The system cases from Fractal Design having similar disk racks, the only exceptions being the Define R3 which lacks a detachable section and the Define XL with a double-row bottom rack, we want to check out different places for our hard disks.
As a rule, we try to place HDDs as close to preinstalled fans as possible and we did so with three HDDs in the Core 3000 and Define XL. However, the fourth HDD was put into the most distant bay from the fan.
Why did we choose these two system cases? The actively cooled rack of the Core 3000 accommodates only three disks and we were interested to compare the temperature of these well-cooled HDDs with that of the most distant HDD.
As for the Define XL, we were curious to watch the behavior of an HDD in the most distant bay that lacked active cooling. This is important since six out of the Define XL’s 10 disk bays are in that rack.
The disk rack was oriented lengthwise in the Arc as opposed to the other system cases whose rack can be turned around.
You can check out the positioning of the HDDs using the photos of the assembled systems above. We tested the system cases in the same way as they are shown there.
The tests were carried out at the minimum and maximum speed of the fans connected to the speed controller included with each system case. The minimum speed differed between the system cases despite the identical fans. And, as noted above, we had to manually find the lowest speed with the Arc because its fans wouldn’t start up with the controller’s knob set to its minimum.
Fan Rotation Speed: Low
Let’s compare the system cases at the minimum speed of the fans.
Fractal Design Core 3000 (low)
Being the simplest in design, the Core 3000 is good in terms of the CPU and chipset temperature and not too bad in terms of the HDD temperature.
We can note that the middle HDD in the top rack and the HDD in the bottom rack, which is as far from the cooling fan as possible, have the same temperature. This must be due to the accumulated heat from the other two HDDs in the top rack. Moreover, the foam-rubber dust filter of the front fan weakens the air flow, especially at low speeds.
Fractal Design Arc (low)
The more expensive and roomier Arc is somewhat worse than the Core 3000 in terms of the chipset temperature, but keeps the temperature of the HDDs at a lower level (the middle disks are warmer when idle compared to the Core 3000, but become colder than in the Core 3000 at the maximum disk subsystem load). This might be expected since the front filter doesn’t hinder the air flow and the rack is oriented in such a way as to cause less resistance to it, too.
The Arc is roughly comparable to the Core 3000 in terms of the CPU and graphics card temperature.
Fractal Design Define R3 (low)
The Define R3 is inferior to the two previous products in cooling, except for the HDDs.
Fractal Design Define XL (low)
The larger front and rear fans coupled with an added 180mm top fan do not help the Define XL much in comparison with its junior cousin. Although the temperatures are lower overall, the CPU has the highest temperature among all the tested products under high load.
The HDD installed separately from the others into the bottom rack is but slightly hotter than the HDDs in the top rack with active cooling, but we are not sure the results are going to be the same if all of the six bottom disk bays are filled with devices.
The following diagrams compare the system cases at the minimum speed of their fans: