Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
While we may have missed out on getting our hands-on the original design, we have still seen the Define chassis grow into something really great. With help of users, and a close ear on the pulse of the market, Fractal Design has yet to fail to impress us with this series of cases. From the very beginning of the Define Series, Fractal Design set out to offer the masses very solidly constructed cases with great airflow, and virtually no noise emitted into the environment. Of course, along the way there have been minor changes here and there to trim, layout, or the customizability of the design, but the model we are looking at today has to be the largest evolution in the Define series since it was launched.
So, what did Fractal Design think the masses wanted this time? Well, it seems just about everything in the chassis has been "touched" in some way or another. To keep up with the competition, Fractal Design made changes all around. On the exterior, there is a new ModuVent system deployed on the roof, and this time around, the front panel door is easily reversible. On the inside, the entire front can be stripped of bays, or reconfigured to suit your build, and the motherboard tray has been changed with new openings and tie points. On top of all of that lovin' from Fractal, everything was done with water cooling potential in mind, and as you will soon see, they pulled out all the stops to make this happen.
For all of you that have had, or currently have the pleasure of housing your gear in a Fractal Design chassis, this chassis will not be a hard sell to you at all. You will very much appreciate what has gone into this design, and with very little more than a few pictures, we are sure you will be off to find this chassis for your next build. For those of you that have never had the pleasure of owning a Fractal Design chassis from any series, we feel that you will want to take a long hard look at what their latest chassis has brought to the market.
As the NDA lifts, we are proud to bring you the Define R5, the latest, and likely greatest of the Define Series. If there was ever a time to jump in with both feet and try out a silent chassis with all the bells and whistles, this is it. We have high expectations of cases that can be shot with a shotgun and still sit there smiling back at you, and we were in no way disappointed with the chassis you are about to see.
The top section of the chart notes the R5 offers a pair of removable 5.25" bays, and eight 3.5" bays that are removable and re-locatable; all of the trays will accommodate 2.5" drives as well. If you have no plans to keep the bays in your build, there are also two dedicated 2.5" drive locations on the back of the motherboard tray. At the back of the chassis, there are seven expansion slots, and the motherboard tray is capable of housing an ATX, a Micro-ATX, or a Mini-ITX motherboard.
Just touching on the cooling, we see there are nine locations, but the second bit of the chart takes it much further. Along with the included parts of the front I/O panel, we start to find limitations like 180mm for the CPU cooler, some PSU limitations (depending on fans and HDD layout), and 310mm worth of video card will fit with the HDD rack in the chassis.
The chart then moves on to spacing behind the motherboard tray, and it also mentions the Velcro tie straps, the option to switch the front panel swing, and the cool latch system for the left door. The chart also informs us that we will be able to find this chassis in black, titanium, and white, all of which will have the option of a solid panel or a windowed panel. Moving into weights and measures, we see that the R5 is 232mm wide, 451mm in height, 531mm deep, and weighs in at 10.2 kilos while empty.
The lower half of the chart explains all of the cooling options that are designed into this chassis, as well as the built-in features that will help simplify things. In the front of the chassis, there is room for a pair of 120 or 140mm fans, and there is a single FD Dynamic GP14 fan installed that will cruise along at 1000 RPM. The rear of the chassis will also allow for a 120 or 140mm fan, but only one, and this is where the second GP14 fan is preinstalled. After the ModuVent is removed, the top of the chassis will allow for up to three 120mm or 140mm fans to be installed. Depending on PSU length and HDD cage installation, the floor of the chassis has room for another pair of either 120mm or 140mm fans. The ninth, and final fan location is in the left side of the chassis, near the bottom of the panel, but as the chassis is shipped, this location is blocked with a ModuVent cover. Of course, all of these areas also support radiators. Additionally, the chassis offers a three fan, three position fan controller built into the front bezel, and the front and floor of the chassis are covered with easily accessible and removable dust filtering.
Since the NDA is just lifting, availability of the Define R5 will be quite low for a week or so. We are told that stock should be arriving in early December, so you can acquire your own Define R5 before the end of the year. We also like the intended MSRP for both the standard non-window version that we received, as well as for the windowed versions. On this side of the pond, you should be able to locate the windowless version in any of the three colors for $109.99. For those of you who want the side panel window, it will only set you back an additional portrait of Hamilton, as the MSRP for those three versions is set at $119.99. In our opinion, both versions are priced near the top of where we feel a mid-tower chassis can still sell at, but the feature set and design have to be top-of-the-line to pull it off well. However, from what we have seen, the Fractal Design Define R5 is very much worth the investment.
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