The side panels slide from the main chassis with a firm tug, revealing the great looking black painted interior that’s complimented by the clean white of both the included 120mm fans (one rear exhaust and one front intake), the eight removable hard drive trays and the expansion slot covers.
Like most modern cases, the Define R2 has the PSU mounted in the bottom rear of the case to help lower the centre of gravity and remove the PSU from the rest of the case’s cooling loop. Fractal Design have done a particularly good job though, with rubber standoffs to raise the PSU slightly above the case’s floor and foam around the rear access to help deaden any vibrations. There’s also an easily removable tool-less dust filter on the case’s exterior beneath the PSU’s ventilation to ensure your PSU won’t get filled with dust and detritus from beneath your PC and the four chrome effect feet on the base provide a good inch of clearance that ensures reliable airflow.
The main hardware compartment is spacious enough to make fitting an ATX motherboard a simple matter, and there’s the now nearly ubiquitous motherboard tray cut-out to allow easy access to the backside of your CPU for fitting back plate mounted coolers. The motherboard tray also features five well placed cable routing holes all around the motherboard, and there’s plenty of room behind to rout and tidy all but the 24-pin motherboard power cable. The securely fitted routing hole covers are a nice touch too.
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Fractal Design has taken a slightly off the wall approach to the Define R2’s drive bays, eschewing multiple 5.25” drives for a whopping eight 3.5”/2.5” hard disk drive bays comprised of easily removed mounting trays. Again, these are more than a nod to the mounting trays of past Antec cases (these being identical to those of the Antec P160), but again, it’s no bad thing. The drive trays are all fitted with silicon grommets which do a great job of reducing drive vibration and the drive rack has been designed to offer plenty of space behind for routing power and data cables to your drives.
As for the 5.25” drive bays, the Define R2 packs a meagre two, with one pre-fitted with an external 3.5” adapter. If you’re aiming for a server then, this case could not be more perfect. Realistically though, few of us require more than a single 5.25” drive bay for an optical drive these days, and the offer of a huge array of 3.5”/2.5” drives is certainly preferable in our eyes.
It’s not just foam and rubber mounts that have been employed to cut noise from the Define R2 though, with Fractal Design going so far as to clad the inside of the right hand side panel is sound deadening bitumen. More commonly used to tar your roof, bitumen is used in a number of appliances for its sound deadening and vibration absorbing qualities, and that’s obviously the objective here too, with a large plate of it stuck to the otherwise painted steel side panel. It looks a bit untidy, but it’s on the inside of a case panel so who cares?
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The same bitumen plating is used on the interior of the three removable ventilation covers, and while we’re not sure how much of a noise dampening effect it will have, considering the majority of the case’s interior is bare painted steel, it’s certainly a novel idea for a manufacturer to fit dampening plates out of the box.
While the Define R2 packs a lot of noise reduction features, we’re a little worried by the somewhat limited stock cooling though. While the twin 120mm fans are both of very high quality with well-balanced bearings, they are optimised for silence, not airflow, and spin at a modest 900rpm. While this produces something along the lines of the claimed, very low “15dBa” of noise, the resultant 38.3CFM might not be enough to keep our test rig cool in comparison to the competition.