Just ANOTHER Refresh? Fractal Vector RS Case Review
Oh my God, we finally have a new Fractal Design enclosure! I really wanted something fresh from them since I love the Define R6 and Meshify C, but the Define S2 was a bit underwhelming and I’m anxious to see what they have come up with. I’m hoping the Vector RS will satisfy, but at first glance it’s quite obvious that the interior looks quite familiar, while the exterior is brand new.
Price & What’s New
Now price-wise you’re looking at $179 USD for the Tempered Glass and Dark Tempered Glass models, so that is pretty competitive if just slightly more than the Define R6 or the Define S2. Fractal Design are making the Vector RS a bit more of a premium offering compared to their own other series.
All right, the first thing I want to say is that the interior is identical to the Define R6, therefore make sure to watch our video to get acquainted with all the configurations that you can achieve by removing the hard drive cage and opening up the entire interior. The exterior is basically where all the changes and all the differences are between the Vector RS and the Define R6. The I/O has been relocated, but it features the same connectivity with two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.0 Gen2 Type-C port, audio jacks, and power/reset switches. The case feet are different, I initially thought they were aluminum, but they are actually just silver plastic. The side ventilation pattern has been redesigned to face down, this is to optimize for air flow and to minimize noise.
Obviously the whole exterior has been redesigned with added angles and patterns for both the top and the front panels. I do like the dual surface approach for the front and the top panels, specifically having metal and glass pieces so you can see your entire system and it kind of opens up the whole case a little bit more. It’s a cool pattern for this angular exterior, but it reminds me of the NZXT Phantom enclosure and somewhat of a Silverstone enclosure, so it’s kind of like hybrid between those two brands. It doesn’t necessarily feel to me like a Fractal Design release, but of course all the looks are subjective. I would love to hear how you feel about the appearance of the Vector RS. I personally don’t really like it, but that could be because of the size of the enclosure. It is absolutely massive, it’s like a Define R6 but with slightly expanded dimensions for both the front and the top because of the additional panels.
Unfortunately, the few negatives that come with the angular tempered glass top panel are dust accumulation, finger marks, and because it’s angled you can’t really put items on it because they will slide off. I will say that I do not like the height of the front panel and how it spans the entire height of the enclosure, because this means you cannot pick up the case by the front. You have to resort to other means or removing that front panel completely, which by the way you have to do in order to access the bottom dust filter. Now I love their tasteful approach to integrated ambient case lighting. It uses an ARGB connector, so you can connect it to your motherboard if you want to sync everything up or Fractal Design actually includes an awesome magnetic controller who’s buttons you can press to switch between colours and effects if you don’t have a compatible motherboard.
The Define R6 was all about modularity and being able to remove the entire hard drive cage area and in order open up the interior. That capability is also available here, but Fractal Design have stepped up their game by making sure that this whole modular approach is also transferred to the exterior. You can swap out the top tempered glass panel for a mesh panel. Basically, you remove the front panel, take off the glass top panel, install a fan bracket, install a dust filter, and then finally install a mesh panel up top. This is useful if you’re doing any sort of water cooling or just to increase your air flow options at the top. Obviously all the same fan mounts and radiator mounts from the R6 carry over, because once again it’s basically the same interior. In terms of fan and radiator options, this is one of the best cases since you’re able to mount like a 420mm radiator up top, a 360mm radiator at the front, and have everything kind of like work together without it being too compact or too large. Overall, for AIO or custom water cooling this thing is absolutely awesome.
Interior & Assembly
As for the interior, we have that hard drive area on the right side beside the motherboard area. Speaking of which, motherboard form factors up to E-ATX are supported. There is a ventilated power supply shroud, and when it comes to ventilation three 140mm fans are included, two for intake and one for exhaust spinning at 1000 RPM. These fans are connected via a 3-pin fan header so they are not PWM compatible. Looking behind the motherboard tray we have two additional SSD caddies and a fan hub that is PWM controlled or SATA powered. There are also six hard drive cages that are modular along the height of the entire side section. There are velcro straps beside all the main rubber grommets, and so many cable tie points that if you do a bad cable management job it really is your fault. There’s also a vertical dual slot GPU mount, but it is pretty close to the side panel so it’s probably good for water cooling only or for blower style graphics cards. By the way, the riser cable is optional, so you have to purchase that separately if you want to use that mounting option.
In terms of the assembly procedure, it is absolutely flawless, one of the best user experiences you can get in terms of building inside a case. I absolutely love that the audio cable has now been routed to the back and properly positioned where it will exit near the bottom left of the motherboard. The rubber grommets in particular are some of the best, it’s little things that make you feel like this is a premium enclosure. The manner in which they hide the 24-pin ATX power cable without showing anything that is behind it. If you’re one of those people that requires a whole stack of hard drives inside an enclosure the vector RS or the Define R6 is for you. There are six drive caddies available, and you can maneuver them to any height and also kind of open up the area a little bit to improve the airflow. While this is awesome for those who need it, it’s not for me, personally I’m all about SATA SSDs and M.2 SSDs so that whole right section is pretty wasteful and useless for my purposes. As for the cable management, I put in zero effort as you can see but the side panel closes just fine.
Temperatures & Acoustics
When it comes to temperatures, the results are a bit surprising because while the CPU temps were about average, the GPU was very toasty inside the Vector RS. Even when I opened the front panel completely there was a 7.5°C drop on the CPU, but not so much on the GPU side. Then when I installed the mesh top panel without the dust filter the temperatures actually increased for the GPU and dropped slightly for the CPU, so no matter what it seems like the GPU temperatures are pretty toasty inside the vector RS. It just doesn’t seem like there’s enough airflow in the bottom of the case, even after I lowered those two front fans to have a bit more directional airflow for the GPU. I’m assuming this case is targeted towards AIOs and custom loops since you can install massive radiators at the top and the front. As for the noise profile, this is a very quiet enclosure. Even when I installed the top mesh panel, it becomes slightly louder but it’s still totally manageable.
And for the conclusion, I want to say that my feelings about this exterior redesign changed slightly as soon as I turned on the system and saw this beautiful ambient LED strips that brings all the corners and angles of the design together. Without the LED strip the case looks kind of boring, and it’s a radical aesthetic departure from previous Fractal cases. Personally, it’s not a case for me since I would never use the many hard drive caddies beside the motherboard. However, if you are going the water cooling route all that space is available for extra radiators and fans in push-pull configurations. Having said that, if you’re not going with water cooling and you don’t need all the hard drive storage then you might as well get the Define S2 instead. I do appreciate Fractal Design taking the risk and doing something totally different on the exterior, because this is not what I would typically associate with that company. However, I’m guessing whether you love or hate this case will mostly come down to subjective preference, and I’m looking forward to hearing all of your thoughts and opinions.