Fractal Design Define R5 Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Physical Look - Inside

Consistent with its exterior, the interior of the Fractal Design Define R5 is also well furnished with all surfaces painted matte black. To further accentuate its color scheme, the back expansion slot covers and hard drive trays were painted white, as shown in our photo above. If you are familiar with the Define R3 and Define R4, the interior is very similar in essence. The conventional layout has the power supply mounted at the bottom, eight hard drive trays are present to the right, two externally accessible 5.25" drive bay on top, with the rest of the room allocated for the motherboard. Generally speaking, everything is quite traditional as far as ATX computer cases are concerned. The tagline for this, of course, is "evolutionary, not revolutionary".

The Define R5 is able to accommodate mITX, mATX, and ATX motherboards. The riser mounting holes are labeled for users who are not familiar with building their own computers. One 140mm pre-installed rear exhaust fan is situated around the CPU socket area of a standard ATX motherboard. The stock fan is a 1000 rpm Dynamic GP14 from Fractal Design, and features a 3-pin motherboard header. Two more fans, sized up to 140mm, can be installed at the top of the case. If you want to install a third fan, simply remove the 5.25" drive tray rack. As mentioned on the previous page, both upper vents are sealed off by default by what Fractal Design calls the ModuVent. Normally, putting noise insulating foam here may cause undesirably high temperatures. Fortunately, according to our tests, the soundproofing material has little detrimental effect to the case's cooling performance. Additionally, because the covers are completely flat, it makes a lot of aerodynamic sense -- low airflow impedance. My only complaint, as already discussed, is the openings here are way too large.

As shown in our photo above, we can also spot a large rectangular opening on the motherboard tray for easy aftermarket heatsink backplate installation without removing the motherboard itself from the chassis. The opening is actually large enough to accommodate pretty much anything. I mean, with something this big, unless you have some wacko motherboard, it is hard not to get it right. The perimeter of the opening is not lined with rubber, but the edges are well rounded off, so you do not need to worry about your cables being stripped accidentally.

Because the Fractal Design Define R5 features a bottom mounted power supply bay, the chassis platform is raised about a centimeter off the ground to accommodate units with fans at the bottom. Inside the Define R5, metal bumps with foam toppings at the top elevates the power supply up a further half centimeter, just to ensure enough air is made available to your PSU. A thin layer of foam further dampens any vibrations caused by your power supply against your chassis back panel. The honeycomb grille has an externally removable dust filter pre-installed, so you will not need to worry about nasty stuff clogging your fans down the road. A large opening for routing your PSU cables is appropriately placed adjacent to the expected location of your power supply, as shown in our photo above. As always, a rubber grommet is present to keep everything looking neat and tidy.

One bottom 120mm or 140mm fan can be installed into the Define R5. Should you need more, you can remove the bottom 3.5" drive rack to accommodate one more 120mm or 140mm fan. With no bottom fans installed, Fractal Design claims the Define R5 can take power supplies up to 300mm long. Of course, this is just a trivial fact, because I do not believe something of such a size exists in the world, haha.

The Fractal Design Define R5 is composed of three independent racks for all your drives, which can be removed independent of each other, depending on your needs. For example, if you want to install an extra long video card, you can remove the center rack. If you want to add a fan at the top or bottom, you can remove the optical drive rack and lower HDD rack, respectively. If you just want better airflow, you can take them all out, and only use the two 2.5" SSD bays behind the motherboard tray. How is that for some flexibility?

Here is the question of the day: In its default configuration, the Fractal Design Define R5 features eight 3.5" drive trays. How many 3.5" drives can be installed at any given time? Eight? Correct! With that in mind, how many 2.5" drives can be installed at any given time? Good news -- it is also eight. Each removable drive tray is placed in perpendicular orientation to the chassis, with the connectors facing the back of the system. There are two hard drive racks, as you can see in our photo above. Each drive tray can accommodate both 2.5" and 3.5" drives (Not simultaneously, obviously) out of the box, and that is excellent. I have seen cases where it can only take one or two 2.5" drive, but all of the computers I have here around APH Networks have several SSDs -- how times have changed. Fortunately, Fractal Design makes sure all your bases are covered with the Define R5. The drive trays have also been redesigned for better airflow.

A 3-pin 140mm fan draws cool air over the hard drives and into the system from the front. Out of the box, the fan is installed in the upper position, but you can relocate it one slot down, or put an extra one in at the bottom. I think it is better to have the fan in the lower position, but either way works. The longest video card you can fit in the Define R5 is 17.3" with the hard drive rack removed. Obviously, no graphics card is that long, so with the HDD rack present, you can have components measuring in at 12.2".

Two 5.25" externally accessible drive bays are present on the Define R5. As we have discussed on the previous page, I do not recall myself using more than two of these bays at a time, so despite the fact this case does not come with a whole lot of expansion slots in this area, it is not likely to affect a lot of users.

Here is a look at other side, where most people do not usually pay attention to. In my opinion, the back of the motherboard tray is quite fundamental to good cabling. This is especially held true with the Fractal Design Define R5, since it is normal practice to cables through this section. With the latest iteration, the company kept gap wide; the amount of room between the side panel and motherboard tray is a generous 20mm to 35mm. Users will not experience problems if you own a power supply with very thick cables. There is even room here for two SSD installations. Also new to the latest revision is an integrated cabling guide; three Velcro straps allow for easy organization in this area. Other than that, lots of openings can be found so you can fish your cables through, and they are large and wide to carry everything you need. Rubber grommets are found at all openings, which is a very nice touch. I have actually had cases in the past where cables started rattling against the metal panels, and trust me -- that could be annoying. The rubber grommets are clipped on pretty well, but if you rip your cables through these holes during your build, they may become loose, although it is not a significant problem.

Before we close off this section, there are just two more things I want to talk about. Firstly, the Define R5's I/O connector cables are top notch, as we have expected from the company. While most chassis manufacturers provide a bunch of colorful wires that looks like it came straight from an electronics lab, Fractal Design took the effort to actually bundle them up into nice black cables. Secondly, as you can kind of see in some of our photos above, a big layer of fabric coated sound insulation material is placed over this side panel for improved acoustic properties. The same goes for the one on the reciprocal side. Because they are so thin, it occupies little physical space; and knowing they are generally flat, it will not affect airflow inside the case. With all this in mind, it is clear why the Fractal Design Define R5 tips the scales at almost 25 lbs. Dust filters in every opening. Sound proofing material on every panel. No corners cut anywhere. There is so much that went into the build of this chassis, and it is just as good, if not slightly better, than the Define R4.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion