Fractal Design Define R4 review: refined silence

Bigger, deeper, heavier - but is it more quiet?

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Introduction

Fractal Design is known for creating computer chassis with an emphasis on silent cooling. The company has gathered a loyal following that appreciates the stylish design, quality materials and good performance of their products. We have frequently been very positive about their chassis, and some time ago the fourth edition of their "Define" flagship chassis was released, the R4. It took a while to arrive at our lab, but finally we are able to test the Fractal Design Define R4 and compare it to other silent chassis.


Like its predecessor, the Define R4 is equipped with sound-dampening mats in the side panels, and it's been added to the front panel as well. This affects the noise levels of course, but it can also affect the cooling. In our last test of silent chassis, with the Corsair Obsidian 550D and Cooler Master Silencio 650, it became apparent that chassis in this class don't cool very well. So poor, actually, that only entry-level or mid-range systems are suitable.

With an average price of £85 the Fractal Design Define R4 is not exactly an entry-level or mid-range chassis. We are eager to find out how it performs.

Fractal Design Define R4 Black Pearl

In comparison

We compared the Define R4 with a number of other chassis that emphasise silence. These are also very comparable in terms of looks. A door on the front adds noise-dampening, and with an additional absorbing mat it's even more effective. The drawback is that it will block the airflow.

The table above shows that the internal volume is similar in the different models, with some exceptions. The Define R4 has a volume of 57.84 dm³ based on the exterior dimensions, which makes it comparable to the Corsair Obsidian 550D. That one does cost almost £30 more, so it will be interesting to see how they compare in terms of performance. The predecessor, R3, was not included in the overview, because it was tested in a different way. We will of course mention the differences with the previous model. 


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