Fractal Design Define R4 Review
Date: March 24, 2013
Product Name: Define R4
Part Number: FD-CA-DEF-R4-BL
Warranty: 1 Year
Fractal Design’s Define R4 is one of the few cases on the market which can be deemed iconic due to its design heritage and widely accepted feature set. It follows in the footsteps of previous R4 generations but updates several aspects for current expectations and updates hardware compatibility in order to better fit with today’s market. That isn’t to say that it adheres to an outdated mentality. Rather, when it was released, the Define R4 once again redefined to mid tower genre.
While the Define R4 may not be the newest case on the market, we just had to publish a review since many consider this to be a benchmark against which many other mid tower cases are measured. It uses Fractal’s tried and true exterior design methodology which features a basic, plain layout without unnecessary embellishments. More importantly, at just over $100, it represents a great value for anyone looking for a clean, modern and uncluttered design.
In such a cluttered mid-tower market, price counts for a lot and the $109 price of the Define R4 means that it competes against the likes of Corsair’s Carbide series and Cooler Master’s Storm gaming enclosures. Typically, that would signal disaster for Fractal’s entrant but it actually holds up quite well due to its focus on what matters rather than trying to appease too many potential suitors.
One of Fractal’s main focuses has always been to update and fix only what was necessary while ensuring the things people love remain intact. To this end, the R4 only departs minimally from the R3’s look by incorporating additional front ventilation, an eye catching brushed aluminum finish (other colors are available), a door which hides unsightly drive bays, an integrated 3-speed fan controller and a side mounted exhaust fan mount. There’s even USB 3.0 compatibility and highly stable feel that absorb vibrations quite well.
Noise dampening foam abounds with the front panel and side panels incorporating the thick material. This also gives the R4 a feeling of durability and solidity which isn’t normally associated with mid-priced cases.
The internal design has very much carried over from past Define generations but even here we see a number of small yet noteworthy changes. A stunning white / black color scheme is back for an encore presentation and is supplemented with plenty of wiring cut outs and cable routing options. Fractal has also incorporated radiator mounting options for anyone that wants to install a custom loop or an all in one unit.
Past the obvious changes, there are all of the usual inclusions. Toolless drive mounts, sleeved front panel connectors, removable HDD cages, 140mm exhaust fan and dust filters aplenty. But is this enough to ensure Fractal Design’s Define R4 meets the high standards set by its predecessors? Find out in our video review above.