Fractal Designs Arc Midi Review

Fractal Arc Review

 Fractal Designs Arc Midi Review

Introduction

It seems such a long time ago I first heard about this case, I'm almost sure it was at least 3 months ago it first ended up on the Quiet PC website and everyone went nuts trying to buy it. The good news is for us the wait is over, the bad news is you guys and gals may have to wait until the end of July!

Its no secret that all of the team and a massive proportion of the forums members are big fans of the R3, it has been a main feature of several of our competitions and forum members build logs. With its solid construction, clean lines and the ability to build a PC so quiet you only know its on by the power LED the R3 wasn't hard to become a fan of. So the Arc has a very high bar set by its older brother, so lets move on and see if it can match it let alone beat it.

Key features

  • Stylish, minimalistic front panel with alu-look
  • Optimized for performance, massive cooling and water cooling support
  • A total of 8(!) fan slots (2x 140mm in front, 3x 120/140 in top, 1x  120/140 in bottom, 1x 120/140 in rear, 1x 140/180mm in side panel)
  • 3x 140mm fans included (1x in front, 1x in rear and 1x in top)
  • Support for dual 120mm radiator in top, even thicker radiators up to 60mm in thickness
  • 8x white painted HDD trays, with silicone mounting
  • Upper HDD cage is removable and rotatable
  • USB3 support in front panel
  • Excellent cable routing and cable routing covers
  • Easily removable front panel with clip on fan slots
  • Extra, vertically mounted expansion slot, suitable for fan controllers or non-input expansion cards

 

Specifications

Model NumberFD-CA-ARC-BL
Dimensions(WxHxD) 230 x 460 x 515mm
Motherboard CompatibilityMini ITX, Micro ATX and ATX
Power Supply CompatibilityStandard ATX, max depth 170mm
PCI/AGP Card Compatibility290mm, 470mm with HDD bay removed
3.5" Drive Bays8, all SSD compatible
5.25" Drive Bays2, one bay converts to 3.5" for floppy or card reader
Roof Cooling FansSpace for 3 120/140mm, one supplied
Rear/Side Cooling FansRear - space for one 140mm fan, supplied; Side - space for one 140/180 fan not supplied
Front/Floor Cooling FansFront - space for two 120-140mm fans (both with filters), one supplied; Floor - space for one 120/140mm fan (with filter), not supplied
Expansion Card Slots7 + 1, with sleek white painted brackets
Front I/O Ports2x USB2, 1x USB3 and Audio I/O
AccessoriesPCI fan controller, controllers up to 3 fans
Weight10.0kg
Warranty24 months
EAN barcodeN/A



Video Review




Conclusion  

Our fears at the beginning of this review were that the Arc would either just be an R3 with a body kit or that the quality would have slipped and be no where near the level of its older brother. Thankfully I can report that its neither of the above. I will admit early in the conclusion that the plastic aluminium looking front will be a Marmite moment with many potential customers. We all had our reservations here at OC3D but when you start using it is really not something that bothered us, if anything with the recessed Fractal logo at the top its a really nice feature. The long section of mesh at the front that is carried on at the top also gives the case a really sleek and tidy look.

Cant help but feel that the side panel lets the case down, the fact its just got the 140mm/180mm grill in the side with no blank or dust filter just seems lazy. It would be amazing if Fractal could offer a window panel as an optional extra as this has been something all of the cases including the R3 could have really done with so we can proudly show our hardware off.

The feature that really stands out with the Arc is its width,  a small detail by oh my what a difference a bit of girth makes. There's no need for extra inches in length or height, but make it a bit wider and you'll definitely feel..... erm? no notice the difference (that's what she said). On the back of the case the exhaust fan is a 140mm (120mm optional) so this straight away lets you know its not a small case in width. In the roof there is options for 3x 140mm/120mm fans or a single 180mm fan.

Where it gets really clever is when we mention watercooling, so many cases state they are watercooling compatible yet delivery very little in compatibility. The Arc however can accommodate a full sized 240mm radiator that's 60mm thick and a set of regular 25mm thick 120mm fans internally without you having any special requirements for you motherboard or ram. Its able to do this because the radiator is sat right over near the door of the case and not smack bang in the middle. By moving the Radiator as far away from the motherboard as possible this allows you to use a much thicker radiator and fans and yet still be able to use large components like tall ram and motherboards with huge mosfet heat sinks. This may sound like a small feature but its a feature Ive been harping on about for a very long time and this is the first time Ive ever seen it put into practice...... It works well very well.

Having a midtower sized case that can accommodate a 60mm thick rad with fans without any ifs, ands or buts is a big deal, so much of a big deal that I would go as far as to saying this is THE best midtower chassis on the market today if you are looking to watercool your system. Taking this into account you wouldn't be punished for thinking it would carry a hefty price tag. The Corsair 650D is £140 and that doesn't even support 60mm rads. So how much is the Fractal? £74.99. Sorry this deserves a new paragraph even if my English teacher would put a red line under this.

The Arc is just £74.99.

So if you are looking for a case that can easily accommodate a watercooling loop to cool even the most insane CPU overclocks but is compact, looks great and wont cost you big bucks the Fractal Arc is the chassis for you. If you are looking for a silent air cooled chassis with the 140mm fans the Fractal really delivers on this point as well, then your only dilemma is do you like the look of the Arc or the R3 more. We can't decide so we hope you can!

After all this there was no doubt in out minds that the Fractal Designs Arc Midi deserved nothing less than the coveted OC3D gold award. Unlike some other sites when you see our Gold award it really means something.

      

 Thanks to Fractal Designs for the Arc on test today, you can discuss this review and many other topics in our forums.

«Prev 1 Next»

Most Recent Comments

16-06-2011, 09:17:10

tinytomlogan
After the run away success of the R3 Fractal are back with a new midtower chassis. Can they really better the orignal design?



Continue Reading

16-06-2011, 09:28:12

Ghosthud1
Been waiting for this case for awhile now whilst my pc sat on the motherboard box, 5 weeks more to go.

great review this case really shines out to me!

16-06-2011, 09:32:53

jonowee
I thought in photos the Arc looked great and smart in the usual Fractal Design way, but the review opened up even greater detail into the details Fractal managed to work in. Excellent chassis review as per usual.

Edit: I'd happily pick this free breathing Fractal case over the Coolermaster HAF mid towers.

16-06-2011, 09:34:41

killablade
w00000t! Never expected it to be THIS good.. O.o

16-06-2011, 09:44:25

sheroo
You've just had me in absolute fits mate - lovin' the leisure ware!

16-06-2011, 10:13:50

SieB
Very tempted to go for the ATX version after seeing the vid for the midi last night but then again I might just go for the Midi but I think i'll wait till after the review of the ATX version before deciding

16-06-2011, 10:56:09

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by SieB View Post

Very tempted to go for the ATX version after seeing the vid for the midi last night but then again I might just go for the Midi but I think i'll wait till after the review of the ATX version before deciding
This is the ATX chassis mate

16-06-2011, 11:02:35

SieB
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post

This is the ATX chassis mate
Ahh cool, I got confused by the beginning of the vid where you mentioned the two different versions. My mind is made up then, i'm going for it.... there goes my PSU budget

16-06-2011, 12:03:22

sheroo
Dude, you said that this is the best wc mid tower. Why do you rate it over the 690, as that can take 2*240 rads? Do you think they missed a trick here, in that if they allowed all the drive cages to be removed you could have mounted a rad in the front or on the floor?

16-06-2011, 12:45:57

silenthill
this is one of the best water cooling mid tower cases I have seen for some time, as for the fan in the side panel is to improve the air flow for the radiator which will be sucking air out of the inside of the case and if you test the case without the fan on the side panel (window only) you will find a big difference in the cooling performance of the loop, I have actually tried this with the coolermaster cases and the reason for this is there is not enough air coming in the case from the fans in front of the case which pass through the hard drive cage which reduces the air flow by a 1/2 and I think the best option will be to put a window and a side fan like the HAF X which will make this case god like.

16-06-2011, 13:01:01

dugdiamond
3 cheers for fractal designs - hip hip hooray (x3)

stonking case

i want one

16-06-2011, 13:01:58

piotrekhc
That is really nice case , I assume bcoz of its depth it will be easy to fit silverarrow, ill be building a new rig soon coz my old one goes to my finance,and that might be a my new case , ready for Diablo 3 ;D

16-06-2011, 13:52:47

badtaylorx
gee thanx......im literally 2 days away from hitting the send button on my next build (silverstone raven e included)and now you hafta go and make me reconsider!!!!!hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

16-06-2011, 13:59:58

marsey99
but the real question is, will it play crysis? no i mean does the susanoo fit

does look a breeze that case, really has made my cm690 look dated that :|

16-06-2011, 14:12:11

steve30x
This is making me considering this case. I was'nt going to upgrade for another four years , but as I have a microATX 1156 motherboard (Its getting hard to find a good 1156 motherboard) I am considering going to P67 with an i5 2500 , Corsair H100 and a good case. Ill have 8 gb ram (I had 8GB but one stick of ram was bad) with that. I like the way that 1155 supports the really high speed DDR3 ram and when overclocking the CPU the ram doesnt get adjusted. My motherboard doesnt like my CORSAIR XMS3 DDR3 1600MHZ.

So this case is one of my options along with the Corsair 650D. I dont know of any other case that would be good for cooling , but quiet and will fit very large GPU's. I only have four HDD's so I could remove the top HDD cage in this case and give the GPU more air.

16-06-2011, 15:55:39

Ming
I just bought my case, but its going back for this one. Its ideal for my needs, not very tall, yet plenty of width for water cooling.

Pukker!!

16-06-2011, 16:52:44

chris8224
Awesome case

16-06-2011, 17:28:35

Saltire35
ETA at most retailers in the UK still end of July ?

16-06-2011, 17:35:48

Ghosthud1
yeh most retailers are heading for 5 weeks tops on these cases, annoying because i want one now :/

16-06-2011, 17:40:37

Saltire35
Quote:
Originally Posted by silenthill View Post

this is one of the best water cooling mid tower cases I have seen for some time, as for the fan in the side panel is to improve the air flow for the radiator which will be sucking air out of the inside of the case and if you test the case without the fan on the side panel (window only) you will find a big difference in the cooling performance of the loop, I have actually tried this with the coolermaster cases and the reason for this is there is not enough air coming in the case from the fans in front of the case which pass through the hard drive cage which reduces the air flow by a 1/2 and I think the best option will be to put a window and a side fan like the HAF X which will make this case god like.
Noooooo !!!

16-06-2011, 17:42:33

SPS
Why did this case get a gold award, but the Xigmatek Elysium only got a silver?

17-06-2011, 00:50:32

metaaltebbes
Yet another little gem by Fractal.....

Absolutely love it,as well as the Core 3000,but this one is even better imho,love the wc options.

Great review Tom,this one is going on my must have short list

17-06-2011, 01:42:21

AMDFTW
looks awsome for a case.

17-06-2011, 06:31:25

Ovek
Nice if a little... drab.

Edit: On thing I don't like, why is the Fractal logo so huge on the front?

17-06-2011, 16:56:48

Luger718
how much would this case be in USD? im guessing newegg is gonna take forever to get this case in stock

17-06-2011, 17:01:50

SieB
Usually if something is say $100 USD then it's around 80 GBP so i'd say around $100 at a guess.

EDIT: according to this http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/cases/43410-fractal-designs-new-arc-midi-tower-case-review.html $109 don't know how reliable that source is though.

17-06-2011, 17:21:28

Saltire35
80.00 GBP = $129.54 USD

Source - www.xe.com

17-06-2011, 17:25:24

SieB
Strait conversions don't work because of UK tax.

17-06-2011, 17:25:50

Terrifictez85
Quote:
Originally Posted by SPS View Post

Why did this case get a gold award, but the Xigmatek Elysium only got a silver?
The main reason the elysium got a silver was due to the poor window and cpu cut outs i believe.

17-06-2011, 18:00:13

SPS
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terrifictez85 View Post

The main reason the elysium got a silver was due to the poor window and cpu cut outs i believe.
I also believe these were the similar issues with the Arc Midi

18-06-2011, 02:38:49

Luger718
good so itll probbaly be aorunf the same price as an R3 $110ish

18-06-2011, 05:36:54

Terrifictez85
Quote:
Originally Posted by SPS View Post

I also believe these were the similar issues with the Arc Midi
He never said there was an issue with the cpu acces hole in the Arc chassis. The main reason the Elysium got silver was for the watercooling options and silly HDD rack as well as the cpu access hole. I believe Tom stated that if they revised the issues he'd give it a gold and personally say it is the best watercooling case out.

18-06-2011, 06:32:34

SieB
Also the Arc is a mid tower and the Elysium is a full tower SR2 case.

The arc got the gold for being the best water cooling option mid tower and the only thing missing from it was the window.

The Elysium got marked down for not making the room for the rad in the bottom to go to the front of the case, for the window and for the second CPU hole for the SR2 not having any rubber grommet or being covered.

18-06-2011, 07:31:42

sheroo
I'm still struggling as to why its the best mid tower wc case when the 690 will take 2 * 240 rads?

18-06-2011, 07:55:05

steve30x
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheroo View Post
I'm still struggling as to why its the best mid tower wc case when the 690 will take 2 * 240 rads?
The Corsair 650D is slightly higher to fit a 240 roof radiator too. If the radiator was further to the left (looking from the front) Im sure it would have gotten the gold.

18-06-2011, 07:55:15

SieB
The 690 II is good but you are restricted with RAM size if you want a RAD in the top as well as not being able to fit a 60m thick rad because of the heatsinks on the motherbaord. If you want a rad in the bottom you have to have a PSU that is no bigger than 160mm long because any longer and you can't get one in and even then it's still a tight fit and very cramped.

The Arc has much better air flow, fan options and room to fit any size RAM and there is clearance for the motherboard heatsink so you are able to fit a thick rad no probs. I know it's one rad vs two but the other options and the amount of space to play with are better than the ones in the 690 II. With a bit of modding there might be a way to get a second RAD in the Arc as well.

Other features the Arc has as well is USB 3, rubber grommets for cable management and better overall cable management and it looks better, IMO.

My $0.02

18-06-2011, 08:11:01

nothingspecial
Agreed on pretty much everything except the looks

that said, I do have the white one...

18-06-2011, 09:13:23

sheroo
Quote:
Originally Posted by SieB View Post

The 690 II is good but you are restricted with RAM size if you want a RAD in the top as well as not being able to fit a 60m thick rad because of the heatsinks on the motherbaord. If you want a rad in the bottom you have to have a PSU that is no bigger than 160mm long because any longer and you can't get one in and even then it's still a tight fit and very cramped.

The Arc has much better air flow, fan options and room to fit any size RAM and there is clearance for the motherboard heatsink so you are able to fit a thick rad no probs. I know it's one rad vs two but the other options and the amount of space to play with are better than the ones in the 690 II. With a bit of modding there might be a way to get a second RAD in the Arc as well.

Other features the Arc has as well is USB 3, rubber grommets for cable management and better overall cable management and it looks better, IMO.

My $0.02
Still not convinced. If you could mount a rad in the front then I'd agree that it is better than the 690 II. Just think that making it a bit wider, offsetting a couple of holes in the roof - don't see what all the fuss is about. Its just another minimalist black box - it just looks a bit boring - there's no real wow. But that's just me, I like understated but this is just another bland plastic and steel black box...

18-06-2011, 14:37:28

Saltire35
The mesh on the top & front. How easy is it to remove? (so I could paint it)

19-06-2011, 04:15:23

Luger718
if it was me id only use one rad anyways...considering i have a gtx 560 @ 935mhz core and it doesnt go over 70C and i cant hear it at all....ill just get a 2x120x60mm rad and cool my 2600k so i can get it to 5GHz

plus i like the look or the fractal > the coolermaster

19-06-2011, 06:07:34

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheroo View Post

I'm still struggling as to why its the best mid tower wc case when the 690 will take 2 * 240 rads?
Because its 2x SLIM 240mm rads and you have to dismantle the case to be able to do it and even then its very tight on the PSU.

Need to remember Ive had a lot of experience with the 690 ie: Snow Drift...

For most people on a budget the Arc is a better chassis because of the 60mm rad support. Theres not another case like it on the market.

19-06-2011, 06:12:51

sheroo
So can you cool a gpu & cpu with a single 240 60mm rad?

19-06-2011, 06:21:21

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheroo View Post

So can you cool a gpu & cpu with a single 240 60mm rad?
If you watch the video youll say I say you cant really with hot kit. a single 240mm rad is just for CPU really.

I only watercooled both on Snow Drift because it was AMD and they dont kick out much heat, could NOT have done that rig with a 1366 CPU.

19-06-2011, 06:26:45

sheroo
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post

If you watch the video youll say I say you cant really with hot kit. a single 240mm rad is just for CPU really.

I only watercooled both on Snow Drift because it was AMD and they dont kick out much heat, could NOT have done that rig with a 1366 CPU.
Fair enough dude you're the wc expert. Still think they're missing a trick by not enabling you to fit a rad at the front. Have you ever thought about going into case design yourself?

19-06-2011, 06:28:53

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheroo View Post

Fair enough dude you're the wc expert. Still think they're missing a trick by not enabling you to fit a rad at the front. Have you ever thought about going into case design yourself?
No case is ever perfect. Why? Because everyone wants different things.

Case design no. Helping make a design better yes.

19-06-2011, 10:02:24

Alicarve
Good review and great case but i couldn't help but look at the white hoody at the end more lol

19-06-2011, 22:04:29

Luger718
tom is a case designer lol i can just picture the guys at nzxt and fractal watching his videos religiously lol

21-06-2011, 18:03:29

Calico
*Makes cup of tea*

*Begins watching Youtube video*

Been waiting to hear the TTL review on this

EDIT: Right, watched the vid.

How's the noise on this one in comparison to the R3? The R3 has a much thicker sound deadening foam from what I can see.. so I'm guessing its got better noise reduction?

22-06-2011, 00:37:15

Luger718
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calico View Post

*Makes cup of tea*

*Begins watching Youtube video*

Been waiting to hear the TTL review on this

EDIT: Right, watched the vid.

How's the noise on this one in comparison to the R3? The R3 has a much thicker sound deadening foam from what I can see.. so I'm guessing its got better noise reduction?
didnt even notice this one had any....id assume the r3 has more since its the "silent" case this one is more for budget air/watercooling

22-06-2011, 01:24:25

jonowee
Calico, just think of the Arc as an open case. Big mesh front and mesh roof, what ever internal component noise will pass through with ease. The R3 has the stated foam covered panels, padded ModuVents, a blank front door to keep noise in. But I would [edit] not call the Arc a budget case, it's almost the same price as the R3, so it's better to think of it as a wider, free breathing R3.

22-06-2011, 06:43:02

Calico
Thanks for the replies guys! I'm looking to build a air cooled rig, but want it to be quiet, so I think the R3 would be a good choice

22-06-2011, 07:02:37

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calico View Post

Thanks for the replies guys! I'm looking to build a air cooled rig, but want it to be quiet, so I think the R3 would be a good choice
R3 would be the correct choice in those circumstances

27-06-2011, 17:18:34

qwkslvr
so would it be possible to mount a rx240 rad on front (where the hard drive cages reside)?

19-07-2011, 17:33:34

murphy7801
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post

No case is ever perfect. Why? Because everyone wants different things.

Case design no. Helping make a design better yes.
Yer but this will take gold enermax fans so of course its perfectyou nothing more in life.

23-08-2011, 05:25:40

Tenu
Got mine coming soon

Eventually going to fit the 240mm XSPC kit in it.

I was just wondering though, because there's only 2 drive bays, and they're at the same level as the Rad would be; would the curve in the tubing from Rad to Pump/Res be too tight?

15-09-2011, 01:03:38

CocaCola
Definitely agree with Tom on the side panel. Wish they had made a cover for the fan area so if you didn't need that extra fan, it's covered up.

26-03-2012, 00:30:30

Omzig
Hello,

Do you think that I can get this all in the Arc?

CORSAIR H100 (CWCH100) in push/pull fan config

ASRock X79 Extreme6/GB ATX Intel Motherboard

CORSAIR DOMINATOR 32GB (4 x 8G 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 Desktop Memory, CMP32GX3M4X1600C10

Intel Core i7-3930K 3.2GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 2011 Six-Core Desktop Processor

I am unable to find the dimensions of the memory with the fins on it.

You do not give the dimensions of the room between the motherboard and the fan in the youtube video.

Thanks,

Omzig

26-03-2012, 11:52:13

airdeano
Quote:
Originally Posted by CocaCola View Post

Definitely agree with Tom on the side panel. Wish they had made a cover for the fan area so if you didn't need that extra fan, it's covered up.
they do, but it might be hard to secure. it is called ModuVent. acoustical tile to cover the fan area.

i'd bet if one was to contact fractal design they might let a couple go and start a part number to sell under.

airdeano

26-03-2012, 14:19:45

Jaanis
I have this case already for some time, veeerrryyy good for midtover case. watercooled my pc, and options for watercooling are fantasstic!

Recommend this product!
Reply
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