A Closer Look - Outside
A thin protective plastic film has been placed on the front of the chassis, so you can rest assured that the part is flawless right out of the box. As we got the "Black Pearl" variant, most of the chassis is black. R4's expansion slot covers, hard-drive bays, and fan-blades are, in true Fractal Design fashion, white.
Fractal Design has done a good job of keeping the look of the chassis identical to that of previous generations even if the actual chassis frame has changed considerably. The door still only swings open to the left, but what is hidden behind it is different - more on that in a second.
Taking a closer look at the sides, there is an opening for a fan on the main side-panel. This one comes covered right out of the box. The previous version of the chassis was completely solid on both sides. R4's silent attributes are, thanks to the included sound dampening materials, still as good as the R3, despite the extra option to add a cooling fan.
Another noticeable change to older variants is the design behind the front door. The two separate flaps have been replaced by one large, drop-down cover. While the previous implementation was more elegant, this will do fine as well. Behind the large opening are two spots for 120 mm fans, one of which comes pre-installed. Fractal has placed these fans on a plastic frame that can be removed without the use of any screws. You may also place a 240 mm radiator here instead. A dust filter keeps dirt and grime out of the case, and the whole contraption can be removed easily without the use of any tools. The two external 5.25" drive bays feature easily removable drive covers and have a built-in fan controller sitting to the right of them.
Turning the Define R4 around, it looks much more like the Arc than any previous version of this case family. Starting from the ground up, the PSU bay has been placed on the very bottom. Above the PSU bay are the 7 + 1 expansion slots. That eighth slot is quite handy with the included fan controller. The 140 mm exhaust-fan is above those expansion slots, but Fractal Design has replaced the two holes for water-cooling with a small air vent. Such openings are rarely used nowadays, since those with such a cooling option use internal water-cooling instead.
The I/O in the top edge has been updated and offers a pair of USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 connectors, leaving out an eSATA plug. Towards the rear are two openings for 120/140 mm fans, each closed off by covers with sound dampening material. Such a setup allows for a lot of flexibility with utmost silence, the possibility for water-cooling, and maximum performance.
A dust filter inside the underside of the chassis ensures that no dirt can enter through this part of the enclosure. It is easily removable and can be washed. The cover extends across the entire underside and includes the extra fan-spot.