Fractal Designs R4 Review

Fractal Designs R4 Review

Fractal R4 Review  


The R3 was a firm favorite here with all members of the OC3D team, and was at the centre of quite a bit of controversy at one point in time. We are sure we don't need to go into any detail, if you don't know what we are on about you missed out! As with many things in life, cars, graphics cards, women, girl friends, wife? There is a new model in town that is crying out for your attention! Please welcome to the stage the Fractal R4, its now time for OC3D to peel back her layers and see if the package tastes as sweet as her older sister. Ok enough innuendos this isn't a 50 shades book!



Motherboard compatibilityATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Front interface2 - USB 3.0, 2 - USB 2.0
Audio in/out
Power button with LED (blue)
Reset button
Fan controller (behind door)
Drive bay capacity2 - 5.25” bays
8 - 3.5” HDD trays - all compatible with SSDs
2 - 2.5” extra SSD positions
Expansion slots7 + 1
PSU compatibilityATX PSUs up to 170 mm deep when using the bottom fan location;
when not using this fan location longer PSUs (up to 270 mm deep) can be used 
Graphics card compatibilityGraphics cards up to 295mm in length with the top HDD cage installed
With the top cage removed, graphics cards up to 430mm in length may be installed
Cooling / Ventilation3 - ModuVent™ plates – two in the top and one in the side
7 - Fan positions (2 fans included)
Filtered fan slots in front and bottom
CPU cooler compatibilityCPU coolers up to 170 mm tall (when no fan is installed in the side panel)
Additional information26 mm of space for cable routing behind the motherboard plate
Thick rubber grommets on all holes on the motherboard plate
Colours available / SKUPearl Black / FD-CA-DEF-R4-BL
Titanium Grey / FD-CA-DEF-R4-TI
Arctic White / FD-CA-DEF-R4-WH
Case dimensions (WxHxD) (mm)232 x 464 x 523
Net weight (kg)12.3
Package contentsDefine R4 computer case
User manual
Accessory box
Front1 - hydraulic bearing 140mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed (included)
1 - 120/140mm fan 
Rear1 - hydraulic bearing 140mm Silent Series R2 fan, 1000 RPM speed (included)
Top2 - 120/140mm fans - positions also support 240/280mm radiators
Bottom1 - 120/140mm fan
Side1 - 140mm fan
Fan controller1 - integrated fan controller for up to 3 fans (included)

Video Review



So where to start, the R4 keeps to the same family heritage as the R3 now this is definately a good thing but at the same time we think they could have been slightly braver considering this is an all new case. Its just the design is so similar to the older version youd be fooled into thinking its just some subtle tweaks to the original design.

The new model is wider and slightly taller than the older version, the extra girth gives you extra cable management room behind the motherboard tray and also a 140mm fan at the back end of the case too. The 140mm fan comes hand in hand with extra room in the business side of the case which allows you to fit much larger CPU heatsinks, saying that the NH-D14 fit in the R3 albeit a little on the snug side. Talking of CPU heatsinks as a general rule of thumb we would say this case does NOT support the H100, in some remote cases you may get it in around your kit but for 99% of you we would say its a no no.

The main updates on the R4 are the removeable hard drive bay at the front of the case, yes this does allow massive GPU's to be fitted but seeing as a 7970 fits in there fine anyways we would say the main point of this is increased airflow to the cards. The HDD bay can be rotated but due to the direction the HDD's would have to be fitted and removed we honestly see this as being unusable/completely pointless so we'll just ignore it.

The other main upgrade is the ability to now use 140mm fans in the front of the case, should you already have a set of 120mm fans though dont stress as both sizes are supported. Another nice touch is the built in fan controller behind the front door, with 12v, 7, and 5V options and the ability to connect up to 3 fans natively is a great step forward from the old PCI slot style fan controller that was bundled with the R3.

Those purists will be hapy to find out the best features of the R3 are all still here, bitumen lined doors that have the cloth coating for that extra quality touch, the optional fan mounts in the roof and door also still have the blanking plates covering them that also have the thick foam sound deadening on them too and they also still have the cloth tops. 

All in all the R4 is a brilliant case for £80, just like the R3 is best suited to those of you looking for a very quiet or even silent case to base your system in. The thing is with the ability to now remove that HDD bay it could also be a great choice for those of you looking for a subtle case to base your performance rig in. Only time will tell if the R4 is as popular as its older sister or will create as much controversy but for now we think she is gold award worthy and we look forward to seeing what the future holds when you all get to show what you can do with her too!


Thanks to Fractal for the R4 on test here today, you can discuss your thoughts on this review in the OC3D Forums.

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Most Recent Comments

20-07-2012, 06:24:36


The replacement for the ever popular R3 has finally been released. But will the R4 be as good in our eyes as its older brother?

Continue ReadingQuote

20-07-2012, 06:27:55

Tissues at the ready lolQuote

20-07-2012, 06:34:21

Josh Weston
Two months after I buy the R3...$£%*&!!!Quote

20-07-2012, 06:53:36

and to think tomorrow i was going to purchase a R3, haven't heard a release date yet so think i may have to waitQuote

20-07-2012, 07:20:17

They have basically taken the Midi, slapped a door on it and added some noise dampening material but removed the best feature of the Midi - THE FAN HOLE LOCATIONS.

If they had placed them offset like the Midi then you could fit a H100 and other rads and I would have bought one.Quote

20-07-2012, 07:26:31

Originally Posted by Yeren View Post
and to think tomorrow i was going to purchase a R3, haven't heard a release date yet so think i may have to wait
Same here, i too was about to purchase a r3, i think I'll wait for a white r4 Quote

20-07-2012, 10:56:12

My views after watching Toms review:

Silence - Buy the R4
Gaming - Buy the Arc Midi

I really think if they made the R4 slightly higher and fan mounts to accommodate a 240 radiator or a H100 they'd have nailed it.

I also find it a bit weird just weeks after announcing an optional window panel for the R3 they then release the R4... and its obvious from the review that the window panel for the R3 won't fit on the R4

What really baffles me is though... Fractal Design have no intention of releasing a window panel for the Arc Midi, which is basically designed for gaming yet they released a window panel for the R3 which is designed for silence. That doesn't make sense to me.Quote

20-07-2012, 11:02:40


20-07-2012, 12:03:51

im kind of a Fractal Design fanboy. and this was a good case, but not the cutting edge case it
could have been. with R3 sales, i'm sure it was a high demand case, as when the shelves
were thining, customers were fearing discontinuation. i'd thought Fractal would have turned
the volume up on features a bit more. Fractal taughts a host of features (fan control,
upgraded 140mm fans [R2], wider, SSD mounts on mobo tray and front filter bay enhancement.

MEAH... at best. the R3 was a great case and this follows the mold, but not making forward
progress in design. doesn't make me wanna buy the R4, today.

to buy the R4.5 or R5 i'd want it to be taller (500mm+), water cooling compatible,
4 USB 3.0 (with 2.0 pigtails) and convertible opti bay to use that area for HDD inline with
the other cages and fix that friggin' door to open WIDER or hinge at the bottom or reversable!
just let me access the fan area easier. make the front fan cartrige less clumbsy and more
adaptable than the clip-on fan clips (that break) use fan attachment bosses (brass
preferably) for more fan selection (140mm fan market is not as selectable as the 120mm
are at this time). just make thin metal brackets to attach to the back of mobo to secure
the SSD drives, they dont weigh any amount of mass to worry about ripping away from
the tray (optional placement). and please, please stop making the public cry for a
windowed-side panel. state it on release that a panel will be available, PERIOD! instead
of waiting for public opinion to scream for it (the XL got one...).
get it close to this and my dollars will be your dollars Fractal Design. till then i'll stay with
my Arc Midi (R4 without a door).Quote

20-07-2012, 14:54:46

This was just posted on another forum by a member:

20-07-2012, 15:02:40

Originally Posted by VulgarDisplay88 View Post
This was just posted on another forum by a member:
Quite like how she said 'this was not picked up on by people' as if people always think: 'oooh, I wonder if the bottom screw holes of the hard drive cage are exactly the same size as a 120mm fan...'

Not exactly gunna guess it unless you're explicitly told are you. Surely that's an even worse design though as they're trying to show off watercooling support with a 'slim 240mm' radiator. I'm guessing by the hinged door thats the max you can have with or without the hard drive cage thereQuote

20-07-2012, 15:30:56

And also in the comments of the video link posted above, it was said by Fractal that there are 15mm spacings at the top fan mounts.

But I wonder now if the H100 tubes are long enough to reach from that front mount.Quote

20-07-2012, 15:44:42

H100 wont fit the front.......Quote

20-07-2012, 17:17:36

or you install a giant radiator and dump the hard drives... Even though this case is so great, it's just not good enough after the R3.. Hope the R5 will nail it Quote

20-07-2012, 19:58:38

They need to get rid of the hard drive cages. Pillars like in the LL PC-90 or a "shelf" like in the Mac Pro take up less space and have better airflow. Of course, engineers/nerds tend to be closet authoritarians and think "different" is "wrong," so these silly hard drive cages persist...Quote

20-07-2012, 22:09:44

Originally Posted by jamdox View Post
They need to get rid of the hard drive cages. Pillars like in the LL PC-90 or a "shelf" like in the Mac Pro take up less space and have better airflow. Of course, engineers/nerds tend to be closet authoritarians and think "different" is "wrong," so these silly hard drive cages persist...
as soon as they rid the world of hard drives, i think that can be accomplished. but
till then the cages are gunna be around. windowed versions will be kinda bland.


22-07-2012, 21:45:29

Simple. SSD mounts that you do not have to screw in before you install the motherboard.
Love the location but hate the mounts on the back of the CPU tray. Some kind of easy to use mounts would vastly improve the case.
Now if you can put in 120x2 or 140x2 rad in the front, SSDs and maybe a bay mounted pump reservoir you could do a water cooled case.
I think this would case as is would be good for.
Home server.
Air cooled gaming rig.
An a high end office PC
Audio workstation.
And if you put say an i7 or Xeon with a Quadro or FirePro card and you would have a good workstation for CAD, Video, or 3d work.Quote

23-07-2012, 03:28:13

For SSD mounting, I'd just use my Silverstone SSD bracket, saves me from removing the motherboard if SSD needs to be taken out Quote

04-08-2012, 10:17:24

What is the maximum depth of a 'slim radiator' that will fit in the front mount?Quote

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