View Full Version : Fractal Design Define XL R2 case review!

02-08-2014, 07:51 PM
So I recently picked up one of these for my upcoming mod (shameless plug, clicky clicky (http://www.thebestcasescenario.com/forum/showthread.php?33780-Project-Monolith)) and figured I'd do a run-down of the case.

I started to type up a review before but after realizing that I was writing a novel about this case and it's specific placement of things (in relation to each other, etc), I figured I'd start over from scratch and try not to be so long-winded. So, here goes.

First things first, this case is big, and this case is heavy. Newegg claims the weight to be around 34lbs, and it's a full ATX tower. I think it weighs closer to 40lbs but that's just me. It's boxed up pretty standard with two big styrofoam supports and the case itself in a plastic bag. It comes with an "owner's manual" that outlines a few things about the case.

First look:
The first thing you notice aside from the weight, is that it is nearly featureless externally. There are three visible "moduvent" fan holes (basically fan holes with a blockoff plate behind them). The front has a door that swings open, but it only opens one way which is kind of a negative for me. I got the black on black model so it's almost completely featureless from the exterior aside from some white slot covers and chromed case feet.

The case feet feel out of place on the otherwise black case. The slot covers too, but the fans that it comes with have black frames and white blades so you can get an idea of the "theme".

Open 'er up!:

Firstly inside the front panel there are no 3.5" drive bays, so be aware of that. Instead there are four 5.25" bays and a 280mm tall fan grill/setup thing that can accomodate two 140mm fans vertically. That thing has a filter on it which is nice.

On to the side panel, Remove it, and realize that's why the case is so goddamn heavy. Both side panels are covered in a thick tar paper used to mass-load the sidepanels as an effort to keep the case quiet. The "moduvent" blockoff plates also have a foam on them, and the front door panel has foam behind it as well. The case was designed with silence in mind, so that makes sense.

Once opened up you're greeted with some pretty standard stuff in cases by today's standards. Plenty of room for full ATX, XLATX, EATX motherboards, bottom-mount PSU, two sets of HD cages that hold 4 each, etc. The motherboard backing plate has holes with rubber grommets for running cables through, as well.

The bottom-mount PSU has a few rubber feet and is raised off of the case floor, likely for airflow. There is a vent right below the PSU as well that has another removable plastic screen filter. Just forward of the PSU is another 140mm fan pre-installed, and it has a fan grill on it as well which is a nice addition.

The HD cages are removeable, and repositionable. The top one comes out easy -- two thumbscrews and you can slide it out. The bottom one is a little more laborious to remove as it's held in with numerous screws to the frame. They come oriented sideways as stock, but can be rotated 90* for "additional airflow" as Fractal claims. They can also be mounted further back -- either halfway across where the bottom fan is, or in the bottom fan's spot. Fractal claims this is to allow more room at the front for a watercooling radiator.

Flip the case around backwards and you're greeted by a few cables that go to the front panel. All the normal connectors, plus the connectors for the built-in fan speed controller, which can handle 3 fans and output either 12v, 7v or 5v.

Also on the back of the motherboard are little slits cut in strategic places for cable management. The case comes with a few small black zipties as well so it's obvious this was designed with cable management in mind as well.

So, how does it air cool?:

Well the case comes with three Fractal Design Silent Series 140mm 1000RPM fans as standard. One in the bottom (intake) position, one in the front panel, and one in the upper back corner (exhaust). It has accomodations for seven fans overall, all 140mm. Two in the top panel, one on the back panel, one on the case floor, two in the front and one on the side panel near where your GPU will be. In that regard, I'd say it's fairly accommodating for those of us who still air cool their computers. The top, back, bottom and side panels can also accept 120mm fans by the looks of it, but I am unsure of the front panel.

So, how does it water cool?:

As stated earlier, Fractal did design the front panel to be accommodating of water-cooling setups, giving you plenty of real estate for fans, and the ability to move the HD cage back to fit a radiator. The top panel also appears to have enough clearance to where the motherboard sits for more radiator action.

Buuuuut, there's no portholes on the back to run lines outside of the computer. This may be problematic for people who want to run a larger (like 480mm) radiator on the top of the PC without interfering with the 5.25" drive bays. I know cutting holes isn't that difficult, but it would have been nice for Fractal to consider that regardless.

Build quality:

Honestly, everything on here has a great fit and finish, and is very solid. Holes have rubber gaskets in them, edges of panels are rolled. The whole case is painted throughout and it feels like a high quality, durable finish. Very well made.


Very well made and thought out case, with a nice, understated design. Good modding potential as a simple-straightforward "base", much like computers of yore. It has a few nice features and definitely looks and feels like it would perform well as an ultra-quiet or near silent computer for everyday use. My only gripe with the case is that you cannot reverse the direction the door opens but that is so minor that I'm only going to knock it down a bit and give it a...


edit\\ adding images:

Overall shot, 12oz beer for scale.

open the door...

Open the little fan door. Normally it only has one 140mm installed, the additional one was one I added.

and removing the fan holder.

around back of the case.

remove the bottom filter

all the way out

take the side off

one of the thumbscrews that holds the top cage in, the other is part of the 5.25" drive bays

you can turn the top cage sideways.

nice finish & detail on the components

okay, take the other side off. here you can see the cloth lined tar paper used for sound deadening.

back of the mobo tray, you can see the eyelets/slots for cable routing

wires for the built-in three-speed fan switch in the front panel

Here's what the "moduvent" plates look like. Matte on one side, foam on the other.

Mom approved.

02-10-2014, 12:06 AM
Added pictures.

02-10-2014, 07:17 AM
Love the fractal design cases especially the new revisions. Its a real pity I dont need another computer.

02-10-2014, 11:43 PM
I didn't "need" a new case per se. The CM Stacker 830 is still a fantastic case, and I absolutely love it. I'm still debating if I'm gonna offload it, or dick around with it once all the components are out.