Introducing the Fractal Design Arc Midi

The more enclosures we get in, the more amazed I am at just how competitive the market is for $99 cases. That market is made only more competitive by younger, hungrier companies like BitFenix and Fractal Design, along with new entries from Corsair and NZXT. In another welcome change of pace, these enclosures tend to be slicker, more streamlined, and less gaudy than the gaming cases of yore while providing oftentimes excellent thermal and acoustic performance. With those things in mind, today we look at our first of hopefully many cases from Fractal Design: the Arc Midi.

I don't mind saying one of the names that keeps getting brought up in our comments is Fractal Design, and even our own Brian Klug has messaged me on Facebook "politely suggesting" I get some of their hardware in. Thankfully the wait is now over, and Fractal Design has decided the best foot to put forward in starting reviews with AnandTech is the Arc Midi. Having played with it, I can see why.

Fractal Design Arc Midi Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 2x 5.25" (one 5.25"-to-3.5" converter included)
Internal 8x 3.5"/2.5"
Cooling Front 1x 140mm intake fan; 1x 140mm fan mount
Rear 1x 140mm exhaust fan
Top 1x 140mm exhaust fan; 2x 120/140mm fan mounts
Side 1x 140/180mm fan mount
Bottom 1x 120/140mm fan mount
Expansion Slots 7+1
Front I/O Port -
Top I/O Port 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, mic and headphone jacks
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearance 11.4" with drive cage/18.5" without (Expansion Cards), 180mm (CPU HSF), 270mm (PSU)
Weight 22.05 lbs. (10 kg)
Dimensions 20.28" x 9.06" x 18.11" (515mm x 230mm x 460mm)
Price Online starting at $99

Not mentioned but also included is a separate fan controller supporting up to three fans that fits into one of the expansion slots. I was a little bit on the fence about testing with the controller, but it was included with the case and ultimately there's no real reason not to.

In and Around the Fractal Design Arc Midi
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  • beginner99 - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    I'm quiet surprised about the noise. I'm not sure that buying new fans helps much. i have the fractal R2 and those fans are inaudible, ok they don't have very good air flow but still. The noise comes from the GPU and probably cpu cooler and not the case fans and hence replacing them will mainly help improve cooling.
    But then if you want quiet you would not buy this case anyway.
  • Iketh - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    For some reason, this article got me thinking about tiptronic fans... what happened to them?? I can't find in google searches
  • Kepe - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    I strongly recommend you guys at Anandtech check out and review the Define R3. The internal and external layouts are pretty much identical despite differing aesthetics on the outside. What the R3 has over the Arc Midi, though, is noise insulation all over the case. It also has removable noise insulation pieces for those fan intakes and exhausts that are not occupied by a fan. This way you can choose to have a VERY quiet case, or a very well ventilated case that is still quite quiet.

    I have the R3 with 2 intake fans in the front, 1 intake fan at the bottom and 1 exhaust fan at the back. This creates a nice overpressure that ensures there is minimal dust build-up in the case. When idling, the computer is very quiet. So quiet in fact, that when I come home from somewhere, I can't even hear if the thing is turned on or off (I have a small 1 room apartment). Also the thermals are astonishing. My Gigabyte GTX 560 Ti runs at 34 degrees Celsius when idle, and never reaches 75 degrees Celsius in Furmark.

    The Define R3 cost me 75€ here in Finland (and we have huge taxes on everything), so I think it should be in the same exact price range as the Arc Midi.
  • barry spock - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    Yes, similarly I have the define mini. It has a lot of the same components as the arc here. For me the rubber access grommits did come loose, but apart from that I quite like it.
  • Cyleo - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    Seriously, I've been waiting for this to be reviewed by Anand. I've had a hard time choosing between the R3, Carbide 400R and this one for a couple of weeks now and been hoping Anand would at least review one of them (your reviews can be a real dealbreaker for me). It didn't make my choose any easier, I still love the design of the fractal's and Anand hasn't reviewed the R3 (yet?) but I have some new arguments now. Any tips/suggestions from the other good chaps around here?
  • Kepe - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    As I mentioned in my post above yours, I would definitely recommend the R3. It has the same layout but with very good noise insulation (even on the side panel fan mount) that lets you decide how exactly the air circulates in your case. But I do recommend at least 1 extra intake fan with the R3. With stock cooling, performance isn't that great. It's not bad, but it isn't industry-leading either.
  • hechacker1 - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    I agree.

    I also have the R3, and the stock fan configuration can be lacking depending on your needs.

    1. If you populate all the hard drive bays (it makes an excellent RAID box case), you will need another fan in the front.

    2. If you have a hot chipset, you will either need a bottom or side panel mounted fan. My X58 chipset was crashing due to heat in the summer (110F outside), and putting on a low noise side panel fan solved the issue.

    3. It's default configuration is damn near silent compared to the ambient noise. You could significantly improve it buying a few higher quality low noise fans. And this is on a gaming PC/RAID box config. I can hear the hard drives over the fans.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    I just requested the R3, but I have a pretty hefty backlog of cases to review still.

    Honestly without knowing about the R3, between the 400R and the Arc Midi it's a tough call. I think I'd probably lean toward the Arc Midi, but I'd definitely populate the side vents with low-speed intake fans.
  • Kepe - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    Personally, I don't like side intake fans. A friend of mine actually installed a side intake fan to his rig, but all it did was raise the GPU temperature. This might have something to do with airflow and turbulence messing up the airflow to the GPU fan. Of course the placement of the side panel cutout for the fan affects this too. I don't remember the make and model of the case he uses, but it is a 50-70€ gaming case from a well-known manufacturer.

    If you want more airflow for the GPU, it's at least worth a shot to install a fan to the bottom of the case.
  • Z Throckmorton - Friday, October 7, 2011 - link

    If your friend has an intake fan at the front of the case towards the bottom, tell him to try that lower side fan as an exhaust rather than as an intake. IME that lowers GPU temperatures.

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