The front panel seems simple enough but it is well made. Finishing touches are great and although the panel has a mirror finish, there aren’t that many reflections.
What you see on the picture are the plastic doors coated with aluminum film. Truth be told, the photos don’t do it much justice as it looks much better live.
A light tug on the top-right part of the front panel will open the door, which opens to the left and cannot be flipped. Behind the door is a stock 12cm fan with additional room for another one. The front panel door has no holes on it so the fans draw air from holes on the sides.
The door has a layer of foam attached to it from the inside. As for the side panels, Fractal Design opted on harder and thinner material for sound isolation, in order not to waste space inside the case.
The door is held in place by strong magnets.
You can reach the front panel fan easy by opening the additional door inside. There’s no need to remove the entire panel in order to mount optical devices. The 5.25’’ covers can be removed easily, but you should take care in order not to break them. We applied a bit too much force and managed to break one clip.
Define R3 comes with only two 5.25’’, but most users won’t need any more than that. In fact, we tend to hear about problems with lack of room for 3.5’’ drives much more than for 5.25’’ devices. Define R3 not only offers eight 3.5’’ slots by default, you can also turn one 5.25’’ slot into a 3.5’’ via the included adapter. Note that all the 3.5’’ are made to hold 2.5’’ drives as well.
The front panel fan isn’t attached directly to the chassis, but rather in a removable bracket secured with four screws.
The fan holder is made of plastic and functions as a filter at the same time. We really liked this concept as users can clean the fan as well while cleaning the filter.
Define R3 Black Pearl comes stocked with two fans. The second fan is on the rear panel. Note that both fans run at 1350 rpm.
The reset key is hidden behind the door whereas the power key is on the top panel. Unfortunately, there are no e-SATA connectors but there is a single USB 3.0 (internal connector) and two USB 2.0 ones. In the centre of the panel is a LED lamp that glows blue when the computer is on.
You probably noticed that Define R3 Black Pearl has two fan holes on the top panel, but a closer look reveals they are sealed from the inside. These two holes are there in case you decide to add more fans (120/140mm).
Many users like their cases silent so Fractal Design sealed all unused holes on top and side panels and called it ModuVent. In other words, if you want maximum performance, take the foam off and throw some fans in.
Fan controllers are usually placed on the front panel, but the foam inside the door prevented us from mounting our Scythe fan controller. This means that you’ll either have to resort to digital fan controllers or cut up some foam. Naturally, it’s much simpler to use the provided fan controller, which goes into expansion slots on the rear panel.