|Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Tom Jaskulka|
|Monday, 15 April 2013|
Page 5 of 7
Closer Look: Interior
Of course, the real nitty-gritty of any build is what happens on the inside. The decisions made here can completely change how you approach your build, not to mention determine the very components that will end up as part of your system. While the Arc Midi R2 settles for a relatively standard ATX format at first glance, there are some surprises here.
There's a reason many cases look the same on the inside: ATX is a "standard." There are only so many ways to place a power supply, motherboard, 3.5 and 5.25 drives in a metal enclosure. That being said, Fractal Design has included some features that provide lots of options to prospective builders. While the rubber grommets for routing cables are becoming standard, a look towards the top of the Arc Midi R2 shows some welcome additions. Those two grommet holes at the top are very much appreciated, especially when mounting a radiator with multiple fans. The 3.5" drive trays are modular in design, similar to other Fractal Design cases. However, these have changed slightly from the first version.
The new 5+3 HDD tray configuration allows for multiple mounting options. As seen above, the top cage can be rotated to allow for less restrictive airflow from the front intake...
...or it can be removed entirely. This is similar to the configuration I settled on when building a system in this chassis, but we're not done with the configurations of the hard drive trays quite yet. Removing the center tray allows for the installation of very long graphics cards and increases the airflow to those cards.
Speaking of airflow, the top of the Arc Midi is almost entirely mesh as well. There is room for three 140mm or 120mm fans in the top panel - limited to 2x120mm or 2x140mm radiators however, as those mounting points are offset to provide clearance for the motherboard. You'll probably lose the use of the top optical drive bay if you choose a longer radiator (a 3x120mm radiator would fit, but there isn't a complete set of mounting holes for one).
The back of the motherboard tray shows the included cables already tied down pretty well - with a decent number of extra tie down points as well. I'd have liked to see some tie down options for the CPU 12v 4/8 pin cable, as I usually route that straight back from the PSU along the rear edge of the CPU cutout. While it doesn't get in the way, that is one of the cables that rarely needs to be moved. The option to tie it down would be nice. Also, we see the eight mounting points for two 2.5" drives that are located almost exactly center. Mounting a drive here would place the end of the drive conveniently on the edge of the grommet for cabling - which may be less of a convenience depending on the type of SATA cable you choose to use. Speaking of convenience...these mounting points are not. Having to remove a motherboard to mount or remove a drive here seems to be a strange decision. On the one hand, I appreciate the option. On the other? Well, let's just say this warrants a third revision for these to be useful. I am very glad to see manufacturers begin to utilize the space here though, and hope to see more cases use this space effectively.
Of course, the traditional use for that space is for stashing power supply cables, and there is certainly enough room behind the motherboard tray to allow for a whole mess of them. Even the 24-pin main ATX connector, normally the bulkiest and hardest to stash behind the motherboard tray (and still get the side panel on) doesn't cause a problem in the Arc Midi R2.
I appreciate the fact that Fractal Design allows for some versatility in the Arc Midi R2. Even if the stock configuration doesn't provide enough room for you, it is easy enough to create some. Above is a picture of the chassis with all drive cages removed. A custom water cooling loop often needs space for a separate reservoir and pump - not a problem in the Arc Midi R2. The reputation of the original Arc Midi stays intact with the R2, continuing the tradition of accommodating many different water and air cooling configurations in a relatively small enclosure.