Today, I’ve got with me a Fractal Arc to review. Truth be told, this is the first Fractal Design product that I’ve ever had the chance to use for myself, so I must say that I was rather looking forward to getting my hands on it. I’ve seen plenty of Fractal Design products and I’ve always thought that they’re rather stylish. The one feature which always stood out to me was that every Fractal Design case seems to have the capacity to store a plethora of hard drives and this is true with the Fractal Arc that I’m reviewing today.
Fractal Design Arc - Front
Before I begin, it seems that the Fractal Arc comes in two variants, an MATX version and an ATX version. The version that I’m using today is the ATX version, albeit I’m using an MATX motherboard, but that won’t be a problem.
First impressions of the case are positive, the front has a brushed plastic material which when you’re looking from the front on looks smart and sleek. One thing I noticed on the Fractal was that it only had two optical bays, while I found this odd, I find that generally speaking people don’t tend to opt for many optical drives, or even fill up the slots, if they were going to, they wouldn’t be looking at this case, which makes it a none problem, however it was a first for me.
Continuing further on with the front, there’s a large section with perforated metal, which sits in front of a fan filter, which in turn fits in front of slots for two 140mm fans. For the stock cooling, Fractal has included one 140mm fan, I’d have liked to see two fans then for greater intake however, but the ability to have two front intakes on a case this size is a welcome feature.
On the Fractal Arc, the front panel is located on the top side of the case, but still on the brushed plastic facia, here we have 1 USB 3.0 and 2 USB 2.0, with the power button in the middle of the Front panel, next to the headphone and microphone jacks and lastly the reset switch, so a fairly standard front panel.
Fractal Design Arc - Front - Top
Continuing with the top of the case, it has the same perforated metal with fan filters, this fills the majority of the top of the case, again coming with one 140mm fan with the stock cooling of the case, the perforated metal with dust filter also continues into the optical bay. For expandable cooling, the top allows 3 x 120mm fans or 2 x 140mm fans, which also means that the case has a fair few options for mounting radiators in the top if you’re into watercooling.
Moving to the back of the case, it’s pretty much a standard affair, you’ve got your rear mounted fan, which in this case is a 140mm fan like the rest of the fans that come included in the Fractal Arc, you could alternatively mount a 120mm fan. Just slightly above the 140mm fan there’s two rubber grommets, if you were to mount an external radiator and have the tubes feeding in and out, this is a fairly standard feature. Going to the left from the rear fan, you’ve got your I/O plate. Moving on you’ve then got your usual 7 expansion slot brackets for an ATX case, however above these is another expansion slot bracket, this is for installing supplied fan controller for the case from Fractal. I found this to be a very nice touch to an already impressive looking case.
Moving to the bottom of the case, the first thing I can notice is the removable dust filter, this is another feature that I feel totally trumps what I have on my Elysium, as I find it stupidly annoying to remove and clean my dust filter. The dust filter on the Fractal Arc slides it simply and is very easy to clean and then just slide back in, this is very convenient and a very nice touch. There’s 4 rubber feet on the Fractal Arcs bottom side, these are all removable. The last point of interest is the sticker of authenticity that this is indeed a fractal product.
Lastly, before we remove them, we’ll talk about the side panels. The left side panel is made out of steel, painted a plain matte black; it has perforated metal with fan spacing for either a 200mm fan or a 180mm fan as a side intake. The right side panel is exactly the same as the left, without the inclusion of an option to mount a fan; overall, they’re nice and simple.
Now it’s time to get inside of the case and start talking about what the case is like.
As I mentioned earlier, the Fractal case only has two optical drives, this has in turn allowed Fractal Design to include a massive amount of hard drive storage space, which I find is a very good positive for the case, I’ll move onto the hard drive mounting shortly. The hard drive mounts are housed in two sections; each one containing enough space and mounts for 4 hard drives each, for a total of 8 hard drives in the case. The top section is removable if you find you’re able to fit your graphics card and require more room, which allows the case to be more future proof as we get longer cards.
Removable HDD Cage - Fractal Design Arc.
Now onto the hard drive mounts themselves, this again I feel is another massive plus, I, like many people am sick of cases that don’t have native support for 2.5” SSD’s, which then becomes amplified when the SSD’s don’t come with adaptors, which happened recently with me and my Crucial M4, and my case is much larger and comes with a much higher price tag. As I was saying, the Fractal hard drive mounts screw into the bottom of a hard drive, as opposed the side, this was something I’d never come across before, however after using it, I felt it was the superior method, this also removed the chance of scraping the sides of the hard drive against the rails when installing a hard drive the usual way. Another point to make about the hard drive mounting bays is that they come with rubber anti vibration pads on the hard drives; I can’t find a way not to praise Fractals attention to detail with the hard drive mounting. Lastly these hard drive mounts also natively support 2.5” HDD’s/SSD’s using the same screw from bottom approach, which I felt was far better than my Elysium’s mounting method and the HAF 912 I’d been using at the same time.
At the bottom of the case there’s anti vibration pads for when you come to installing your power supply, as well as some real estate to install an intake fan 140mm or 120mm. My only complaint is that I feel there isn’t enough real estate to install a decent sized power supply with a fan, especially not a 140mm fan, you’d possibly just be able to get a 120mm fan in there, but after all the positives of the case so far, and I’m willing to look past it.
On the case tray, there’s all the standoff spacing for MATX and ATX, along with many specifically placed rubber grommets for cable management. The rubber grommets themselves don’t feel quite as good quality as I’d hoped, but I’d much rather have lower quality rubber grommets than not at all, such as on the similarly priced HAF912 that I was using at the time as well. Even with the concern of quality, they still function very well and are very well placed. Lastly, the case tray also has a cut out so that when you’re installing large tower coolers (spring loaded etc.) you don’t have to remove the motherboard to do so, which is always a handy and welcome feature.
Lastly, before I get into how a built went with the Fractal Arc, and my opinion upon using the fractal arc, I’d like to talk a little bit more about the stock cooling. As I’ve described, the case comes with a fair amount of 140mm fans. While these fans don’t move much air as per their specs, having used them I’m impressed by their quality and they are literally inaudible as well which is quite desirable, the braiding that has been used for the fans also seems to be quality, as opposed the majority of fans that you tend to get that don’t have any braiding.
Here are the specs of the PC that I used for the inside of the Fractal Arc;
Intel i5 2500k
8GB Corsair 1600MHZ RAM
Asus Maximus IV Gene Z
Thortech 800W Gold Power Efficiency
Asus Direct CU II 6950
Samsung Spinpoint 1TB F3
As you can see, I’ve gone for a fair amount of high end hardware for what I’d consider a moderately priced case given what it offers.
Building inside this case was an absolute breeze. Starting with the hard drive mounting, It wasn’t annoying or clunky in the slightest, it was the simple act of placing the hard drive on the bay, lining up the holes and screw in the anti-vibration screws and then slotting in place, very simple, haven’t a complaint to make.
The optical drive was as it always is, a little annoying to get in correctly at first, but then just a matter of lining up the holes, and screwing in, nothing particularly impressive, or difficult.
The motherboard onto the motherboard tray, again, as always was, however when it came to cable management, due to the well placed grommets, everything was very smooth and sleek, very tidy, no cables going all over the place and looking unsightly. Due to the board being an MATX board, I was able to fit the Fpanel cables under the graphics card (Which I had hanging over the motherboard) so they weren’t visible.
I was very pleased to see that the cooler, albeit it’s a big one, had quite a lot of space left in the Fractal Arc case, with even the possibility of being able to fit a fan on the side panel without any conflict with the cooler, which is quite a positive as I’ve seen many cases have an issue with tall coolers and side panel fans.
Installing the graphics card ran into a small problem due to the Maximus IV Gene Z and the cooler that I was using. The fan mounting system sticks out and was touching the graphics cards PCB which would have likely ended in a short, this was rectified by moving the graphics card into the second lane, and this wouldn’t be a common issue however. The upside of this was that it covered up where the Fpanel cables would go, resulting in it looking even tidier. Another thought on the graphics card installation is that it didn’t require me to remove the hard drive bay, I was impressed by this and surprised and it only highlighted my disappointment in the HAF912 as to install the DC II graphics card, I had to remove the second hard drive bay to accommodate the graphics card.
Installing the power supply was fairly routine, although with the addition of the 4 pads, it meant that I wouldn’t be scratching the power supply with metal to metal contact, so a positive feature that I overlooked.
Once I’d closed the side panels on the case and started her up, I was impressed with the acoustics, the case cooling was very quiet and you could feel the airflow starting from the intake at the front of the case with air coming out of the rear 140mm fan.Overall, with this being the first case that I’ve used from Fractal Design, I got to admit I’m very impressed and wish that I’d gone for a Fractal Design case myself, they seem to be of a very high quality build, completely, superior to the HAF 912 I was also using in practically every way, I would have no hesitations at all in recommending this case to anyone as it was a pleasure to work with.