bit-tech.net

Fractal Design Define R2 - Follow Up

Posted on 25th Jan 2010 at 10:51 by Harry Butler with 31 comments

Harry Butler
Following our review of the Fractal Design Defne R2 case last week, we received a huge response from the community asking for some follow up testing with some extra 120mm fans installed.

This is something we usually try to avoid, as we believe a review should be an assessment of a product as you buy it, rather than what you can do it to it- otherwise we could simply argue that any case or CPU cooler will perform great as long as you slap in half a dozen noisy cooling fans.

However, this time the voices were so many that we've decided to make an exception and have rebuilt our test rig into the Define R2 one more time, this time with the addition of three Sharkoon Silent Eagle 120mm 1,000rpm fans. And the results can only be described as extraordinary.

We knew adding extra fans into a case will obviously improve cooling performance, but were amazed at the result of combining the R2 and the trio of superb Sharkoon silent eagles. At idle the GPU temperature from our passively cooled GPU dropped 8°C to a lowly 16°C above room temperature and under CPU load our 130W TDP test CPU dropped a healthy 3°C to a delta T of only 24°C - on par with the Antec 902!

Fractal Design Define R2 - Follow Up

Fractal Design Define R2 - Follow Up

Fractal Design Define R2 - Follow Up
Click to Enlarge - the improvements in performance are huge

It's the GPU temperature that benefits from the improved airflow the most through, with our passively cooled Radeon HD 3850 running an incredible 33°C cooler with the addition of the three 120mm fans around it. The resultant GPU load Delta T of just 29°C is simply awesome and isn't too far off the temperatures we recorded with an Antec 902 at full speed.

All this makes the Define R2 looks an even tastier proposition so long as you don't mind adding in the £30 cost of the three Sharkoon Silent Eagle 1,000 cooling fans. Even then, at a combined price of £110 a kitted out R2 not only remains impressive with its range of noise deadening and vibration reduction features, but can also keep your hardware as cool as the very best cases too.

However, the same could be argued for any decent modern case - strap enough high quality cooling fans to a system, even one with poor stock cooling and you're going to see temperatures drop by similar margins. While the results with the Define R2 are no doubt superb with the extra investment in cooing fans, we still feel reviewing cases as they come out of the box is the fairest way to judge their qualities.

31 Comments

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jim48509 25th January 2010, 12:23 Quote
Thank you for that. ;)

Fractal Define R2 here I come.
Picarro 25th January 2010, 12:26 Quote
Thanks for the review. This very well might be my next case. It's a bit more GF friendly than my Raven RV01 ;)
BLC 25th January 2010, 12:26 Quote
I thought that we might see results like this. Regardless of how well this case ventilated, either stock or with additional fans, I was sold the moment I saw it. That said, this is a stunning result.

What were the noise levels like with the extra Silent Eagles? I know that the fans used are quite quiet in their own right, but this rig had 5 case fans... This will be the more interesting result for me.
tripwired 25th January 2010, 13:19 Quote
bit-tech, you legends, thanks for taking the time to re-test!
tonyd223 25th January 2010, 13:54 Quote
thank you - it's now the hottest (see what I did there) candidate for my next case
xaser04 25th January 2010, 13:55 Quote
Thanks for the re-test Bit.
wuyanxu 25th January 2010, 14:16 Quote
amazing! many thanks!

if my case dies, this will be by next one! or Antec makes another one that doesn't look like crap.
Xir 25th January 2010, 14:19 Quote
Thank you.

Amazing result.
Cupboard 25th January 2010, 14:29 Quote
yay!
Was is still nice and quiet?
memeroot 25th January 2010, 15:59 Quote
Thanks for the re-test

This will be my next case also then.

Fractal designs owe you thanks for certain.

regarding the comments about any case having improved performance if you strap extra fans on it....

Should this case have come with the extra fans for many users it would have cost more for little benefit.

It is my view FD took the correct option and put the requisite holes and mounting points for those who would like improved cooling to have more cooling with little effort whilst keeping the base price (and noise levels) as low as possible.

The placement of fans as we have seen (raven were looking at you) has often been disasterous for other cases in these tests.

I think personaly this is just another way in which this case excells - perhaps finally a case that can satisfy everyone.

regardless It'll be a couple of months till my newbuild but at least one component is settled.
memeroot 25th January 2010, 16:05 Quote
btw - where were the fans located - from the review it sounds as if there were 4 free slots
okenobi 25th January 2010, 17:41 Quote
Thank you. Very much appreciated. If we could just get a subjective idea of how much louder it was (if at all)? Also, as above, where did you put the fans?

Thanks again!
Farfalho 25th January 2010, 18:16 Quote
Although we understand the objective behind testing the cases as they come, we all felt that case could do a little bit more and since almost isn't rich to do such a thing, it was easier for BT to re-test and throw in some results.

Thanks for it
C-Sniper 25th January 2010, 18:28 Quote
Thanks for the update Baz!

Also as others stated above, any noticeable difference in noise?

And while you're at it can you make us all breakfast? :p
xaser04 25th January 2010, 19:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by memeroot
btw - where were the fans located - from the review it sounds as if there were 4 free slots

The R2 has the following fan mounts:

2 x 120mm front
2 x 120mm (or 140mm) top (covered out of the box)
1 x 120mm back
1 x 120mm Side (covered out of the box)
1 x 120mm in the floor (next to the PSU)

I am assuming bit filled the back, top and possibly the side with fans.
Jenny_Y8S 25th January 2010, 19:51 Quote
Well done guys, thanks for listening to us out here.

I disagree though, while a "well it ran that hot out of the box" is an approach which I admire you for sticking to with such passion, I believe it is flawed.

You have lovely graphs for temperature, and we all know it's the killer stat that makes or breaks a case. So if a case manufacture put in some rotten old high CFM fans in their case they can (in theory) push them up the thermal graphs.

Yes, you'll comment on the noise and the el' cheapo fans, but the graph will still be around.

My second point is your choice of a passive GPU, how many readers or purchases of the cases in question will be using a passively cooled GPU? Let alone one in a case with so little airflow from the get-go.

I would love to see, BT do a two step review (Yes I know it'll take you longer - sorry - no pain no gain)

1) Review the case as it comes (just as you do)

2) Review the case as it could be (EG looking at a case and saying, that air-flow is pants, lets add in some more fans!)

Thanks again.
Rocket_Knight64 25th January 2010, 20:11 Quote
Fantastico! Thanks guys!

A very interesting result. I assume it was front and top slots that were used? Looks like the front drive cage, filters, baffling and door dont make a huge ammount of difference all told. More so considering the fans arnt the strongest around.

But now the question is just how much louder is it over say the 902? Opening those vents is bound to let some noise out.

I think this one off was well justified in that its offered nearly a unique oppertunity to see what kind of diference all these fans make. Personaly I would like Lian-Li to offer cases sans fans for a bit cheaper as I carry over my own anyway.

Maybe this is an article BT/CPC could expand in the future; the most db/temp efficent fan set up? Do you really need a truckload of deltas for a 4Ghz 920?


Off topic abit; I do admire that BT stick to thier guns about stuff and has a standardised testing procedure, but there is room for a little improvement. The board, cpu and hsf I have no problem with, but the passive gfx card is not really representative of the majority of setups. A 4870 with its toasty vrms would be a good bet (maybe even CF?).

Now the tricky issue of case fans... tested as sold is by far the simplest approach I agree, but I believe that you are testing the case and not the fans it happens to come with (although it should not be too hard to make a comment on thier apparent performance). But then its true that any case will do well temp wise when a bunch of fans are thrown at it. Ultimately its down to how much time the staff want to invest in every case they review... Ow, my head.
leslie 25th January 2010, 23:02 Quote
Woohoo!
Thank you Bit-Tech.

Pretty much as we all expected I think, I think I found my next case.
woodss 26th January 2010, 09:20 Quote
The question is, will it run crysis better?
Jack_Pepsi 26th January 2010, 13:09 Quote
Hmmm... this or the Panzerbox?

Oooooh.
1ad7 26th January 2010, 13:28 Quote
Bravo for responding this way. We really do appreciate the "feedback friendly" way you guys seem to do things. Its like you just know what we want... kinda creepy really.
Spreadie 26th January 2010, 23:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenny_Y8S
My second point is your choice of a passive GPU, how many readers or purchases of the cases in question will be using a passively cooled GPU? Let alone one in a case with so little airflow from the get-go.

I would love to see, BT do a two step review (Yes I know it'll take you longer - sorry - no pain no gain)

1) Review the case as it comes (just as you do)

2) Review the case as it could be (EG looking at a case and saying, that air-flow is pants, lets add in some more fans!)

I think Jenny makes a good point about the GPU cooler and the two step review - painful as it is for BT to implement.

I don't have a problem with the way cases are reviewed. For me, the important thing is the quality of the review and the depth of information delivered; pointing out fatal flaws or build quality issues and so on.

Quite rightly, others disagree, so I think it would be fair to review it, and score it as is, then add additional info on how it perfoms with fans added. But, that performance should have no impact on the original scores for value and performance etc.. because that score represents what the manufacturer supplies, at the list price.
stoff3r 27th January 2010, 00:59 Quote
Thanks Bit-tech, good work! You are right in arguing that these results may be true for every case out there. However, this one was kinda special with the "perfect" interior, and so many cooling slots and spot on price-tag. It will likely be the next build for many of us, or atleast me, if I don't win the lottery and goes for the Lian-Li x1000 or whatsitsname.
Muunsyr 31st January 2010, 03:06 Quote
More thanks from here too. Really appreciate the retest.
shah 2nd February 2010, 14:58 Quote
Thanks this was rele a great help and I am getting it for my next build.
kingred 4th February 2010, 12:35 Quote
you are idiots. bt is testing for the worst possible thermal situation, not your optimised ladyboy setups.


learn 2 science.
ZardozSpeaks 11th February 2010, 14:55 Quote
What's an "optimised ladyboy"? Does it involve some sort of package deal? ;)

Nice follow up to the case review, btw. Cheers.
fingerbob69 16th February 2010, 16:51 Quote
I gotta to agree with jenny and others. BT absolutely should carry on doing an 'out of the box/as it comes' review. But there also needs to be a 'here's what you could have won/see where the manufacturer skimpt' section.

It's a generalisation I know, but it seems most cases reviewed on BT seem to fall down on the cooling! But whether that is by design or by a lack of fans is never investigated. Now which is surely worth discovering as it must be the Manufacturers expect the consumer to fit extra fans because the type of consumers these cases are aimed at would do that.
Baz 16th February 2010, 16:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fingerbob69
I gotta to agree with jenny and others. BT absolutely should carry on doing an 'out of the box/as it comes' review. But there also needs to be a 'here's what you could have won/see where the manufacturer skimpt' section.

It's a generalisation I know, but it seems most cases reviewed on BT seem to fall down on the cooling! But whether that is by design or by a lack of fans is never investigated. Now which is surely worth discovering as it must be the Manufacturers expect the consumer to fit extra fans because the type of consumers these cases are aimed at would do that.

It's entirely down to design - the Antec 300 (which we've not actually reviewed online) is an absolute beast when it comes to thermals despite shipping with just 2 fans because airflow from the front is totally unobstructed by drive bay mounts. Conversely we've seen cases with similar exhaust setups but with a much more obscured intake perform much worse.

Similarly, big huge (240mm) fans are very effective (CM HAF, ATCS) thanks to decent static pressure and less onstructions allowing the direct airflow to penetrate further into the case.

Cover any case in fans and you'll get great performance - the trick is to do so with fewer fans, or in silence, which is a pretty tough ask.
majicmonk 18th February 2010, 02:17 Quote
All I want to know is whats the least I need to spend and on what components, in order to get a quality system which will fulfills all of the pre-requisites of what i'll be using the pc for and with the most current/near future software in said field.....which in my case is music production.

Is there a site that offers this sort of information for those of us that want to build a pc to cut out the cost of the retailer, without the need to become a current technology specialist and having to do weeks of research into manufactuers, chipsets, threading, qpi, stepping, etc etc, and how each one impacts the chosen task?

Regarding the article, how was noise performance after additional fans where added?


Thanks

Mik.
CustomPCMAX 25th February 2010, 20:53 Quote
Great to see you actually tested with extra case fans installed. I found it odd that the original review did not include that. I am aware that the case doesn't come with all the fan bays filled, but any mid-high range system would need them installed - for sure.
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