Fractal Pop Air Review
Conclusion - Is Fractal's Air Pop worth it?
Published: 29th June 2022 | Source: OC3D Internal Testing | Price: |
We were hoping for great things from Fractal's Pop Air. Maybe we were wrong to do this, but Fractal's Torrent sets a high expectation. We though that Fractal's design teams were at the start of a winning streak, but the Pop Air has proven that they aren't. Sorry Fractal.
Following on from the Fractal Torrent with an airflow-oriented design that's reminiscent of NZXT's H510 Flow was something that we believed would be a formula for success. Add on RGB and a wide range of colour options, and the Fractal Pop Air appeared to be something that would be appealing to a broad section of the PC userbase. Sadly, this potential is squandered by what we believe to be poor fan selection, and that is hugely disappointing.
With pricing between £72.99 and £81.99, Fractal's Pop had the trappings of a budget gaming champion. Add on the case's optical driver support and we can add on niche appeal as well. But when you look at our thermal results, it is clear that Fractal's Pop Air is not the airflow case that we thought it was. Thermal results were so poor that it could be argued that "Air" should be removed from the Pop Air's official name.
Fans, Fans, Fans
Credit where credit is due, most budget case options ship without many fans to cut costs and Fractal's Pop Air ships with three. This practically forces uses to purchase more fans to make the most out of their new enclosures, or utilises an All-in-One CPU liquid cooler to fill those fan spaces.
The problem with Fractal's Pop Air fans is that they do not push a lot of air, so little in fact that we simply recommend that you replace them or re-mount them at the top of the chassis and add two 140mm fans in their place at the front. By simply placing our hand behind these fans when they are at max speed, we can feel very little airflow. This is not what we expect from a case with "Air" in its title. Perhaps this case is called the Pop because that's what it has done to our ballooned expectation from Fractal following the release of the Torrent?
Fractal's Pop Air is a case that we find visually appealing, well laid out and filled with useful, albeit niche, features. If the case shipped with stronger fans, it could be an excellent budget option, but as it stands it is something that we cannot recommend. The Pop Air needs more airflow, and as graphics cards get more power hungry, the Pop Air's fans will become a larger problem as next-generation graphics cards launch.
There is a lot that we like about the Pop Air, but its inability to live up to its "Air" naming places the case in a poor position. Why wouldn't you buy an NZXT H510 Flow over this? It has better thermals, it often has cheaper pricing (as it is an older case now), and it has a similar overall aesthetic. Unless you must have space for an optical drive, Fractal's Pop Air does little to make itself seem more appealing than many existing enclosures. And even if you need an optical disk drive, we would recommend that you upgrade the Pop Air's stock fans to something better.
From our perspective, we feel that Fractal should have released the RGB versions of this case without RGB fans and with fans that could simply deliver more airflow. Better still, make one or both of these fans 140mm in size to make better use of the case's front fan mounts. We see airflow as a problem with this case, and if Fractal fixed that the Pop Air would be a case worth recommending. As it stands, the Fractal Pop Air has competitors that are too strong to make it worth recommending, at least in its current state.
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Most Recent Comments
With so many versions of the case, you'd think they'd let people pick an airflow variant with a solid side panel. For those of us who don't like panels made of glass that can easily shatter. What a dumb gimmick.
However, you would have to be pretty damn clumsy.
The strongest form of glass is laminated. Where they take two thin sheets of glass and sandwich them over a substrate that is completely clear. If it breaks? nothing falls off. However, that is very expensive stuff. Windshields are laminated, and the rear screen (because of the heater) and the side windows are usually all tempered.Quote
It's the other way around dude. Tempered glass will shatter. It's designed that way so that it breaks into tiny little pieces rather than going into shards that could be very dangerous.
However, you would have to be pretty damn clumsy.
The strongest form of glass is laminated. Where they take two thin sheets of glass and sandwich them over a substrate that is completely clear. If it breaks? nothing falls off. However, that is very expensive stuff. Windshields are laminated, and the rear screen (because of the heater) and the side windows are usually all tempered.
In other words, its not meant to break easily but it if does, it will shatter. I guess my comment above was worded a little badly.Quote