Fractal Design Define R6 Blackout TG Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside

Anyone who has owned a case from Fractal Design's Define series will know exactly what to expect. Our particular unit is the Blackout TG version; other variants include Black, Black TG, Blackout, White, White TG, Gunmetal, and Gunmetal TG. TG stands for Tempered Glass, and the Blackout edition means there are no white accents inside. After many years and several generations of what we call the "fridge inspired" design here at APH Networks, the Define R6 stays true to its predecessors. For those who swear by exemplary clean looks combined with an intrinsic attention to detail and emphasis on silence, this is your mid-tower chassis. Measuring in at 233mm width, 465mm height, and 543mm depth, the Fractal Design Define R6's dimensions are about right for an ATX computer case. It is marginally larger than the Define R5; making it shorter but slightly deeper than the NZXT H700i. On the other hand, it tips the scales at 27.33 lbs, which is heavier than the Define R5 at 24.64 lbs and in the same ballpark as the Define R4. Fractal Design's Define series were never meant to be light. The reason for its increased weight is because quiet computer cases are built with more sound insulation materials and other miscellaneous items.

A 33% tinted full-sized tempered glass panel on the left side of the Define R6 Blackout TG provides a full, unobstructed view inside. It is quite a looker in my opinion. It is too bad the Fractal Design Define R6 Blackout TG does not have built-in RGB LEDs. I know I run my fair share of RGB jokes here at APH Networks, but one does not buy a chassis with a tempered glass panel and not light it up. That aside, the glass panel is attached to the main frame by its own frame via two thumbscrews at the back, clip at the front, and a ball and socket tab along the top and bottom near the front. This is not a traditional tempered glass panel design, but this mechanism works better in my opinion because the panel can be attached without screws. It is not as secure as the latch design in the Define R5 though. The rest of the chassis is made out of quality steel panels. Other than that, the right side panel is completely blank, which you will see in the next photo.

Opening the friction held shut front door reveals something that is becoming increasingly rare in 2018: A 5.25" optical drive bay. A few years ago, I would have called this the usual; funny now much has changed in the last little while. Like its predecessor, the direction the door swings can finally be changed. It swings clockwise out of the box, but you can easily configure it to hinge the other way instead. While it is true most of us rarely access optical drives anymore, flexibility in this area is always appreciated. Truth to be told, I think many of us place our computers on our right, so being able to change the door direction makes a lot of sense. I do not even have an optical drive installed in my latest build, but no one can say 'no' to options.

Moving on, from the top we have one 5.25" openings for an optical drive or other case accessories such as fan controllers. Of course, unless you are up to something sophisticated, it is probably not necessary, because the Define R6 already has a Nexus+ Smart Hub built in. While I will agree one external 5.25" drive bay is not a lot, this is made for those who still want to keep one optical drive around, so it should be sufficient for anyone who still wants one. Under it is a large removable dust filter that can be released by a tab at the top. Behind it are two Dynamic GP14 fans included from the factory, but you can swap it for three 120mm fans. The stock fan is black in color as we have the Blackout edition. Washable dust filters are placed in front of each and every included and optional intake fan, which is something I definitely appreciate. Last but not least, as shown in our photo above, a layer of sound absorbing material is installed behind the door, used to dampen the sound emitted from the front fans.

Rather than setting the front panel connectors behind the door, Fractal Design made a wise choice in putting them at the top of the Define R6, just like everything that came before it. The Define R6's layout configuration is identical to the Define R5. With its power button placed nice and center, the designers managed to create a level of symmetry in an asymmetric fashion. On the right side of the power button, we have two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. Both sets are clearly labeled. There is no USB 3.1 Type-C port; a kit needs to be purchased separately for this. On the left side of the power button, we have two 3.5mm audio jacks for headphone out and microphone in as well as a reset button. I think it was better to have the reset button behind the front door, but at least it is still hard to press accidentally. Surrounding the power button is a stylish white LED ring that dips down at the front for maximum visibility and aesthetic appeal. The power LED also doubles as a drive activity light by flashing to indicate drive activity.

Shifting our focus a little bit, there are elements that make the Fractal Design Define R6 quite unique. Traditionally, case designers install top mounted fans to efficiently draw heat away from the processor. This makes a lot of sense, since heat rises, so we are only adhering to the natural laws of physics. Unfortunately, this is a two-way street, as it is also very easy to get a lot of dust in the system that way when it is turned off. I am not a big fan of such a design, and I really dislike it when manufacturers force me to use that opening. Therefore, to rectify this problem, Fractal Design made a wise choice and gave the user an option to choose what they want. Want silence and no maintenance? Leave the ModuVent covers on. The cover is sound dampened. Want more airflow? Take off the steel cover, and you can install up to three 120mm or two 140mm fans in standard layout or three 140mm fans in the open layout. Of course, it can accommodate a radiator of equivalent size. The cover can be released by pressing a button at the back of the chassis. This can be convenient if you need to access its 25.4mm water cooling fillport. The latest design also has an angled plastic grille, shown in our photo above, in conjunction with a dust filter to keep the nasty stuff out. Another improvement is Fractal Design restricted the opening width to 140mm to reduce dust from entering your system. This is a considerable design improvement compared to the Define R5.

Painted black to match the rest of the chassis, the back of Fractal Design's Define R6 Blackout TG is pretty much standard for a case with a bottom mounted power supply bay. We can expectantly spot an included black colored Dynamic GP14 140mm fan placed adjacent to the motherboard I/O backplate. Normally, you will only get a 120mm fan here, but the fatness really pays off. The top ModuVent release button can be seen at the top left corner. Much to our surprise, there are no radiator pipe openings, but I think external water cooling systems are practically non-existent nowadays. Both side panels are secured down by two thumbscrews each. They are held on using a push to lock set of ball and socket joints as aforementioned, and swings out from the back. You technically do not even need to use the thumbscrews if you do not feel like it. This is particularly useful for those who need to remove this panel frequently, but it is not as secure as the latch design in the Define R5 as aforementioned. The ventilated plates enclosing the seven horizontal and two vertical expansion card slots are painted black shown in our photo above. The vertical expansion card slots can be used with the Vertical GPU Riser Kit to show off your graphics hardware.

Shiny legs with rubber bottom resembling those commonly found on home electronics can be seen on the Fractal Design Define R6. The legs provide the chassis about 2 cm rise over the surface it resides on. For those who want more fans in their systems, the bottom panel has room for up to two 120mm or 140mm fans or a radiator of equivalent size. The front handle of the washable fan filter for all the bottom intake fans can be seen in our photo above, which can be pulled out for easy cleaning.

Overall, the Fractal Design Define R6 Blackout TG ATX case continues to be one of the most solid cases I have seen with regards to build quality. All the panels fit together extremely well with minimal panel gaps -- in fact, it is pretty darn close to perfection in refinement. With that out of the way, nothing feels flimsy or cheap. Sharp edges are out of the question. The amount of attention to detail is very noticeable, and it is evolutionary improvement over all its predecessors. The Define R6 is heavier than the Define R5 and roughly the same weight as the Define R4, making it on the heavy side compared to other cases. Quality, features, and sound insulation material comes at a price though, and you will see why in the next page.

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