Manufacturer: Fractal Design
UK price (as reviewed): £169.99 (inc. VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $179.99 (exc. tax)
While it has long been known for understated, minimalist case design as a result of the Define Series’ success, even Fractal Design has been unable to withstand the tug of a market obsessed with RGB lighting – the Define S2 Vision made that quite clear. Continuing the trend of reskinning existing internal chassis layouts, the Vector RS is the first in a new family of cases, one which actually relies heavily on the insides of the popular Define R6. With three tempered glass sections on the outside and a strip of addressable RGB lighting running across the top and front, the Vector RS is effectively Fractal’s attempt to tailor the Define R6 to a different crowd without sacrificing its core design principals.
The Vector RS is a large and very well-built mid-tower case, although you’d expect so given the price tag is well north of £150. Steel and tempered glass are the order of the day, and even the internal structural parts of the front and roof panels that are hewn from plastic are very sturdy. These two areas both sport part-steel, part-tempered-glass fascias, with the two materials meeting to form edges along which the ARGB lighting strip runs uninterrupted. Meanwhile, the main side panel is a full tempered glass job and the opposite one is entirely steel. Put all this together and you have a case that leverages its divided aesthetic and turns into something rather elegant, at least in our opinion.
Recognising that the market is divided on the topic of whether or not to tint tempered glass, Fractal offers the Vector RS in two SKUs, one with a slight tint and a Dark version with a much darker one. The choice of tint will affect all three tempered glass sections – front, side, and roof.
The Vector RS is fitted with three of Fractal’s Dynamic X2 GP-14 140mm fans, two mounted as front intakes and one as a rear exhaust. Sadly, these are three-pin fans and not PWM-controllable, and they have a maximum rotational speed of 1,000 RPM, which is a little on the low side, but Fractal still reckons the case is up to the task of delivering sufficient airflow. Even though the front panel effectively blocks off airflow to the front fans, this is countered by vented sections down the sides that are described as ‘counter-angled’, meaning they are designed to reflect noise away from the user without limiting airflow.
There is ample room to increase the number of fans in the case, with two 140mm/120mm mounts on the floor, up to three in the roof, and a third potential mounting location in the front as well. To maximise the use of the roof for this, you’ll need to swap the tempered glass cover out for a ventilated steel one, a three-part apparatus that includes a fan/radiator bracket, a dust filter, and a top cover. The swap is easy to make, and the structure remains nice and rigid once it’s complete.
The location of the I/O ports means they’ll be easier to access with the case on the floor as opposed to on the desk, but either way it’s well-equipped, dishing out two USB 3.0 ports as well as a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C connector with fast-charge support. Fractal has opted for the more traditional method of splitting headphone/microphone duties into two dedicated jacks.
The front panel pulls off easily enough, and its weight is another indicator of the good build quality. It’s necessary to do this in order to swap the roof to the ventilated one, and you also need to do it to access the bottom dust filter, which is full-length and pulls out from the front. There are also removable filters built into the side vents of the front panel, so the Vector RS is fully shielded. Fractal also uses metal contacts instead of cables to connect the front and roof panels, allowing the LED strips to communicate without having wires getting in the way whenever you’re working with the case.
January 24 2020 | 12:00