be included.
Although with an MSRP as low as $109 I can forgive this little omission in the kit. For what Fractal Design is asking of the Define R4 and the fact that sales and competition may bring that pricing down a bit more, this chassis is definitely worth investing into. For a chassis that is completely silent as shipped, has a ton of options and a full feature set I am please and honored to deliver the Fractal Design R4 Black Pearl our highest award.
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