Fractal Designs R4 Review Page: 1

Fractal R4 Review  

Introduction

The R3 was a firm favorite here with all members of the OC3D team, and was at the centre of quite a bit of controversy at one point in time. We are sure we don't need to go into any detail, if you don't know what we are on about you missed out! As with many things in life, cars, graphics cards, women, girl friends, wife? There is a new model in town that is crying out for your attention! Please welcome to the stage the Fractal R4, its now time for OC3D to peel back her layers and see if the package tastes as sweet as her older sister. Ok enough innuendos this isn't a 50 shades book!

 

Specifications

Motherboard compatibilityATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Front interface2 - USB 3.0, 2 - USB 2.0
Audio in/out
Power button with LED (blue)
Reset button
Fan controller (behind door)
Drive bay capacity2 - 5.25” bays
8 - 3.5” HDD trays - all compatible with SSDs
2 - 2.5” extra SSD positions
Expansion slots7 + 1
PSU compatibilityATX PSUs up to 170 mm deep when using the bottom fan location;
when not using this fan location longer PSUs (up to 270 mm deep) can be used 
Graphics card compatibilityGraphics cards up to 295mm in length with the top HDD cage installed
With the top cage removed, graphics cards up to 430mm in length may be installed
Cooling / Ventilation3 - ModuVent™ plates – two in the top and one in the side
7 - Fan positions (2 fans included)
Filtered fan slots in front and bottom
CPU cooler compatibilityCPU coolers up to 170 mm tall (when no fan is installed in the side panel)
Additional information26 mm of space for cable routing behind the motherboard plate
Thick rubber grommets on all holes on the motherboard plate
Colours available / SKUPearl Black / FD-CA-DEF-R4-BL
Titanium Grey / FD-CA-DEF-R4-TI
Arctic White / FD-CA-DEF-R4-WH
Case dimensions (WxHxD) (mm)232 x 464 x 523
Net weight (kg)12.3
Package contentsDefine R4 computer case
User manual
Accessory box
Front1 - hydraulic bearing 140mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed (included)
1 - 120/140mm fan 
Rear1 - hydraulic bearing 140mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed (included)
Top2 - 120/140mm fans - positions also support 240/280mm radiators
Bottom1 - 120/140mm fan
Side1 - 140mm fan
Fan controller1 - integrated fan controller for up to 3 fans (included)




Video Review

 

Conclusion

So where to start, the R4 keeps to the same family heritage as the R3 now this is definately a good thing but at the same time we think they could have been slightly braver considering this is an all new case. Its just the design is so similar to the older version youd be fooled into thinking its just some subtle tweaks to the original design.

The new model is wider and slightly taller than the older version, the extra girth gives you extra cable management room behind the motherboard tray and also a 140mm fan at the back end of the case too. The 140mm fan comes hand in hand with extra room in the business side of the case which allows you to fit much larger CPU heatsinks, saying that the NH-D14 fit in the R3 albeit a little on the snug side. Talking of CPU heatsinks as a general rule of thumb we would say this case does NOT support the H100, in some remote cases you may get it in around your kit but for 99% of you we would say its a no no.

The main updates on the R4 are the removeable hard drive bay at the front of the case, yes this does allow massive GPU's to be fitted but seeing as a 7970 fits in there fine anyways we would say the main point of this is increased airflow to the cards. The HDD bay can be rotated but due to the direction the HDD's would have to be fitted and removed we honestly see this as being unusable/completely pointless so we'll just ignore it.

The other main upgrade is the ability to now use 140mm fans in the front of the case, should you already have a set of 120mm fans though dont stress as both sizes are supported. Another nice touch is the built in fan controller behind the front door, with 12v, 7, and 5V options and the ability to connect up to 3 fans natively is a great step forward from the old PCI slot style fan controller that was bundled with the R3.

Those purists will be hapy to find out the best features of the R3 are all still here, bitumen lined doors that have the cloth coating for that extra quality touch, the optional fan mounts in the roof and door also still have the blanking plates covering them that also have the thick foam sound deadening on them too and they also still have the cloth tops. 

All in all the R4 is a brilliant case for £80, just like the R3 is best suited to those of you looking for a very quiet or even silent case to base your system in. The thing is with the ability to now remove that HDD bay it could also be a great choice for those of you looking for a subtle case to base your performance rig in. Only time will tell if the R4 is as popular as its older sister or will create as much controversy but for now we think she is gold award worthy and we look forward to seeing what the future holds when you all get to show what you can do with her too!

    

Thanks to Fractal for the R4 on test here today, you can discuss your thoughts on this review in the OC3D Forums.