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This review is from: Fractal Design Define R5 FD-CA-DEF-R5-BK Black Computer Case
Pros: Fractal Design has knocked one out of the park with this case. It is extremely quiet; quieter than the P183 and NZXT H2 that are its immediate predecessors in my lineup. The heavy foam is clearly doing its job, and the 140mm fans move reasonable amounts of air while still being whisper-quiet.
Assembly was simple. There are lots of cable management tie-downs, and the slots for them are large and plentiful. Rubber gaskets are included for all of the 8(!) 3.5" hard drive mounts, and the hard drive mounts can be converted for 2.5" SSDs by simply using a different set of screws. The tolerances are perfect; in all previous cases I've had to jimmy things a little bit to get either expansion cards or I/O lined up correctly. In this case, everything just worked without my worrying that I was torquing delicate electronics. By lining the HDD bays side to side, all of the 3.5" disk cables are routed to the back, where they aren't visible.
Airflow is good; with 2x140mm intake fans and 1x140mm exhaust fan running under motherboard control, running FurMark my GTX 970 tops out at 68C, and I still can't hear any noise beyond that of idle. Loading the CPU down as well results in a small increase in noise, but nothing worse than the H2's "medium" fan noise without being under load. Opening the front cover is all it takes to hear the difference the foam makes; noise goes up from near-silent to merely quiet. To give you some idea of the internal setup, I'm using an ASUS Strix GTX 970, an i5 4770, and no less than 4 spinning HDDs.
In appearance it's exactly what you see in the pictures; simple, refined, understated.
The reset switch is recessed, and so I doubt I'll accidentally end up hitting it (unlike the H2; I've hit that reset switch by accident one too many times while accessing the front panel USB). The large power button has a nice feel to it. The front panel USB and audio connectors are well separated from the power button as well.
All of the rubber grommets fit tightly to their holes, while are flexible enough that cables can easily pass through (unlike the H2, where the grommets were too flexible, and so every time I passed a cable through them, I would need to re-seat the grommet).
Extreme flexibility: you can basically turn this case into whatever you want. Move the disk bays back or remove them entirely; put fans on the top, bottom, front, and side, place a radiator on the top, bottom, or side, remove the 5.25" bays and shift the 3.5" up into their place...not that I intend to use any of that functionality. But it's there.
The dust filters on the front and bottom are both removable even if you have your case plopped into a corner somewhere. If you can open the front cover, you can remove both dust covers.
Cons: Nothing is perfect, though the R5 comes close. These are extremely minor issues that do not in any way detract from the phenomenal job Fractal Design has done.
The cable management holes at the top of the case are just a little too small to fit a CPU power cable; I had to remove the grommet to fit it through, then add the grommet back in. The fan controller switch is nearly invisible, and is behind the front cover for some reason. Not an issue for me, since I'm working under motherboard control. The blue LED isn't eye-searing (thankfully), but it is cliche, and bright enough to be irritating in a black room. I've covered it up, but I wish they would swap it out for something more diffuse and less obnoxious. The H2's gentle white lights were classier.
The front dust cover is a bit more of a pain to remove than I'd prefer. It's not terrible, it just isn't as easy as the P183's dust covers.
An integral box to put all of the extra screws would be nice, like what the P183 has (that said, I don't know where one could possibly fit without impacting the flexibility inherent in the design).
The case is heavy (but heavy sound-deadening foam is, well, heavy).
The only inexplicable choice is there is a pre-installed motherboard standoff that includes an integral peg. Trying to install the motherboard with it in place resulted in me scratching the underside of the motherboard slightly. It was easily removed and replaced with one of the normal motherboard standoffs they include and all was fine after that.
The front cover opens to something like 100 degrees; a bit less than I had expected.
Other Thoughts: This is hands-down the best-designed and quietest case I have ever bought. All of the airflow and assembly issues present in the p183 and H2 are complete non-issues in this design.
The only real issues are design choices, and so are tradeoffs. The case is considerably heavier than it might otherwise be due to the (extremely effective!) sound-deadening foam. The standoffs on the bottom of the case allow for better airflow to the PSU, but in turn make it more difficult to slide around on the ground due to the higher ground pressure.
Overall, I highly recommend this case to anyone trying to create a quiet PC. And if you don't believe me, check out SPCR.
Pros: The card performs as expected: namely, it's fast and will run anything you like at high detail levels. The built-in cooler keeps things at or below 80c without straining.
Cons: The reference GTX 670 cooler suffers from an unfortunate and annoying whine that is the loudest thing in my system; easily audible over 3 case fans, the CPU fan, and the power supply fan all packed inside a case with noise dampening foam. My much older GTX 260 does not suffer from this problem, and neither does any other component!
My first Galaxy GeForce GTX 670 was DOA (artifacts even while POSTing); I was able to exchange it for a working one, but if you notice any problems, don't wait to get them fixed.
Other Thoughts: The whine of the fan/shroud combo annoyed me enough that I bought an aftermarket VGA cooler to fix the problem. Given how painful it is to replace the cooler, I do not recommend this procedure unless you're already stuck with this card or one like it.
If you care at all about your machine's acoustics, purchase a different model of this card that does not use the reference nVidia cooling solution, or you will regret it. I certainly did.
This review is from: NZXT H2 H2-001-BK Black Steel / Plastic Classic Silent ATX Mid Tower Chassis
Pros: Lots of good features. The external HD dock is great, and the positioning of the front panel is perfect if the case is going on the floor. The built-in case fans are quiet, and the built-in fan header is a wonderful feature. It is, overall, a quiet case, exactly as intended. Much less garish than most enthusiast cases.
Cons: * Insufficient airflow that could be easily fixed by cutting larger holes in the door.
* Lots of thumbscrews, but all of them are too tight to tighten by hand.
* Fan filters, but the front panel filters are extremely difficult to remove, and the bottom filter for the power supply is removed from the rear, meaning I will likely never end up removing it.
* Gaskets around the largest cable management holes, but the gaskets fall off as soon as you try to insert a cable.
* Hard drive caddies are difficult enough to install properly that it took me 40 minutes to install 3 hard drives.
* Not enough cable tie-down points on the motherboard tray.
* Difficult to differentiate between the power and reset switches, and the placement worries me that I'll hit one of them while futzing with the front panel.
* The front door only opens 90 degrees.
* Angular design is not quite as sleek and refined as other cases going for the same market.
Other Thoughts: With some revisions, this could be a great case. As it stands now however, I would give it a pass for a more build-friendly case with similar noise characteristics, even though it means losing out on its unique features.
If you're looking to put a high TDP rig in this case, it will be quiet while idle, but noisy under load as the internal fans spin up to compensate for the poor airflow. In my case, that's with an 80 watt TDP CPU and 170 watt TDP video card. Supposedly an easy mod that improves the airflow is to cut a larger hole in the bottom of the door, but I have not yet attempted that.
If you're looking to go SLI in a quiet case...look somewhere else.