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PC Case Roundup: Spring 2008

3R System R240 Grace

CaseTypeSize WxHxDWeightCooling5.25” Bays3.5” BaysI/O panelNoiseApprox. Price
3R System R240 GraceATX mid tower180 x 423 x 475 mm11 lbs2x 80mm (opt. 1x 120 mm and 1x 80mm)41 ext, 7 int2x USB, HD Audio (on top)34 db (est)$120

Specifications

The R240 is priced in the $120 range, close to most of the cases in this roundup. However, it really stands out from the crowd, being the smallest and the lightest case by far, at 11 pounds. This is indicative of lightweight materials, not shoddy workmanship, as the R240 is a well-built unit.

Being the smallest case, the R240 also has the smallest fans: two 80mm fans come with the unit, one intake on the side over the CPU, and one to exhaust air in the back. You might think these small fans would create a high-pitched noise, but the sound they made was almost completely undetectable! The R240 is easily the quietest case in our roundup, although it likely sports the lowest amount of airflow as well.

The R240 tied the Sigma Unicorn for the simplest I/O panel, with only two USB ports and an HD audio output; Firewire would have been nice. The Grace was one of the few remaining cases in our roundup that had the I/O panel in the traditional spot on the bottom front side of the case — it seems everyone else is putting the panel on the top these days, for easier access if the case rests on the floor.

Unique Features

The R240 really stands out from the roundup crowd as something different: it’s the smallest and lightest case, the only one with a detailed LED display, is very uniquely styled, and is the only case with a remote control.

The remote is a particularly strange addition, as these are usually reserved for dedicated home theater PCs that look more like component home theatre systems than computers. The R240 doesn’t seem to be targeted for this use, instead appearing to be marketed for the general PC user who would appreciate some HTPC functionality and unique style. With the remote comes iMon manager software that interfaces the remote with Windows, allowing you to use it to control media applications, and even use it to control your mouse or an on-screen keyboard. Once again, very HTPC-ish.

The LED info display is another feature that is unmatched in the remainder of our roundup. This bright red display shows the user a bunch of useful (and not so useful) statistics, such as system running time, fan speed, hard disk operation and – this is a strange one – the “mascot”, which is a small animated dog that constantly chases and catches a Frisbee. I know that some things get lost in translation on the way to North America, but the dog is unobtrusive and really just looks like a cool moving LED unless you scrutinize it.

Included in the case is a temperature sensor you can place anywhere you like, so you can control which component’s temperature you want to see.

Appearance, Fit & Finish

The R240 looks very stylish and slick, with a perfect gloss black paintjob and matte black tribal art subtly overlaid. The case is somewhat monolithic, even though it’s relatively small, and it’s very good looking. Little touches like optical drive covers really go the extra mile.

The fit and finish is excellent — 3R System looks like they’re really interested in the details, and it shows. Everything about the R240 Grace has a solid, smooth feel.

User Experience

One pleasant feature we noticed is that the R240 doesn’t rely on the motherboard for fan headers; the case has two fan headers built in to supply the fans with power. This is probably to supply the data to the LED display, but regardless, it’s nice not to have to depend on your motherboard manufacturer to provide a bunch of extra headers.

It’s always great to use a quiet case, and the R240’s included fans are so quiet that at first, we thought they weren’t working. We already mentioned that the included fans were the quietest in our test group, but it’s worth mentioning again, because they were so much quieter.

It is interesting to note that the R240 Grace does not follow the current trend of having tool-less installation features. Everything must be screwed in; there are no quick locking mechanisms of any kind. This certainly isn’t the worst sin a case manufacturer can make, but it’s worth mentioning.

Our only concern would be that this case is a little on the small side, and a user might find it a little frustrating to assemble a system within its confines. In addition, it’s probably not the best choice for a super-hot uber-system, as the air flow provided by two relatively small and silent 80mm fans might not be suitable to cool very hot PC components.

On the other hand, the R240 Grace would be an ideal case for someone who has a chipset with integrated graphics that can playback HD video for HTPC purposes, like the new AMD 780G or Nvidia MCP 78S. These machines don’t need the extra space or cooling a discrete graphics card would require.

  • geotech
    Nothing on the Thermaltake Armor?
    One of the best case designs and plenty of room and features.
    Reply
  • bf2gameplaya
    Every one of those cases is butt ugly, unwieldy and depressing.
    Reply
  • Gravemind123
    Nothing from Lian-Li, Thermaltake or Antec? In that price range you could review a nice case from any of those companies.
    Reply
  • Yep is a very poor roundup allright !
    Where is Antec Nine Hundred or the new Twelve Hundred and the excelent P182 ???
    The Cosmos S seems to be out of place here.... its in another league: Armor+, Silverstone TJ07B, Stacker
    Reply
  • otheos
    Simple is an uknown word in the aesthetics of the east.
    Reply
  • scherfistv
    Lazy review, the guys from TOM's couldn't find more attractive PC Cases? It's all made in "China"-like?
    Reply
  • TiberiumSoldier
    poor Roundup.. no Enermax Chakra/uber Chakra no EZCool .....
    Reply
  • SinisterCanuck
    All mid tower cases... not one Full Tower! I haven't purchased a mid tower case in nearly 8 years for any of my builds because they are too crammed for my liking. As stated by other commenters, where's the Thermaltake Armor? Where's the Antec Twelve Hundred? etc. These were nice looking cases, but they are all middle of the road as far as I am concerned. You need to do a cases revisited or an enthusiast case round up! ...please do that
    Reply
  • I have my doubts about your praise on 3R System case. I have similar model. Exactly the same inside structure but without the remote control, display and with different front side.

    First of all, it's not that well-built. Sides bend and that inside metal (Al?) is really soft. And if you want to remove the front there are like 6 almost unreachable screws to be unscrewed which is pain in the a**.

    Fans are really quiet though.
    Reply
  • only Cosmos S look good to me.
    Reply