As we have watched the Define Series from Fractal Design grow up in the last few years, we have no doubt that the Define R5 is the pinnacle of all the models delivered to date. This model keeps all the things we have come to like in the Define Series, like silence in operation, a simplistic exterior, the use of sound absorbent materials, and it is built to take on anything that a chassis will go through, and then some.
On top of all of this, there are still more features to come. The fan controller is sort of expected from Fractal Design, but the new top panel design and what it offers in both ModuVent panels and potential water and air cooling support is a pleasant surprise. The ability to completely gut the front of the ODD and HDD bays is also nice for the optional support it offers, and having a pair of 2.5" drives on the motherboard tray means there is less need for those bays. To sum it up simply: there isn't one bit of the installation process or the rearranging of the chassis that was in any way troublesome.
If there is anything to complain about with the Define R5, it would have to be the stock airflow. While it did give us near average results on our CPU and GPU, the chassis is in definite need of more airflow for a gamer or heavy user to be happy in the long term. To sort of counteract that though, this model is intended to have users go all out, as the chassis is designed to handle it, and the stock fans may not even stay in the build at all.
The other thing that we need to point out, even though we expected it, is that once the bays are all out of the chassis, there is a fair bit of torsion flex when you try to move the chassis around without the panels on. Considering we removed most of the cross bracing by taking the bays out, we were fine with the amount of flex, and once the panels are back on, this flex is reduced to almost nothing at all, even if you opt to forgo the thumbscrews and just use the latch and pins on the left side.
As for the limitations in the Define R5, if you can even call them that, we feel that even the most powerful system builders will find enough room for any needs in water cooling components, or even opting to use air cooling. With 180mm of room provided, the majority of coolers will fit without issue. The real issue that anyone will run across is what you want to do in the floor of the chassis. If you plan to pull the bays and set them side by side, or to run two fans in the floor, then you are going to need a very short PSU to accomplish this, and will require the right planning ahead of time.
Considering everything we have just seen, and the undeniable fact that this is the best laid out and most feature rich of the Define Series chassis to date, the Define R5 shows that you can get quite a bit for your hard earned dollar. As tested, you should be able to get this chassis for a mere $109.99 when they hit shelves in December, and even if you want to opt for the windowed version, it will only cost another $10. Also keep in mind, if black is not your thing, this chassis will also be available in white and titanium as well, and both with have the windowed panel option.
It is rare that we find a chassis that is well appointed, strong as an ox, and offers many ways to keep volume from the chassis at bay all at once, but the Define R5 does it all. Fractal Design has broken the mold and shown that they are indeed still relevant, and ready to take the market and its customers head on with this new Define R5 mid-tower.
|Quality including Design and Build||100%|
|Bundle and Packaging||98%|
|Value for Money||97%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||98%|
The Bottom Line: Fractal Design stepped up its game and delivered a chassis with great structural integrity, packed with features and options, silence, and a great price! The Define R5 is Fractal Design's best chassis yet.
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