Fractal Design Define R4
Thick sheet metal and high-density noise dampening make Fractal Design’s Define R4 one of the heaviest mid-tower cases we’ve ever reviewed. At 26.4 pounds, it's only a few pounds less than the all-extruded (and ancient) Zalman Z-Machine LQ1000. Since a finished Define R4 build can easily top 42 pounds, we suggest buying a hand truck or wheelbarrow for LAN parties.
The honeycomb pattern of three fan grilles barely stand out against the R4’s otherwise shadowy exterior. There's one on the left side panel and two up top; all three are covered internally with foam-backed plastic covers.
Moving to the front of the case, what looks to be an extruded face plate is actually just an aluminum skin covering a heavy-duty plastic door. The door is filled with a custom-cut foam insert, not just a piece of foam adhered to a flat door, which makes the use of plastic a little more forgivable. Behind the door, a three-speed fan controller is located to the right of the uppermost drive bays. The R4’s front-panel connectors are actually located across the forward edge of its top panel.
Directly below the two external drive bays is a flip-down vented fan cover. Behind that cover is the one front fan included with Fractal's R4, as well as a handy clip-in bracket for another fan. A long dust filter covers them both.
Fractal Design places the Define R4’s eighth slot above the others, right where grommets for external liquid-cooling lines are often placed. Although it isn't as ideal as a grommet, you can remove the slot cover and use that space for liquid-cooling lines.
A better use for this slot would be for those port break-out panels with extra USB or FireWire connectivity that accompany many motherboards. The position of the eighth slot also means that builders cannot hang a dual-slot graphics card past the end of a motherboard.
A dust filter large enough to cover both the power supply intake and bottom fan mount slides out from beneath the rear of the R4.