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Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 Review: Improving On A Classic Case

Results: Fan Speeds, Temperatures, And Noise

Since the bundled Fractal Design FD-FAN-SSR2-140 fans run at almost exactly 1000, 700, and 500 RPM when they're attached to the integrated controller, we also ran the Thermalright TY-145 fan on our CPU cooler at these same speeds, manually dropping the voltage to get it down to 500 RPM.

The following table shows the measured temperatures of the components we benchmarked at the different fan RPM levels.

Temperatures at Full Load
1000 RPM700 RPM500 RPM
Ambient Temperature19.8 °C19.8 °C19.9 °C
Core i5-2500K (TCase)48 °C56 °C65 °C
Core i5-2500K (Average Core Temperature)56.9 °C63.3 °C72.4 °C
Nvidia GTX 47076 °C76 °C78 °C
3038 RPM (58 %)3457 RPM (64 %)4122 RPM (77 %)
Hard Drive25 °C27 °C30 °C
SSD34 °C36 °C38 °C

At 1000 RPM, the temperatures of each installed component indicate effective airflow in Fractal Design's Arc Midi R2. The stock fans are very much audible at this RPM level, to the point that we had to give noise level its own dedicated page. Considering that the thermal limit of Intel’s Core i5-2500K is 72.6 degrees Celsius (Tcase), the numbers we see are very good.

The temperature rises by 8 degrees to 56 degrees Celsius when the fans drop to 700 RPM, which is still very much acceptable. Stepping down to 500 RPM, the temperature rises to 65 degrees, which is starting to cut it close. Remember, though, that we were setting the CPU fan to match the case coolers. If we hooked it up to a motherboard fan header instead, the CPU's thermals would have been a lot better. Again, this was done to try balancing noise.

Fractal Design's Arc Midi R2 features a side window, which certainly looks better than a lot of mesh. But it does affect graphics card cooling in a negative way. Then again, sharp, clean looks are one of this case's main features. The temperatures are still acceptable for a GPU in the 200 W range. The GeForce GTX 470 can’t really be heard over the noise of the other fans spinning at 1000 or 700 RPM. It does spin up when the other blowers drop to 500 RPM, though, hitting speeds as high as 4122 RPM. 

Our storage devices maintain reasonable temperatures throughout testing. Even though the SSD is positioned in such a way that we thought we were punishing it, our readings suggest it's fine. Fractal Design does point out that those same temperatures wouldn't be good for a 2.5" mechanical drive, and we'd concur. Stick to SSDs around back on the motherboard tray.

There is plenty of room to install additional fans in the Arc Midi R2, which would be good for its thermals (particularly at lower rotational speeds). We purposely limited ourselves to the fans supported by the integrated controller, though.

Noise Levels at Full Load
1000 RPM700 RPM500 RPM
Noise Level from Front, 50 cm41.9 dB(A)41.2 dB(A)44.5 dB(A)
Noise Level from Top Left Diagonal, 50 cm42.6 dB(A)41.8 dB(A)44.7 dB(A)
Noise Level from Top Right Diagonal,  50 cm42.3 dB(A)41.7 dB(A)44 dB(A)

The graphics card is the main variable affecting the Arc Midi R2’s noise level under load. It gets enough fresh air at 1000 and 700 RPM and doesn't really stand out in any jarring way. At 500 RPM, however, the GeForce GTX 470 has to rev its fan up so high that the overall noise level is worse than the measurements at the other settings.

  • f-14
    Solution: buy some rubber toilet grommets or faucet washers from your local hardware store price will range from 25 cents to a little under a dollar and the problem is solved.

    Some Notes and Recommendations about Replacing the Fans

    Let's say everything else about the Arc Midi R2 is ideal for you, and you simply want to replace its fans.
    Reply
  • dish_moose
    I think a fan that vibrates when pointed down is an inferior product. I had to replace the fan on my Antec 302 for the same reason - drove me crazy. As for beauty over function - I would much rather keep my GPU cool that have a "pretty" side window.
    -Bruce
    Reply
  • mouse24
    ^ Was it a sleeve bearing fan? If so thats more or less normal due to how that bearing is designed.
    Reply
  • SchizoFrog
    Who puts a fan in the roof of a case to blow downwards? Surely the roof is best used as an exhaust and it was specifically mentioned about the fan blowing downwards. Personally I think I would be likely to buy a full set of fans so that I can fill all the fan mounts with the same design range and then keep the stock fans as emergency spares.

    As for keeping the GPU cool, I don't that is an issue with 2 the fans in the front creating perfectly adequate airflow to keep the GPU cool unless you are using multiple GPUs. Although in time I would probably mod the window and inserting an extra fan there as that isn't a hard job to do.
    Reply
  • cjny71
    Regarding the change from a side panel with a mesh vent to a window, I am not sure if this would make much of a difference to GPU cooling. I have the original Fractal Midi and I wanted to isolate noise a bit more, so I swapped the side panels so that the vented one is on the back of the mother board side. I had also installed 1 extra 140 mm fan in the bottom of the case blowing up to draw in cool air underneath. I did this before swapping the side panels. All of my 140 mm fans are turning at 700 rpm. Surprisingly I noticed that in this configuration the GPU was slightly cooler (1-2 C) at idle and under load with the solid panel on the right / GPU side, and the noise seemed a little lower. CPU temps did not change. I would have to guess that the mesh hole provides an escape port for air and the GPU fan has to work harder.
    Heat Sources: i5-3570K @ 4.4 GHz, Hyper 212 EVO, EVGA GTX 560Ti @ 900 MHz, 3 WD Cavier Black HD
    Reply
  • RazberyBandit
    The Arc Midi 2 and Define R4 use an identical core case design. The only design differences are found in the front and top panels. (Both are mesh in the Arc Midi 2, while the Define R4 has a front door and sound-proof material fan opening covers for the top fan openings.)
    With Define R4's often available for roughly $85 (on sale) and Arc Midi 2's typically about $65 online, I find the $20 additional cost for the sound-proofing included in the Define R4 models a very worthwhile investment.
    Reply
  • brazuka331
    Just got the Define R4 last week and i could not be happier!
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    11627141 said:
    Surprisingly I noticed that in this configuration the GPU was slightly cooler (1-2 C) at idle and under load with the solid panel on the right / GPU side, and the noise seemed a little lower.
    Does your GPU have its fan at one end of the card and exhaust directly outside through the rear bracket? If it does, the reason you see lower GPU temps is likely that the slightly more positive (or slightly less negative) pressure in the case from going solid makes the GPU's HSF a little more efficient at shoving warm air out of the case. Cards with "mid-mount" fans may also benefit from this due to slightly increased vertical airflow between the GPU's top edge and case panel carrying warm air up through the case faster.

    That is what I like to call structured airflow. Placing fans in the most effective places and shutting off meshed areas that allow air to escape without contributing to net cooling can achieve superior results with much less meshed area and fewer fans.
    Reply
  • basketcase87
    11626775 said:
    I think a fan that vibrates when pointed down is an inferior product. I had to replace the fan on my Antec 302 for the same reason - drove me crazy. As for beauty over function - I would much rather keep my GPU cool that have a "pretty" side window.
    -Bruce

    Side fans don't always help GPU temps, they can even hurt temps in some cases by interfering with the airflow from the GPU fan. It really depends on the case and GPU (and whether or not the front intakes do anything for the GPU), but saying categorically that having an intake there will improve GPU temps is certainly not true.
    Reply
  • fat_panda
    It deserves a "Smart Buy" Award. Arc Midi R2 offers much more for the price than the competition while often being on sale for $65.
    Reply