Fractal Design ARC XL Reviewhornybluecow - October 8, 2013
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Fractal Design ARC XL Conclusion
Let us recap my reasoning and scoring method before diving into the 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 surprised me with the care put into all its features, so before I say my final words, let me explain the pros and cons. Starting with the cons, I do not have much to say in all honesty. Normally I could write pages of things to correct but my issues with this chassis are 100% nitpicks. The panels were a bit of a pain to remove without getting my grubby fingerprints all over everything. The solution is to either add a notch or real handles on the back; hopefully this will be in a revision. Next up is the completely useless user manual! What can I say, I gathered more information from its brochure on Fractal Design's website than in this manual. Companies like Corsair and Cooler Master have simple, fold out manuals explaining all the screws and where they go. That to me is the bare minimum and it was annoying trying to find information that should be included. Last on the list is the front panel lights. You can ignore this if bright lights do not bother you, for me though, it does.
With a good amount of pros I am only going to focus on what really sells the product to me. First up, water cooling, need I say more? This chassis is amazing with its vast options for any sort of configuration you can think up. It does have its limits when setting up push/pull or thick radiators though. Next, my favorite topics: internal cables and cable management. I am sure people are tired of my complaints involving cable lengths. All this is solved now with a company that actually thought ahead! Fractal Design's choice to include 1" (26mm) of space behind the motherboard tray was also a great idea. This alone really pushes the case towards stardom. I cannot count how many times the only option I have is to tie all the loose wires and have them block an air intake fan.
Onto the finale! Fractal Design has blown me away with its vast options of fan placements, sizes, and water cooling support. Normally price would be an issue since I am a bit of a cheap person, but this chassis is built very well and has everything a full tower needs. In fact, if it wasn't for the small issues I would recommend this to everyone and make this my standard of what a well priced full tower should be.
In the end though, the Fractal Design ARC XL comes up a little short, but is still very good. Anyone who is not into water cooling will only benefit from the extra fans and wire management. I personally am adding this case to my permanent collection for a future build. If you are finding it hard to spend $130 on a computer case, I do not think you will regret this one. You cannot ask for a better built chassis at this price and even if all the extra features are not used, it's still worth the admission for quality and care alone.
- Advanced water cooling support
- Well built metal frame
- Strong 3.5" bays
- Dedicated SSD bays
- Support for large aftermarket CPU coolers (180mm)
- Support for high-end graphics cards (480mm)
- Long internal cables
- Easy cable management (26mm behind tray)
- Weak user manual
- Side panels
- Bright front panel lights