The Fractal Design Arc Midi
In the past few years I have experienced great things in the USA that came from Sweden. I have read the "Millennium series" with the first book, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and have seen the movies. I have also enjoyed "Let the Right One In" as well, both the book and movie. Both series are thought provoking pros and pieces of cinema. Many also enjoy the products of Ikea. Why, you may ask, do I bring up these items in a computer case review? Because I am being introduced to another item made in Sweden for the first time. Fractal Design, a Swedish computer component company, states on their page they are "to provide products with an extraordinary design level, without compromising the important factors of quality, functionality and pricing." Today I will be looking at the Arc Midi model so let's see if it will meet the lofty expectations preceded by other imports from Sweden.
The Fractal Design Midi Tower (FD-CA-ARC-BL) claims to make its own niche in the PC builders' world. The merging of cooling options, high performance, and Fractal's known minimalistic looks makes this an elegant piece. The case comes in black with a nice brushed metallic look. No other color options are available. The Fractal Design Arc is designed for the PC enthusiasts looking for a minimalistic look. Other novice builders or corporate computer builders may enjoy this mid-tower. The mid-tower case comes with a 1 year limited warranty. The case is a steel chassis with plastic components. Fractal Design support says they will cover warranty replacement parts (doors, fans, fan controller, etc.) but not the chassis itself. The Fractal Design Arc Midi is available at Newegg for $99.99 plus $9.99 shipping.
Fractal Design notified me of a video from newegg.com that goes into detail about the Arc Midi that you can see below.
Fractal Design Arc Midi Features:
- Stylish, minimalistic front panel with alu-look
- Optimized for performance, massive cooling and water cooling support
- A total of 8(!) fan slots (2x 140mm in front, 3x 120/140 in top, 1x 120/140 in bottom, 1x 120/140 in rear, 1x 140/180mm in side panel)
- 3x 140mm fans included (1x in front, 1x in rear and 1x in top)
- Support for dual 120mm radiator in top, even thicker radiators up to 60mm in thickness
- 8x white painted HDD trays, with silicone mounting
- Upper HDD cage is removable and rotatable
- USB3 support in front panel
- Easily removable front panel with clip on fan slots
- Extra, vertically mounted expansion slot, suitable for fan controllers or non-input expansion cards
- Fan controller for 3 fans included
- 1 front mounted Fractal Design 140mm fan @ 1000rpm included
- 1 top mounted Fractal Design 140mm fan @ 1000rpm included
- 1 rear mounted Fractal Design 140mm fan @ 1000rpm included
- Additional 5 fan slots available for optional fans; one 140mmin front, one 120/140mm in bottom, two 120/140mm in top and one 140/180mm in side panel
- Top panel can mount either 3x 120mm fans, 3x 140mm fans or 1x 180mm + 1x 120/140mm fans
Fractal Design Arc Midi Addition Features:
- 8x 3.5 inch HDD trays, compatible with 2.5" SSDs
- 2x 5.25 inch bays, with 1x 5.25x3.5 inch converter included
- On top of front panel: 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0 and Audio I/O
- No PSU included (removable filter below PSU)
- M/B compatibility: Mini ITX, Micro ATX and ATX
- 7+1 expansion slots with sleek white painted brackets
- Supports graphic card lengths up to 290mm when removable HDD-Bay is in place
- Supports graphic card lengths up to 470mm without removable HDD-Bay
- Supports CPU coolers with height of 180mm
- Supports PSU's with a depth of maximum circa 170mm, when using bottom 120/140mm fan location. When not using the bottom 120/140mm fan location, the case supports also longer PSU's, typically 270mm
- Case size (WxHxD): 230x460x515mm with front and top bezel in place
- Net weight: 10kg
Retail Box & Packaging
It's easy to say that packaging needs to be secure to make sure your PC case is received without breaking. Well, Fractal Design did a fine job of keeping their product secure when it was shipped to me for reviewing. Secondary will have to be what the packaging shows on the outside. Well, let's just say I'm glad I am reviewing a case that is on a black background instead of the typical brown box.
First, let's take a look at the front of the box. Fractal Design has a nice logo with a snowflake background. The logo has a reflective-like quality with a mirror image just below the main logo. Justified to the top center is also the model name, Arc Computer Case, using the same reflective style. Below, justified right, is a nice front profile shot of the Arc Midi case set on a blue swirling graphic.
The back of the packaging lets us see more detail of the Arc Midi. The top of this side of the box has the same logo and model graphics as the front. Justified to the left and below is an internal look of the Arc Midi pointing out some of the main features. Justified to the right is a top view of the case with more details.
The sides of the box are topped with the Fractal Design snow flake logo. Below the hand hold cut out is the Arc Computer Case graphics. Below the graphic are two sections of bullet points. First is features, and second is specifications.
I blotted out part of the top label graphic due to my address being on top. Each of the two top flaps has the Fractal Design logo and Arc Computer Case graphic, respectively.
So did the case arrive okay? It sure did! The case was in typical Styrofoam that did not break apart when taken out of the case. The case was in a plastic bag. Also, the manual was tucked in the main box, not inside the case itself.
The accessories pack was secured nicely in the Hard Drive cage under the bottom caddy. The first thing I noticed was on the outside of the box all of the contents are listed. All possible screws are there. Some other nice little touches are the included screw driver/wrench, fan controller, and external bay bezel size converter.
Here is a look at some of the accessories included:
Metal brushing has become popular in the design of both notebook and desktop designs in the past couple of years. Fractal Design has set up the Arc midi to also take on this look. There is also something a little different with the brush look. It is actually plastic made to look like brushed aluminum. To me, at some angles the case front looks like black lacquer over wood grain. But either way it looks fine.
The front panel of the case is exactly what Fractal design claims, minimalistic. The Fractal Design name is front and center at the top. Two 5.25" bays follow underneath the logo. The rest of the length of the case is a honey comb style bezel. This bezel covers room enough to place two case fans; one is already installed.
The top of the case continues the minimalist look. Honey comb dominates the top of the case from the rear all the way to the front I/O panel. There is a preinstalled case fan just below the honey comb bezel. It appears to almost look like a filter below the honey comb. Two thumb screws can be removed from the back to remove the top bezel and filter.
The I/O ports have quite a bit of functionality for this mid-tower. One USB 3.0 port and two additional USB 2.0 ports are on the top. The power button is in the middle with a light on it also showing hard drive activity. Rounding out the top panel are the conventional audio ports and the reset button. After opening up the case you will see the USB 3.0 is direct to motherboard access, not a pass through to the rear ports.
The primary side of the case sports a honey comb mounting point for an additional fan (140mm or 180mm) and cooling support. Thumb screws are used to secure the side to the Arc midi case. A location was added to the side for pulling it off when needing to remove the door, which is a nice touch.
The secondary side is without the honey comb mounting for cooling. Everything else is identical to the primary side.
On the back side of the case is the first we see of contrast. The rear I/O port seems typical. The rear case fan we see is white, adding contrast to the black of the case. The card expansion slots on the back are also in white. An eighth vertical slot is located here, too. This is here for the case fan controller packed with the case. The final slot is for the power supply at the bottom. You will also see a lip at the bottom for pulling a filter.
Finally, on the bottom is a large cleanable filter that can be pulled out. This is a nice help for air flow and helping with the power supply. Four discs that have rubber in the middle are set for feet. The feet have a metallic look on the outside. Also a sticker with the product number and serial number is on the bottom.
Interior ThoughtsThe Fractal Design Arc Midi Computer Case, of course, has an interior. At first look at the internals there looks to be a good amount of space for installing air flow and a cooling option. The white internal components give a nice contrast to the black steel internal part of the case. No flashy LED lights are installed nor are needed in the mid-tower.
The alternate side also is set up very nicely. The first thing I noticed is how well Fractal Design feeds the front port cables through the rubber cut out to the inside of the case. There are a total of five of these cut outs for easy wire management. You can also see there is a little depth between the door and the chassis to help hide wires. There is a good size cut out for the motherboard and CPU cooling options. Of course, you can see the color contrast as well for hard drive caddies and fans compared to the chassis.
In a closer look at the drive bays we can see there are two external drive bays secured by thumb screws. That makes for an easy install of an optical drive! We also have eight slots for hard drive. These are divided in two cages of four hard drives. These two cages can be turned around as seen in the two next photographs.
Here we can see that with a turn of a couple of thumb screws we can turn the cage around 90 degrees. This will allow for longer cards to be installed on motherboards. If your PCI-X is in the lower part of the case it is possible to just completely remove the bottom half of the cage. This is great versatility for installing cards at a PC builders own discretion.
I also want to show the drive caddy. I am a big fan of these types of caddies. They are very durable. They can easily be used for conventional or solid states drive. Also I like how Fractal Design is using a contrast in color for the internal components.
The mid-tower case also has nice placement for the motherboard install. No screws are preset but everything you need is in the accessory pack. All wire management ports will frame the outside of most motherboards.
From top to bottom I see functionality with this set up. A 140 mm white case fan is installed on the top. A typical I/O cut out is in the rear. A second white case fan is installed in the back. The rear case fan has a 3 pin power connector. Seven horizontal covers are also installed with thumb screws. An eighth vertical one is installed and is there for the fan controls that come with the accessory pack. Rounding out the back of the case is the spot for the power supply.
Finally on the bottom we can see the power supply will sit on a removable filter. There is also another mounting location for a fan.
The next page is where all the fun comes together. Let's see how the Fractal Design Arc Midi fills out with components.
Installing PC Hardware
Well, now the real fun begins. I have an AMD AM3+ motherboard I will install. In addition I will install an NVIDIA GeForce 460 GTX video card. A modular power supply will round out the install.
The Motherboard installs easily. The I/O plate for the motherboard fits fine. I had to screw in the preset screws for the motherboard. As you can see from the photograph, there is a good amount of room to work with in the mid-tower.
Next installed are the video card and fan controllers. The Nvidia card fits with plenty of room to spare. There is still a good amount of space to route the six pin power connectors to the card. SLI and Crossfire can easily be done with the space in the Arc Midi.
The fan controller is also a nice touch. It fits perfectly in the vertical slot on the back of the machine. There are three, three pin connectors to connect to the fans that are already installed in the case. A molex power connector remains to power the three fans.
The initial wiring in the case was routed very well through the rubber cut outs. As shown in the photograph below, there is plenty of room for more cable management. All locations on this case can easily be managed through the built in wire management ports.
Now for a full view of the installed components. I am aware that the wire management on my part could be better on this install. This is on the PC builder and not Fractal Design. You can still see the flow of the wires from the power supply. The hard drive and optical drive wiring are all flowing through the back of the case to their respective SATA and power connectors. There is plenty of room left for air flow and cooling.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
As mentioned, I am big fan of a lot of things Swedish that have come out over the last few years. Now, is this case the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" of Mid-tower cases? I would not go as far as to say that, but it is a nice case that is available for $99.99 plus shipping at Newegg.
Favorable FeaturesThe Arc Midi easily does its job. It also is very much a good value of features in a minimalistic look of a mid-tower case. I do like how the case is aesthetically clean from the outside. This continued inside by just looking out how the internal wiring was routed through the case. The case had more than enough accessories that came in the accessory box. I like how the fan controller was a separate component that could be installed as well as how it has a screw driver in the box. I love how the internal components were painted white to create a nice contrast to the black chassis. I am a huge fan of the eight white metal drive caddies that support SSD if needed. The 90 degree rotating and removable cage is also a nice feature for longer video cards that I am sure most PC enthusiasts will take advantage of. Of course, USB 3.0 is also included and can link directly up to the motherboard. I also like the removable filter that goes below the power supply. Finally, the fact that it came pre loaded with three case fans can get you started without worrying about extra cooling unless you are looking to over clock immediately. Overall, I would certainly use this case -- not only for a gaming case, but it could work in a corporate environment.
The Less Favorable Parts
There are very few things that I dislike about the Arc Midi. I am a fan of the faux brushed metal look. My laptop happens to be brushed metal. The picture of the case on the box looks fine as a bushed metal look. What a builder should know beforehand is that this is faux brushed metal. It is plastic and designed to look like brushed metal. Although I like the look of the case but I have a hard time describing it as brushed metal. To me it almost looks like black lacquer wood grain. I would have liked to have seen real brushed metal or plating on the front panel. But that is just my opinion. On the inside the only issues I had was with the controls for the fans. Once installed, when I connected the Molex power connector the pins bent. This certainly could be user error and not a manufacturer issue. I would advise a builder to be careful when connecting the Molex connectors to this piece.
I recently did a review on the Corsair Carbide 400R. These two cases are similar in style and function for around the $100 range for mid-tower cases. I have done a couple of Corsair case reviews and know what to expect. In regards to Fractal Design this is my first review of them and I am very happy with the end results. Much like the Corsair I feel the components are solid and are not going to break down as soon as the case is used. So, is this case the work of art that is the story of Lisbeth in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"? Not quite, but it is still a solid entry into the mid-tower case field. I believe Fractal Design is well on its way to making a great foothold of quality in computer components.
Legit Bottom Line: Fractal Design has a winning chassis with the Arc Midi Computer Case. The Swedish company produces a quality product in the grand fashion of many things Swede today.