Fractal Design ARC Mini R2 Case Reviewhornybluecow - December 17, 2013
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Fractal Design ARC Mini R2 Conclusion:
Let us recap my reasoning and scoring method before diving into my final words. First I look at what the company is saying it offers. For example, say the company states the case supports large / long graphic cards or ten quiet fans. In this example, I examine what is advertised versus what is actually offered. Most of this becomes uncovered as I take pictures to document the product. If the company does not stay true to its word, then it loses points because no one ever wants to be sold on false advertisement. Next I look at what the product is marketed for and put it into perspective. An example of this could be trying to overclock a CPU in a Mini ITX case and expecting a low temperature. This would contradict its target market and something I try to catch so it does not affect the score. The last bit is my own interjection. What could the case offer in its price range, and what do other companies offer. This category may include an extra fan, cable management, different color paint, or support for larger video cards. This list is endless so let's move on to the conclusion.
Fractal Design has once again put thought and care into all of its features, so before I say my final words, let me explain the pros and cons. Starting with the negative, my issues are less of a deal and more of an annoyance. As explained in the previous page, the user manual is lacking in further useful information. Yes it does cover the basics, but I would like to see everyone rising to NZXT standards in the manual department. This product only contained four pages for the manual; that to me is the bare minimum and it was annoying trying to find information that should be included.
Next up is the size. While I didn't talk about this during the review, I realized it's an important topic. The Mini R2 is rather on the big side of mini and getting close to Mid-Tower. If you are looking for the smallest form factor this isn't it. I must say that it is hard to define mini since both Micro ATX and ITX motherboards are allowed in the category, so be aware of the size if that is a factor for you. Last on the list are the front panel lights. You can ignore this if bright lights do not bother you, but for me it did, and I wish it was a bit dimmer.
With a large amount of positive things to say, I am going to focus on the major selling points. To start off, this chassis includes the high quality standards of its big brother, the ARC XL. I think the biggest selling point is the large amount of spacing behind the motherboard tray. Usually a smaller chassis means the harder cable management becomes and this is no different. The expectation here is the good amount of space and I was able to hide all the wires of a non-modular power supply without much of an issue. Using the built-in fan controller was very useful and essential to small form factor motherboards.
Next, there is included support for larger video cards and CPU coolers, making it a very welcome addition to this small chassis. Lastly is the water cooling support, which to me it is a dud because you lose either one or both bays when installing anything other than a 240mm radiator on top. The reason why I kept it in the Pros was because it's very uncommon to support a custom liquid cooling setup in the realm of small chassis, but Fractal Design added it anyways, even if it might be less than practical. It does not hurt the chassis in any way by including it, so it is a warm welcome in my eyes.
To wrap up this review, the Fractal Design Mini R2 is a great chassis that follows the quality already set by the larger ARC XL I reviewed earlier this year. The only major downside is the cost and that is more of issue with me being cheap rather than a deal breaker. Chassis in this category sell from anywhere between $35 and $150, making it hard to pinpoint the sweet spot between a quality deal and paying more for the name. That being said, anyone looking for a quality chassis that is in need of a smaller form factor, the ARC Mini R2 is definitely something to keep an eye out for.
- Advanced water cooling support
- Well built metal frame
- Strong 3.5" bays
- Dedicated SSD bays
- Support for large aftermarket CPU coolers (165mm)
- Support for high-end graphics cards (400mm)
- Built-in fan controller
- Easy cable management (20mm behind tray)
- Weak user manual
- Bright front panel lights
- On the large side for a mini