Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

An Elegant, Well-Thought-Out Case For A Micro-ATX System

Fractal Design Arc Mini R2 Case Review: For Your MicroATX Build
By

With the addition of its Arc Mini R2, Fractal Design offers a completely updated case family. The enormous Arc XL and the Arc Midi R2 mid-tower are joined by a smaller offering fit for micro-ATX-based systems. The Arc Mini R2 shares the line-up's solid build quality; its fit and quality of the covers, sides, internal frame, and hard drive cages are all top-notch, readily competing with anything that’s currently on the market. For what you pay, performance is also outstanding. And that could have earned the Arc Mini R2 our highest honor, if it weren't for the bundled fans, which just aren't up to the enclosure's otherwise high standards. It’s true that they run quietly in the 500-600 RPM range. But if you're planning to run the case fans as slowly as possible, you might be more sensitive to the noises caused by vibrations.

Apart from our problems with the fans, Fractal Design's Arc Mini R2 has a lot to offer, despite its compact dimensions. The hard drive cages are modular, and the top one is easy to remove in the event you're using longer graphics cards. CPU coolers can measure up to 16.5 cm in height, which is a lot for a mini-tower. This makes dealing with the only 1.9 cm of room for cables behind the motherboard tray easier. The integrated fan controller offers three settings: 12, 7, and 5 V. So, even if the stock fans aren't our favorite, at least you're able to balance out thermal performance and noise. Dust is kept out by a number of filters, which are also easy to access and remove. SSDs can optionally be installed behind the motherboard tray, out of sight. Beyond the already-covered caveats, 24- and 36-cm length radiators and compact water cooling solutions are viable in the Arc Mini R2 as well. Along with the elegant design and nice big side window, all of this makes for a top-notch micro-ATX case.

At $100, this case isn't cheap. But it's also a premium piece of equipment we have no trouble calling one of the best options for its form factor. A definite balance between performance and value earns our Tom’s Hardware Smart Buy award.

At the end if the day, if you're looking for an elegant, enthusiast-oriented microATX case with a window, put the Arc Mini R2 at the top of your list. It's going for $100 on Newegg right now, and again, it's one of the best entries to this size segment. Just bear in mind that if you would like to run the chassis' fans at 5 V to keep the noise level down, you'll probably want to budget extra for higher-quality fans as well.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 22 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 0 Hide
    blackmagnum , March 17, 2014 1:46 AM
    What's up with the white case fan? Won't it turn yellow once time and dust have a go at it?
  • 1 Hide
    Luay , March 17, 2014 2:18 AM
    Which case is in the first photo on the first page sitting next to the Mini R2? MIDI R2 or XL?
  • 0 Hide
    DookieDraws , March 17, 2014 2:44 AM
    Quote:
    Which case is in the first photo on the first page sitting next to the Mini R2? MIDI R2 or XL?
    It's the Arc XL. I've been looking at it and the Arc Midi R2 cases. They're nice looking cases.
  • 1 Hide
    Lutfij , March 17, 2014 2:57 AM
    Quote:
    What's up with the white case fan? Won't it turn yellow once time and dust have a go at it?

    Fractal's signature theme is a monochrome theme. Black over white or white over black. The only exceptions in their lineup will be the Blackout Edition case where(as the name gave it away) is going to be completely black - all the way down to having black drive sleds and fans with black blades.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8rDDyDW0yA#t=143

    With advancements of manufacturing, all things tech that is white such as white PCB'd products and plastics won't turn yellow which apparently happens when exposed to UV radiation due to bromine in the plastic to act as a flame retardant.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brominated_flame_retardant

    Now due to various issues, the process has been changed, that's why you now see alot of white products NOT turn yellow within a few months.

    Personally I love anything Fractal make, they are minimalist and functional!
  • 0 Hide
    vertexx , March 17, 2014 3:13 AM
    Looking forward to a review of the new Node 804 uATX cube.
  • -1 Hide
    daglesj , March 17, 2014 3:48 AM
    Nice looking mature case. Just get rid of the awful side window (really, no one is impressed by whats inside) and its a deal!
  • 3 Hide
    ubercake , March 17, 2014 4:17 AM
    I like the idea you can remove the drive cage. I can't stand cases with intakes whose air is immediately blocked by the drive cage. How effective is an intake that blows against a wall of metal?With these small cases, they need to just have one true 5.25 drive bay for optical and should adapt any other 5.25 bays to hold SSDs and HDDs. This way, the intake fans can blow freely across the motherboard. Most people don't need multiple optical drives any longer; especially not in a micro-atx case.

    Also, there is no reason SSDs can't be mounted to the back of the motherboard trays. NZXT utilizes this design on a lot of their cases. You can even do this yourself without issue by just using some velcro if you have enough clearance between the motherboard tray and the case.

    I think most people use their optical drives so infrequently, it makes sense to share a USB optical drive among all of your PCs.

    I can see internal optical drives going by the way of the dinosaur; again, especially on a microATX build. Why are case designers still including so many 5.25 bays in general? More than one is hardly necessary for the average user. The only people who need multiple 5.25s are those with disk copying/duplication stations. Most of us aren't using our PCs for this purpose and if we are, we aren't doing it in a microATX package.
  • 0 Hide
    Au_equus , March 17, 2014 5:56 AM
    The top panel can support a 280mm radiator also, albeit a slim one due to the proximity to the motherboard.
  • -1 Hide
    QuietPC , March 17, 2014 8:37 AM
    Boring
  • 0 Hide
    user 18 , March 17, 2014 8:38 AM
    There are other uses for 5.25 bays than just optical drives. Hot-swap HDD/SSD, aftermarket fan controllers, card readers, front panel ports, the list goes on and on.
  • 0 Hide
    zeph_yr , March 17, 2014 4:40 PM
    Quote:
    What's up with the white case fan? Won't it turn yellow once time and dust have a go at it?
    I've had a fractal case with white fans for about a year now and they're still as white as they were when I first got it. Also has a white NZXT fan in there which is 3-4 years old and is still white.
  • 1 Hide
    chuckydb , March 17, 2014 7:23 PM
    After seeing the display Fractal made earlier this year, this thing is build for watercooling with some thick rads.Look at this beauty: http://pics.computerbase.de/5/0/0/4/2/7.jpg I was planning going for a water cooled rig, and I actaully don't care for the Disk drive or even a regular HDD.I think I found my new case right here!
  • 0 Hide
    jvhbca , March 20, 2014 1:25 PM
    I have the arc midi r2 with a regular side panel+intake fan.. best case i ever owned.
  • 0 Hide
    kdk_warhead , March 20, 2014 2:19 PM
    Fractal designs fan controller can kill your CPU!

    If it is the same fan controller as R4 (very likely) then it works like this:
    12v mode: 12v from molex to ground
    5v mode: 5v molex to ground
    7v mode: 12v molex to 5v molex

    The problem is the 7-volt mod that Fractal Design used. They claim that it´s okay to force up to 15 watt of power backwards into the 5v line. It´s not a good thing to do according to these links:
    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article6-page1.html
    http://www.overclockers.com/forums/s...d.php?t=372297
    http://www.jonnyguru.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3917
    http://www.ithinkibrokeit.co.uk/arti...vmod/page1.php

    I have a R4 and FD Norton 600w PSU. When I used the 7-volt mod it destroyed my 4770k AND my replacement CPU G3225… and this is with their own PSU. The computer worked fine just up to the 7-volt mod. I contacted Fractal design about this but they can’t see a problem and they do not have the time to investigate it. I´ve wrote about it here but it’s unfortunately in Swedish:
    http://www.sweclockers.com/forum/74-chassin-och-nataggregat/1283945-newton-600w-define-trasig-4770k/#post14450237
  • 0 Hide
    jvhbca , March 20, 2014 2:28 PM
    What 7v mod? my CPU runs fine.. I just keep all fans on 12v with the fans they provided.
  • 0 Hide
    kdk_warhead , March 20, 2014 2:31 PM
    The load used with the 7-volt mod vas pump: Phobya DC12-220 (6.5W @ 12v)
  • 0 Hide
    kdk_warhead , March 20, 2014 2:34 PM
    Quote:
    What 7v mod? my CPU runs fine.. I just keep all fans on 12v with the fans they provided.
    It´s risky to change the fan controller from 12v to 7v or from 5v to 12v when the computer is running. Or use a pump with a delayed start as I did.
  • 0 Hide
    jvhbca , March 20, 2014 2:36 PM
    Ah, i see.. i dont fuss with changing the fan speeds at all. just keep them at 12v all the time..
  • 0 Hide
    kdk_warhead , March 21, 2014 11:13 AM
    testtest test
  • 0 Hide
    Lutfij , March 21, 2014 1:06 PM
    You might want to cut that out now. Please post constructively.
Display more comments