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Fractal Design Define R4 – Noise Levels

Good cool air flow will help control system noise by helping the component cooling fans work less hard. Balancing your system noise depends on your components and front enclosure fan placement. Here’s what we found out testing the stock enclosure.

At the highest position, cool air primarily hits the CPU cooler more than the VGA. At the lowest point, cool air better hits the VGA. That said, I found placing the fan at the bottom was the optimal position for quieting high performance components. The vents at the bottom allow warm air to rise quicker and out the back while being replaced with cool air which creates a nice wind tunnel effect. Adding a top fan actually hurt air flow revealing this to be best used for dual radiator liquid cooling systems instead.

Stock CPU coolers can typically be heard in most any enclosure, however, it could hardly be heard, whether idle or gaming, in this chassis. Any stock CPU cooler can of course just slightly be heard, but the Define R4 does a great job. This is thanks in part to the air flow as well. The Define R4 helps negate about 15 dB(A) of noise on the average but your results may vary with different parts selection.

Fractal Design’s Define R4 – Thermal Results

Now that we have the optimal case configuration, the test system was put through some benchmark loads to see how the Define R4 manages system temps compared to a generic mid-tower case. The fans were connected to the front panel 3-speed fan control to see how it effects performance. I allowed the system to run idle and load 60 minutes each because all computer enclosures kind of act like giant heat sinks since components like the motherboard and GPU transfer a little heat to the chassis. Keep in mind that these are sensor temps and not the internal component temp.

 

The performance table basically solidifies my preliminary performance estimations. The Phantom 410 is a pretty darn good enclosure when it comes to keeping things cool. But the Define R4 on the average ran a bit cooler and quite a bit quieter. The final proof of optimal air flow is that the system temps were pretty consistent with the side panel on or off.

Final Thoughts

Good air flow plus sound dampening make the Fractal Design Define R4 computer enclosure one of the quietest mid size tower enclosures available on the market. The air flow alone helps keep component noise down while the noise management Bitumen helps block quite a bit more of it too. With the right high performance components, the enclosure offers the potential of creating such a quiet system that you’ll find yourself double checking to make sure the system is powered.

The Fractal Design Define R4 is an extremely attractive and functional enclosure as well, available in jet black, gun metal and white. While the white contrasting parts make it stand out, it’s features like the HDD/SSD friendly trays, motherboard placement, removable tray drive bays, potential for extra cooling, innovative filtering, fan control, and extra wire management space that round off the enclosures impressive features.

The final test is value. Leading retailers like Newegg and NCIX offer the base Fractal Design Define R4 for $109.99 and $119.99 for the windowed model. When you consider features, quality and value,  it’s no wonder system integrators are stocking these cases by the pallet. After all, if their customers are happy, then so are they and what better way to help that relationship along than with a quality case for their custom system.

If you’re looking for an extremely clean, feature rich, conservative case design, the Fractal-Design Define R4 is my top recommendation and earns our very rare “Editors’ Choice Award”.

Pros

  • Very attractive, clean design and quality
  • Sound dampening Bitumen materials
  • Great stock optimal air flow
  • Three speed fan control for three fans
  • Innovative front filtering and fan system
  • All the right stock features
  • Very good overall value

Cons

  • Reusable Velcro or ties would be a nice touch

Overall Score: 9.0/10

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