Testing - The Build Experience
|CPU||Intel Core i5-3570k|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Hyper 212
|Motherboard||ASUS P8Z77 V Pro|
|GPU||Gigabyte GeForce GTX 670|
|RAM||Kingston HyperX 8 GB DDR3 1600|
|Primary HDD (OS)||Kingston HyperX 3k 240GB SSD|
|PSU||Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1300W|
|Chassis||Fractal Design Define R4|
To better appreciate all of the space and builder-friendly features inside the Define R4, let's have a look at my old build inside a Cooler Master Centurion 5. As you can see, things certainly were cozy in there. A 280mm long Gigabyte GeForce GTX 670 graphics card was testing the limits of the Centurion 5's interior dimensions, and you can see a few ugly cables sticking out here and there. The drive capacity was also maxxed out. With the R4's larger size, I knew I would have no issue fitting my GPU and all of my hard drives given how spacious this mid tower is. The entire installation went incredibly smooth without a single problem. Installing all of the hard drives into their individual trays took the longest due to the fact that you need 4 screws per tray. At least now I have the peace of mind that my platter drives are guarded against vibration and the metal sleds themselves will probably never break. One thing to note about the 5-bay removable drive cage is that there are some screws that protrude into the top and bottom bays. These screws hold the rubber guides in place. If you were to try and insert a drive sled into these bays upside down (I sometimes do this to line up my PSU power cables), you may end up scratching the drive.
Installing a Blu-Ray drive in the front of the chassis also took a bit of extra time because of its need to be screwed in. However, one downside of tool-less 5.25" drive mounts is their tendency to hold onto the drive loosely. There is some benefit in having your optical drive firmly seated with screws so that it doesn't rattle every time you hit eject.
The front panel USB and audio cables were long enough for me to plug in and effectively hide the cable. Usually I have difficulty with the audio connector since motherboard manufacturers typically put the connector near the back of the power supply, so the longer cable made things significantly easier. As I already mentioned, there is ample room all around the motherboard area for routing cables into unseen areas and the space above the motherboard makes working with a 12V CPU connector less of a chore. I could actually reach into the space with two hands. It is always nice to be able to remove a potential rebuild step whenever possible, and there was no need for me to second guess and remove my heatsink just to plug in a cable. While the Define R4 does allow you to mount a 240mm radiator up top, the advertised 15mm clearance (for radiator thickness) seems a bit too close for comfort. To avoid any clearance issues, you may be better off playing it safe with a 120mm radiator mounted in the rear position.
I like to spend a lot of time on cable management, as I take pride in how my builds look when I am finished, plus better wire management = better airflow. There is a ton of room behind the back panel (about 1-inch) to stash unused power supply cables and the rubber-lined cutouts really help to keep things looking clean. The built in fan cables are also covered in a mesh braid, which matched my power supply cables and made everything look more uniform. Needless to say, the Define R4 managed to make my build look great, but I was really anxious to turn on my rig to see what kind of affect the sound-dampening foam and hydraulic bearing fans would have. I have been using this case for a little over a week now and have yet to hear it run. The fans are so quiet that even with the room completely silent, I still can't hear them churning away. The sound dampening bitumen foam on the sides and front of the case is extremely effective. The only real problem I have is with the power LED. Most blue LEDs are incredibly bright; this one is like the sun. When my computer goes to sleep every night the flashing light lights up my entire room, but the problem was easily solved by simply unplugging the power LED cable from my motherboard.