Fractal Design R5 review

Fractal Design R5 review

The Fractal Design R5 is a silent, cleverly designed and affordable midi tower case. As the name suggests, it is the successor of the highly acclaimed R4 model, released in 2012. The R5 was released late last year (2014), and I’ve been using it since then.

A class act

The R5 has a lot going for it. Building on the success of the R4, it keeps the tradition of continuous refinement alive and well. I won’t go through all the improvements over the R4, as there are many, and if you’re sitting with an R4 already don’t despair; both are great cases.

The R5 has all the features you would expect from a top of the line case. It sports two removable dust filters, one in front behind the door which is easily released by pushing a tab, and the other underneath which pulls out the front, which is very convenient. Both left and right side panels are removable, and where the left one has a handy quick release function. Both are also covered with noise dampening material on the inside, which is a nice touch. It comes with two silent 140mm fans, which can be controlled with the three-speed fan controller located behind the front hatch. All HDD and ODD cages are removable and can be mounted in a few different configurations, for those looking to optimize airflow. Two SSD’s can also be mounted behind the motherboard plate.

There is a lot of room inside, allowing great freedom when installing components. For those extra long graphics cards, simply remove one of the drive cages. Taking of the back panel lets you cram a ridiculous amount of cables away hidden from view. There are also some velcro straps there to help you keeping things tidy. With a modular PSU, things almost feel too easy.

A neat feature of the front hatch is that it can be modified to open from both directions, which was a must for me. Unfortunately this makes the hatch slightly less convenient to use, due to the mechanical design of the hinges. You have to press dead center, or from the top and bottom to close it properly. On the other hand you rarely open it, as there’s nothing but the filter and the fan controller on the inside.

Minor shortcomings

The R5 is not a perfect case, though. While there is nothing majorly wrong with it, it does have some slight annoyances. For example, the power button can be pressed down at an angle which, more often than not, causes it to get stuck on its way up. I also get some kind of resonance noise from the bottom air filter which forces me to just push a bit on it until it stops. Usually it will start again in a few minutes and I have to repeat until it finally stops for good. This could of course be caused by some unique circumstance, but still, it happened to me.

During installation I also ran into some problems when putting the power supply (PSU) in place. The rubber vent where the cables are pulled through protrudes a few millimeters where the PSU aligns, which forces it to sit at an angle, which is horrible for a bunch of reasons. The solution I had to go with was to remove the rubber halfway so the PSU could be fitted properly. I didn’t want to remove it completely though, to keep the cables from chafing against the naked metal edge. It looks a bit funny, but it’s alright.

Other

There are three different colors to choose from; black, white and titanium. It also comes in a version with a windowed side panel, for those looking to show off their internals, on the sacrifice of noise dampening and with a slightly higher price tag.

Verdict

This case breathes quality from the moment you open the packaging. Aside from a few minor annoyances, there is not much wrong with it, nor much that it can’t do. This is the perfect all-round case, with an aesthetic look, a clever design allowing customization for every need, and a sweet price tag to boot. Looking at other reviews, this might very well be the case of the year. I would recommend this case to anyone.

Specs

  • ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX motherboard compatibility
  • Front interface: 2 USB 3.0 + 2 USB 2.0, audio in + out, power LED, HDD LED, reset button
  • 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 Fractal Design Dynamic GP14 140mm fans included)
  • 3 step fan speed controller, for up to 3 fans
  • Filtered fan slots in the front and bottom
  • Graphics cards up to 310 mm in length with HDD cage installed; graphics cards up to 440 mm without
  • 20-35 mm of space for cable routing behind the motherboard plate
  • Velcro straps for easy cable management
  • Front door can switch opening direction via dual mounting system
  • Left side panel features “Quick Release System” for quick and easy access
  • Colors: Black, Titanium (black case, titanium front panel), White
  • Dimensions with feet/screws/protrusions: 232 x 462 x 531mm
  • Weight: 11.2 kg

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