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CaseFractal Design Define R4: review and testing 

If among motorists the phrase "Swedish quality" is associated with companies Saab, Scania and Volvo, the computer enthusiasts will remind the products of Fractal Design. Like many other European companies, it is difficult to deal with competition from Asian markets due to the large difference in the cost of production, so most of them have moved their industrial capacity in China, Thailand, Malaysia and other countries on the shores of the Indian and north-west Pacific. But the eminent manufacturers of the Old World, even after the "move" continue to take care of high quality products of a modern hard competitive environment to maintain its good name. In the case of an assortment of Fractal Design, this is contributed by the fact that the design and development of devices is still carried out in Sweden.

Fractal Design Define R4

In this review we want to introduce you to the case Fractal Design Define R4, which embodies not only Scandinavian quality but also strict and no less charismatic design. Novelty can house a motherboard in format ATX, microATX and Mini-ITX, graphics cards up to 430 mm and a lot of other useful components.

The specs


Fractal Design 


Define R4


Case dimension-type

Middle Tower

Motherboard form-factors

ATX / microATX / Mini-ITX


Pearl black
(arctic white and titanic gray are available)


2 х 5,25” (external)

8 х 3,5” / 2,5” (internal)

2 х 2,5” (internal)

Expansions card slots


Max length of graphics card

Installation in top basket

295 mm

Without top basket

430 mm

Max height of CPU cooler

170 mm

Max length of PSU

Installation at the bottom fan

170 mm

Without installer fan

270 mm

Area to put cables outside the system board

26 m


2 x USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0

2 х audio outputs (headphones, microphone)

Preset fans

Front panel

1 х 140-mm

Back panel

1 х 140-mm

Ability to install the fans

Front panel

2 х 140-mm / 2 х 120-mm

Top panel

2 х 140-mm / 2 х 120-m / some models 240-mm radiator of water cooling system

Side panel

1 х 140-mm / 1 х 120-mm

Back panel

1 х 140-mm / 1 х 120-mm

Bottom panel

1 х 140-mm / 1 х 120-mm

Preset fans



Fractal Design Silent Series R2 140mm



2 (on front and back panel)


140 х 140 х 25 mm

Rotation speed

1000 rpm

Noise level

18,5 dB

Air flow

112,2 m3/h (66 CFM)

Static pressure

0,84 mm H2O

Start voltage

<6 V

Rated voltage

12 V

Current strength

0,3 А

Power socket


Cable length

50±1 cm


149 g




Front panel



Chassis and side panels

Steel with thickness 0,83 mm

Case dimensions

523 х 232 х 464 mm

weight (net)

12,3 kg

Producer website

Fractal Design
Product page 

Package and content 

Fractal Design Define R4Fractal Design Define R4

The novelty comes in the traditional carton box. Here the manufacturer provides the exterior of the case, its internal structure, as well as the specification table. Using the information the buyer can examine in detail the design of new product and features.

Fractal Design Define R4

Fractal Design Define R4

Inside the box the case is well protected by two foam inserts and placed in a plastic bag for extra protection from moisture. The package also contains three brochures and a small box where the manufacturer carefully enumerated all the components inside.

Fractal Design Define R4

They are placed in separate plastic bags. So, in total the package of Design Define R4 consists of the following components:

  • 4 screws to install the PSU;
  • 9 screws and racks for mounting the motherboard;
  • mounting tool for the motherboard;
  • 32 screws to secure the 2.5-inch drives;
  • 8 screws with curly heads for the installation of a 5.25-inch bays;
  • 8 screws for hard drives;
  • 32 anti-vibration screws for hard drives;
  • 12 anti-vibration washers, gaskets;
  • 6 tie wire;
  • two brochures and instruction manual.

In general the package includes a plurality of screws for installation of various devices, as well as nice additions in the form of pads and cable holders. This will allow for mounting drives and other components. The only thing we would like to see here is a system speaker that allows you to detect a fault caused by a sound signal.


Fractal Design Define R4Fractal Design Define R4

Case Fractal Design Define R4 has a strict appearance. But it does not mean "boring". Quite the contrary - despite the minimalism, it attracts attention. Note that in addition to the black version of the model, you can find completely white and titanium gray, featuring lighter front panel.

Fractal Design Define R4

Familiar elements of the front panel are on top of it. Here are two audio jacks, power and reset buttons, two USB 3.0 interfaces and the same connector standard USB 2.0.

Fractal Design Define R4

There is also a moderate LED indicator. Depending on the preferences of the owner it can be used to inform the PC mode or as a display drive operation.

Fractal Design Define R4

Fractal Design Define R4

The front panel of Fractal Design Define R4 is a solid plastic door, well resisting fingerprints. It features two 5.25-inch devices and a lattice of size 305 x 155 mm.

The panel is attached to the metal frame via latches.

Fractal Design Define R4

On the back of the front panel there is sound-absorbing material (foam) - a pleasant and not only care of the manufacturer to reduce background noise.

Fractal Design Define R4Fractal Design Define R4

Two 5.25-inch bays are covered with comfortable plugs which can be easily removed and installed. To the right of them is visible switch voltage applied to the fan. It connects two preset fan, but it is also possible to attach another propeller. There are three modes of operation: 12 V, 7 V and 5 V. When using this component, make sure that you have a fan connected corresponding starting voltage. Preset same fans are working in all switch positions.

Fractal Design Define R4


Fractal Design Define R4

The lower grille in the front panel is mounted on top by two latches. Behind it you can find the removable synthetic dust filter. On the top there is one latch, allowing completely remove the front frame with the filter and fans.

Fractal Design Define R4

Here is preinstalled 140mm fan Fractal Design Silent Series R2 140mm, detailed specifications are provided in the table at the beginning of the specification of the material. Note the low starting voltage of the propeller, allowing to work in the mode 5 V. In this case, even at the maximum speed of 1000 rpm fan is very quiet (noise level of 18.5 dB), so that the two preset fans (another is similar on the rear panel) do not create significant background noise. But their location on opposite sides of the body and the high rate of air flow (112.2 m3/h or 66 CFM) theoretically allow to achieve a good cooling efficiency of the case. In the frame there is a spot for another 140-mm fan. If desired, instead of them you can put two 120-mm propellers. However, if in the first case the fans are attached with clips, the 120-mm solutions have already been secured with screws.

Fractal Design Define R4

The back side, as well as all metal body panels is covered with a black matt paint. Novelty has bottom location of the power supply, which is a standard layout for the modern case of medium and high price segments.

Fractal Design Define R4

On the back panel there are seven horizontal slots for expansion cards and one vertical, located nearby. With it, you can more effectively use the connectors on the system board. For example, between the two graphics cards you have the expansion slot in which you want to install a discrete sound card or a network card. Its presence is not desirable, since the board will prevent the access of air to the cooling system of the top video adapter. Therefore, it can be removed using the adapter and set vertically, where it will not interfere with other components and thus be able to properly perform its functions.

All covers for expansion slots, like the blades of complete fan and baskets for storage are white. Thanks to this design there is an original and eye-catching contrast, no spoiling the appearance of new item. Plugs are fixed with screws.

Fractal Design Define R4

Near the interface panel there is a place for 140 / 120mm fan, which was originally occupied by a preset 140-mm fan Fractal Design Silent Series R2 140mm.

Fractal Design Define R4

The bottom panel draws attention to a sufficiently large grill (295 x 140 mm) with a dust filter. There is also a sticker indicating the model and serial number, and closer to the front there is an inscription that informs about the country of origin, namely China .

Under the grate there are two perforated areas. The smaller zone has a size of 134 x 113 mm and is designed to capture the cool air of power supplies. But a large area (138 x 138 mm) has a square shape and can accommodate 140/120mm fan. However, in this case the length of the power supply will be limited to 170 mm mark, and in case of fan absence on the bottom panel, you can freely determine the unit up to 270 mm.

Fractal Design Define R4Fractal Design Define R4

The test model has two new types of legs: big in the front panel and more compact in the back of the chassis. Their height of 15 mm provides fresh air to the power supply. 

Fractal Design Define R4

On the top panel there are two seats for the 140/120-mm fan or radiator of water cooling system up to 280 mm.

Fractal Design Define R4Fractal Design Define R4

The right side wall is solid, but on the left there is a seat for a 140/120-mm fan. Note that all three color variations are also available with the case on the left side of the window panel but without the seat for the fan.

On each side of the front panel over the entire height the case has two elongated ventilation grilles with size 420 x 25 mm.

Internal device 

Fractal Design Define R4

Visually the entire interior of the body can be divided into two parts: the left for motherboard and power supply, and a right reserved for 5.25, 3.5 and 2.5-inch devices. Despite the impression the test solution can boast of enviable flexibility.

Fractal Design Define R4Fractal Design Define R4

For drives there are two baskets of drawers allowing to house 5 and 3 units, respectively. Trays are designed for screwless fastening of 3.5 inch drive or 2.5 inch fixing device using screws. We emphasize the original presence of gaskets to mitigate vibration generated by the hard drive in the process. In addition, another 12 similar gaskets are present in the package.

The upper basket can be removed, then the maximum length graphics cards will increase from 295 to 430 mm, but only if the video card takes one through five expansion slots. Otherwise it is necessary to dismantle a lower basket.

Fractal Design Define R4

Also, the upper basket can be installed rotated by 90°. Thus trays for storage will be used to direct air from the turntable directly to the motherboard. But the maximum length of a compatible video card will be reduced.

Fractal Design Define R4

In addition to the baskets, drives can also be placed behind the motherboard tray. However, here there is only room for two 2.5-inch drive. In addition, their installation should be carried out prior to installation of the system board and the cables must have straight connectors. You should not worry for the availability of space for cables, including for their hidden styling.

Fractal Design Define R4

Fractal Design Define R4

Fractal Design Define R4

The top panel we have already seen from the outside, but inside it looks even more interesting. Seats for turntables are covered with foam plastic plugs that not only prevent give dust get into the body, but also provide a sound-absorbing effect.

Fractal Design Define R4

Fractal Design Define R4

Do note that the location for the power supply unit is equipped with soothing elements: the contour of the hole on the rear panel and four points directly below the unit. As you can see, the manufacturer is properly taken care of eliminating unwanted vibrations in the places where they can actually occur.

Fractal Design Define R4

Fractal Design Define R4

Do not forget about sound absorption: on both walls, including a mounting location on the left there is a sound-insulating material. Side panels are easily removed and installed through the use of screws with curly heads and the presence of bumps for grip on the ends.

Fractal Design Define R4

Set of wires to connect the front panel includes a connector HD Audio, connectors to connect buttons on/reset, and LED-indicator, as well as cables for connecting ports USB 3.0 and USB 2.0.

Fractal Design Define R4

Additionally there are connectors for fan speed switch. Four-pin peripheral connector in this case is connected to the power supply, and the fans are connected to three-pin interfaces.

Fractal Design Define R4

The system in the case Fractal Design Define R4 has a pleasant appearance. 

Fractal Design Define R4

More productive system looks like a native: even the abundance of black components is in perfect harmony with white elements. Here is enough space for cooler, as supported by the model up to 170 mm.

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