Review: Older case that still beats newcomers
Fractal Design is a company well known for quality designed and manufactured cases. We've had a chance to try out Fractal Design cases on two occasions, Core 3000 and Define R3, and they've left some good impressions, so let's see whether Arc Midi Tower is capable of doing the same. Arc Midi Tower launched in 2011, but since it's one excellent case, it's never to late to review it.
Product Code: FD-CA-ARC-BL
Dimensions: ( W ) 230 x ( H ) 460 x ( D ) 515 mm
Net Weight: 10 KG
5.25" Drive Bay: 2 x 5,25 inch bays, with 1x 5,25>3,5 inch converter included
3.5” Drive Bay: 8x 3,5 inch HDD trays, compatible with SSD / HDD
2.5” Drive Bay: 8x 3,5 inch HDD trays, compatible with 2.5” SSD/HDD
Fan controller: Fan controller for 3 fans included
Expansion Slots: 7+1 expansion slots with sleek white painted brackets
I/O Panel: On top of front panel: 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0 and Audio I/O
Motherboard Type: Mini ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX
Power Supply Type: Standard ATX PS2 / EPS 12V, No PSU included (removable filter below PSU)
Maximum Compatibility: CPU cooler height: 180 mm,
GPU card length: 290 mm (when removable HDD-Bay is in place)
Front: 140 mm fan x1 (1000 RPM), 140mm fan x1 (optional)
Top: 140 mm fan x1 (1000 RPM), 120/140 mm fan x2 (optional)
Rear: 140 mm fan x1 (1000 RPM)
Bottom: 120/140 mm fan (optional)
Side: 140/180 mm fan (optional)
The case comes with a fan controller capable of handling three fans.
At a glance, Arc Midi Tower seems shorter than it is, most likely because the front panel only shows two 5.25'' bays and a mesh. That the mesh isn't small is clear from the fact it hides two 14cm fan slots. One fan comes mounted while the second one is optional. Arc Midi Tower is 460mm tall and 230mm wide.
The front panel is made of quality plastics, but is made to look aluminum-like, which the company did pretty well. For whatever reason, the finishing texture also reminded us of wood.
Other than the fact we'd rather have 5.25'' covers that are removable without taking the front panel off, we can't complain about the finishing touches and functionality. Taking off the panel is a breeze - a tug at the bottom will do. Fractal Design logo is engraved in the panel but it's nice and subtle so it makes the front panel look much better.
The control panel is on the top of the case and holds a single USB 3.0 connector, two USB 2.0 connectors, audio In\Out, power and reset keys. Fractal Design used similar mesh with wider holes for the front and top panels.
The fan is easy to take off since it's only fixed with latches. The second fan, if you choose to throw it in, uses the same method.
The control panel on the top of the front panel doesn't take up 5.25''' bays nor does it take up precious room on the top panel. We have seen many cases using the same placement but we can easily say Fractal Design is one of the pioneers of this design.
The front and top panels have foam filters that aren't intended to be taken off.
Most dust usually comes off the floor, so it's a good thing that the company used a classic mesh filter than can be easily taken out for cleaning, without having to open the case.
The feet come with antivibration pads.
As far as side panels go, the design is classic. The left panel can take a 140mm or 180mm intake fan, while the right panel has no holes. Both panels are fixed with thumb screws and taking them off is as easy as putting them back on. The panels are made of steel and are very tough.
The top panel is made entirely of mesh. Users tend to keep random things on a case and it's possible in this case as well since the panel is flat and the mesh is tough enough. Of course, that won't help much if you spill something.
The top panel houses a 140mm fan, but there is extra room for two additional 120\140mm fans. The top panel can be removed after unscrewing two screws at the end of the panel that keep it in place.
The top panel will take a dual 120mm radiator (up to 60mm thick). Top of the rear panel houses two holes for external watercooling.
With width of 230mm, Arc Midi is one of the widest mid tower cases around. That of course is a good thing since it will take pretty much any large CPU cooler. Maximum allowed CPU cooler height is 180mm.
The rear panel is characteristic for the white expansion slots. Fractal Design's cases are usually recognizable for black-white contrasts, which is the case with interior as well. Namely, the case uses white fans and fan brackets. Apart from seven horizontal expansion slots, Arc Midi has another vertical one, which can be used for the bundled fan controller.
The PSU goes in the bottom of the case and the dust filter can easily be removed.
The interior is well designed and packs plenty of room. Fractal Design painted parts of the case white, which we really like.
The case will take just any graphics card from the current generations without having to take the HDD cage out. Only the cards such as GTX 690 and a few other ones longer than 290mm will require you to take the HDD cage out. By taking it out, users will get up to 440mm of room. The bottom HDD cage is fixed and cannot be removed.
The cable management holes are wide and more cables can be routed through the same hole. Fractal Design made sure to make the hole closest to the PSU the widest one, which is good since most cabling comes from there. The grommets are tough and won't fall out easily. The company left two holes near the top of the motherboard tray, which are intended for CPU power and cooling power cables. There are two cable management holes because CPU power isn't always at the end of the board.
If the company included a few more anchors, cable management in the back would've been easier. There is about 21mm of space for cabling below the rear panel.
All the cables coming from the I\O panel are sleeved. The blue cable is the USB 3.0 one, and we're talking about a cable with an internal USB 3.0 that's most commonly found on boards.
The CPU backplate cutout was compatible with all the boards we've tried.
The front panel will take two fans. One of them comes with the case and, as you can see from the picture, is positioned to cool the top HDD cage. If you throw in the other fan, it will help with cooling of the bottom HDD cage.
If you need to mount a 3.5'' device in one of the 5.25'', you can use the included converter. We found it mounted in the first 5.25'' slot, fixed with two screws on each side, see pictures below and above.
The HDD cage can be removed by unscrewing two screws. Note that all the screws in the Arc Midi Tower are thumb screws. This usually means you don't have to use tools, but some of them were screwed in so tight that we had to use tools. Note however that this is barely a problem, since we had to do a similar thing with pretty much any case we tested.
We're no strangers to Fractal Design's brackets - the Arc Midi uses a tried and true design that is tough and uses anti-vibration pads. Each of the 3.5'' drives will take 2.5'' drives as well. These brackets require specially designed screws, which are also included.
The screws on expansion slots are also thumb screws, so no need for tools.
All of the three mounted fans have 3-pin connectors and can be controlled via the controller bundled with the Arc Midi. The eight, vertical slot is a great place for the fan controller. The fans aren't loud when running at their maximum of 1000RPM, but you can use the controller to make them even quieter.
The Arc Midi will take another five fans, on top of the three fans that come with the case. The bottom panel will take a 120\140mm fan. The holes on the bottom panel have dust filters.
We're not particularly fond of such miniature PSU stands. Still, at least the rubber pads stayed in their case. The foam around the PSU hole is a nice touch as well.
Quality keeps the price up and the Arc Midi Tower proves that. You can find the Arc Midi priced between 75 and 80 euro. The Arc Midi Tower has everything new-generation cases should have, but the looks and quality finishing are what we liked the most about this case.
First of all, the price isn't exaggerated and the quality and design definitely make it worth it. In fact, the Arc Midi definitely stands out in this price range.
Arc Midi comes with three silent 14cm fans. The fans can be controller with the included fan controller, which can run three fans simultaneously. The case will take another five fans and if you want water cooling, you can use a dual 120mm radiator on the top panel. Note that the radiator thickness is limited to 60mm.
The Arc Midi Tower will take CPU coolers up to 18cm in length and any currently available graphics card. It's possible to use eight internal 3.25''\2.25 drivers, but there are only two 5.25'' slots.
So, Fractal Design has once again proved that it makes quality cases. The Arch Midi Tower is obviously no exception and you definitely won't go wrong if you opt for it.