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