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

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.

  • blackmagnum
    What's up with the white case fan? Won't it turn yellow once time and dust have a go at it?
    Reply
  • Luay
    Which case is in the first photo on the first page sitting next to the Mini R2? MIDI R2 or XL?
    Reply
  • DookieDraws
    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.
    Reply
  • Lutfij
    12901060 said:
    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!
    Reply
  • vertexx
    Looking forward to a review of the new Node 804 uATX cube.
    Reply
  • daglesj
    Nice looking mature case. Just get rid of the awful side window (really, no one is impressed by whats inside) and its a deal!
    Reply
  • ubercake
    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.
    Reply
  • Au_equus
    The top panel can support a 280mm radiator also, albeit a slim one due to the proximity to the motherboard.
    Reply
  • QuietPC
    Boring
    Reply
  • user 18
    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.
    Reply