Review: Fractal Design Define R5 Blackout Edition

It’s been a while since we’ve had the opportunity to take a look at a PC case from Swedish manufacturer Fractal Design. But, in the two years since we reviewed the Fractal Design Arc XL PC Case, the company has continues to refine its range, introducing new and updated models catering for general desktop, home server, HTPC and gaming roles.

Today’s review subject, the Fractal Design Define R5 is one of the larger chassis in the company’s range – a typically understated design that focuses on silent running, extensive cooling support and a high degree of flexibility. A spacious case with room for up to eight 3.5″ hard drives, twin SSDs, large graphics cards and an assortment of cooling solutions, the Define R5 is ideally suited for use as a gaming PC or indeed as a high-capacity home/small business server that can easily upgraded over time.

Let’s run through the specs before we get hands-on with a build:

Features and Specifications

The Define R5 Blackout Edition differs from other R5 models mainly through aesthetics. Designed for a sleek, unobtrusive build, the model includes blacked out PCI slot covers, HDD trays and clips, SSD brackets, a white power LED and all black dynamic GP-14 fans. Covert operation is the order here.

OK, at 232 x 462 x 531mm (WxHxD) it’s no “ninja” chassis, but the generous internal capacity ensures full compatibility with ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX motherboards and almost guarantees decent airflow.

Like other models in the Define R5 range (as well as close competitors such as the excellent NZXT H440), the case is packed with dense sound-absorbing material to reduce noise output from internal fans. The R5 ships with two all-black Fractal Design Dynamic GP14 140mm fans which occupy two of the nine available fan positions on the R5. With significant cooling options (including space for water-cooled 420mm radiators in the top and 360mm up front) you may worry that the R5 could end up sounding like a hovercraft in operation. However, Fractal Design has equipped the model with their Moduvent fan slot covers which allow you to only open up those areas of the chassis that need fan exhausts. Otherwise, fan slows can remain covered, reducing noise output.

Obviously, powering nine fans will have you considering your motherboard options, but the Define R5 does include an integrated three-speed fan controller to take some of the burden away. It’s also equipped with front and bottom air intakes, with dust-free filters, that are easy to access from the front of the case.

Inside, you’ll find the Define R5 offers a range of features to support a tidy build. The hard drtive cage supports up to eight 3.5″ or 2.5″ hard drives, delivering extreme capacity with a range of flexible mounting positions. There’s also room for two tooless SSD mounts behind the motherboard. Depending on your motherboard selection, add onboard M.2 storage slots and you certainly won’t be short on storage options!

For old schoolers (or those wanting to rock a Blu-ray drive), there’s even an ODD cage which – thankfully – is removable is you wish to further enhance airflow around the case, tweak the hard drive cage location or make room for other components.

Overall, on paper, the Define R5 looks to be a very flexible case with a decent array of features and a lot of build flexibility to support a range of needs. Here’s a full rundown of the specifications:

  • ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX motherboard compatibility
  • 7 expansion slots
  • 2 – 5.25″ bays (removable)
  • 8 – 3.5″ HDD positions (can also accommodate 2.5″ units); 2 – 2.5″ dedicated SSD unit positions
  • 4 – ModuVent™ plates – three in the top and one in the side
  • 9 – fan positions (2 all-black Fractal Design Dynamic GP14 140mm fans included)
  • Filtered fan slots in the front and bottom
  • CPU coolers up to 180mm in height
  • ATX PSUs up to 190/170 mm with a bottom 120/140mm fan installed; when not using any bottom fan location longer PSUs up to 300mm can be used
  • Graphics cards up to 310 mm in length with the top HDD cage installed; with the top cage removed, graphics cards up to 440 mm in length may be installed
  • 20 – 35 mm of space for cable routing behind the motherboard plate
  • Velcro straps included for easy cable management
  • Front door can switch opening direction via dual mounting system
  • Left side panel features Quick Release System for easy access and provides a secure closure of side panel
  • Right side panel features smart captive thumbscrews so no thumbscrews are lost
  • Colours available: Black
  • Case dimensions (WxHxD): 232 x 451 x 521mm
  • Case dimensions – with feet/screws/protrusions: 232 x 462 x 531mm
  • Net weight: 10.7 kg
  • Package dimensions (WxHxD): 327 x 615 x 540mm
  • Package weight: 12.5 kg

Cooling system

  • Front: 2 – 120/140 mm fans (included is 1 all-black Fractal Design Dynamic GP14 fan, 1000 RPM speed)
  • Rear: 1 – 120/140 mm fan (included is 1 all-black Fractal Design Dynamic GP14 fan, 1000 RPM speed)
  • Top: 3 – 120/140 mm fan (not included)
  • Bottom: 2 – 120/140 mm fan (not included)
  • Side: 1 – 120/140 mm fan (not included)
  • Fan controller: 3 step fan controller for up to 3 fans
  • Dust filters: Bottom and front intakes

Water cooling compatibility

  • Front – 360, 280, 240, 140 and 120 mm radiators of all thicknesses (requires removal of drive bays)
  • Top – 420, 360, 280, 240, 140 and 120 mm radiators. (A thickness limitation of 55mm for both radiator + fan applies on 420, 280 and 140 mm radiators) (420 and 360 mm radiators require removal of the ODD bay)
  • Bottom – 120 or 240 mm radiator (Use of radiators in the bottom position limits the PSU length to 165 mm)
  • Rear – 120 or 140 mm radiator

Front interface

  • 2 USB 3.0 + 2 USB 2.0
  • Audio in/out
  • Power button with LED (white)
  • HDD activity LED (white)
  • Reset button

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