Review: Fractal Design XL R2 PC Case
Packaging and Design
Fractal Design has become one my favorite PC case designers in recent memory. Why? Because they build extremely sturdy cases with tons of room, features and cooling at a fair price. The XL R2 continues that tradition but adds even more space, features and a ModuVent design to balance between cooling and noise reduction. Once again, Fractal's packaging is rock solid and sturdy. I had no issues with any of the material, components or accessories while unpacking this case. I was amazed at how large this case was but how light the backend really was. Props to Fractal for such quality engineering. The front is slick and slick as we tested the Black Pearl (arrrrr matey!) model of the XL R2. The front door covers up your components well and is very thick in order to dampen sound from inside the case. In fact, the whole case was thick and sturdy for that noise reduction that works oh so well. Continuing their tradition, Fractal has made a ton of room availble in this case with two adjustable HDD cages that I absolutely love. Also, the cable management system has so many nooks and crannies, you'd be hard pressed to not have a place to stick your wires and mess. The entire case is a pinnacle of engineering that is tough to beat. That being said, I do find the design a bit plain, too plain in fact. Minimalists will have a hay day but I do prefer a tad bit more bling if you will. I don't want something that looks like a robot but a side window would have been nice.
"All your base are belong to us.."
I love options. I love having options between cooling and silence. I love the XL R2. There are so many choices on what to do with this case, it's quite daunting. Between the seven fan locations (three are included), the ModuVent options, locations for water cooling and a ton of space inside, this is a modders dream. When all the noise dampening options are in place, this case is almost completely silent. It was so silent, we had to open up the case to make sure the computer was even running! Also, even with the stock fans, the Fractal XL R2 is extremely cool. I can't imagine loading this puppy up with all seven fans. Nerd drool. Not only is it as silent or cool as your want to make, or even a balance of the two, there are a ton of connectivity options including front audio, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 all on the front of the panel. They are all there without being gaudy or instrusive on the sleek looks of this case. On expanding components of this case, the HDD cages are easily removed, adjusted or tweaked for your video card and storage needs. I love how flexible this case is and haven't seen anything as solid and flexible as this case in the available price range.
There are a ton of PC cases in the ~$125 USD range. Some of them look like cheap 60's robots. Some look like Christmas trees lit up with 100 LEDs. Some are a great value. I don't think anything compares to the XL R2 as far as build quality and solid design goes, especially if you prefer minimalistic looks and a no frills, bang for your buck balance between cooling and noise reduction. There are so many features and options in this case, it really could compare to a case twice the cost. So, if you are a modder, PC gamer or anyone who needs a lot of room in their case, do not hesitate in picking up the XL R2. I have yet to have any issues with ANY Fractal Design case and this is one of the nicest cases I have seen from them. You can check out more info, specs and features at Fractal's product page HERE
While the minimalistic and plain design may throw some buyers off, others may embrace that design with passion. For me, I think while the design and performance is incredible, there needs to be a bit more flair added to the case, especially the inclusion of a side window. Either way, this is an incredibly silent case that is solid, well designed and keeps cool. You'd be hard pressed to find more quality case at this price.