Page 4 - Installation and Conclusion
The installation process is extremely straightforward with the Fractal Design Define R4. I am using this for my server build. For the most part, it is very easy to work with as far as a standard mid-tower is concerned. Out of preference, I installed my Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H motherboard first, followed by the rest of my components. However, it doesn't matter what you install first, since they will all work out just as well in the end.
Executing a good cabling job is also very easy on the Fractal Design Define R4. There are two large openings adjacent to the motherboard on the right, so choose your half. They are all appropriately placed for routing cables through, whether they are from your power supply or your hard drive, with proper rubber grommets for both looks and vibration dampening. As I have mentioned on the previous page, the rubber grommets are only clipped onto place, therefore they can really easily become loose during installation. Sometimes, getting them back in place can be a bit hard, especially for the one at the top. Other than that, a full height gap is situated between the motherboard tray and drive rack, just in case the integrated openings are not sufficient for whatever reason.
The rest of the installation process came and went just as smoothly, as I continued to install the rest of my components like the FSP AURUM CM Gold 650W. Unless you count thumbscrews as tool-free, installation of most components will require you to keep your screwdriver handy. This includes all add-on cards, as well as your optical drives. I don't have much beef against this though, since it is usually much more secure, and it is not like I will take my computer apart occasionally anyway. The Define R4 will give you no surprises.
Because Fractal Design bundled all the case I/O wires into one cable, hooking the stuff up to my motherboard is not only easier, but also a lot cleaner looking. The same goes with all the other cables. Pushing them through the large bottom opening adjacent to the motherboard and power supply delivers excellent accessibility to anything that requires a connection to my Z77X-UD3H. Meanwhile, hard disk installation is extremely simple as well; simply align it with the proper holes at the bottom of each drive tray, and attach four screws. The trays can accommodate both 2.5" and 3.5" drives, as discussed earlier in this review. After all the necessary screws are attached, slide it back into the rack, make the proper connections on the opposite side, and you are good to go.
After plugging in everything, our system configured inside the Fractal Design Define R4 is ready to roll. I hit the large power button at the top, and my computer came to life. Your finished system should resemble what I have above, since there is nothing much you can change here anyway, haha. Notably missing is the HDD LED. Can you tell which one is the Define R4, and which one is the Define R3?
On a scale from 0.0 to 10.0 where 0.0 is silent and 10.0 is the loudest, the stock Silent Series R2 fans would come in at 2.5 subjective sound rating at full blast. That's pretty darn good. Slowing them down will keep it at around 1.0 in my personal opinion. I am quite sensitive to perceived sound volume, and as a quiet PC enthusiast, the Fractal Design Define R4 is built to impress, bar none. The hydraulic bearing fans have a smooth running motor with no annoying noise during operation; combine that with thick insulation material simply keeps the noise in, and the heat out. I am also quite impressed at its ability to eliminate certain types of noise. While it doesn't magically cancel out noise made by very fast moving fans, the Fractal Design Define R4 does a fine job and keeping my already very quiet parts even quieter than before. The Define R4 is matchless in this regard. This is truly the case to choose for quiet PC enthusiasts who makes no compromise in power and performance. The fact they made it better than the Define R3 is a feat of its own.
The Fractal Design Define R4 is, in many ways, identical to its predecessor, the Define R3. The Fractal Design Define R4 is, also in many ways, distinguished from its predecessor. As I have mentioned in the beginning of this review, the devil is in the details. Actually, screw the devil -- the Fractal Design Define R4 is something clearly from heaven; pure and unadulterated. There is no devil inside. Simply put, this is one of the best cases I have ever used, period. Taking from every element that made the Define R3 one of the front runners in the industry, and making improvements upon areas that inhibited it from being the best, this case is an entire class of its own. By executing an entire new degree of manufacturing refinement above what is already refined beyond anything we have previously seen, the Fractal Design Define R4 is a hard one to make a case against; no pun intended. Heck, you can even get a windowed version now! What would I change? Well, let's get the reset button back behind the front door, and come on -- put an HDD activity LED in. The door should open both ways rather than one. The built-in fan controller switch feels a bit cheap for its class; a variable dial would be better. Other than that, I would really need to think hard to make more complaints. Many chassis manufacturers focus on the gimmicks, but not these guys. Fractal Design did almost everything right. The Define R4 could definitely use more features, but for now, thanks for raising the bar. While this is not the highest scoring product we have ever reviewed, this is the highest scoring chassis at APH Networks.
Fractal Design provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Recommended Award | APH Review Focus Summary:
9/10 means Excellent product with very minor drawbacks that does not affect the overall product.
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that aren't likely going to matter to the end user.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 8.5/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The Fractal Design Define R4 is a bargain in every respect. I would pay a lot more money for this kind of quality and refinement.
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1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion