Sizing Up Fractal Design's Arc Midi R2
A new version of something suggests that things wrong with the old one were fixed, and that other improvements have been made. Fractal Design keeps this promise with its Arc Midi R2. The exterior looks better, in our opinion, with the tinted side window. All of the components are manufactured to a high standard, and even the front and top covers fit well together thanks to their solid plastic and the brushed aluminum-style finish. On the inside, the Arc Midi R2 offer lots of space in spite of its relatively modest dimensions. This is achieved by making the case wide and providing modular hard drive cages. Extra-large CPU coolers, graphics cards, and power supplies are all easily accommodated. There’s also lots of room for cable management. Large filters in the front, top, and bottom of the case keep dust particles from entering, and are easy to access and remove for cleaning.
The Arc Midi R2’s bundled stock fans provide good cooling performance, and there are several additional spots to install more. Alternatively, the case will also take up to two 240 mm radiators. An integrated fan controller on the front panel allows you to dial in the rotational speed and noise level appropriate for the hardware inside of Fractal Design's enclosure.
Unfortunately, the stock fans produce a lot of vibrations when they're installed horizontally with the blades facing down. The one attached to the case’s top cover transfers these vibrations to the chassis, resulting in a noticeable increase in noise. We recommend either isolating the fan somehow or investing in an aftermarket cooler. The integrated fan controller has its limits though, so you need to be careful when it comes time to pick replacements.
In addition to plenty of room for storage, Fractal Design builds in room for up to two SSDs on the back of the motherboard tray. If you find yourself in the market for a couple of large solid-state drives and don't need the hard disk cages, you can pull them out entirely, creating quite a bit of room for airflow, large graphics cards, and extra-long power supplies.
Fractal Design's Arc Midi R2 is a good next step for the company. It features a number of subtle improvements over the case's popular predecessor, but maintains solid build quality, enthusiast-oriented flexibility, and some of those same features we were introduced to for the first time under $100. In fact, for a fitting $85, you get a case that does many things right. Just the top fan needs some improvement.