Summary: One may wonder what the changes to the chassis are at first--when looking at both the Arc Midi and Arc Midi R2 side by side. There are ultimately numerous differences, but some are more obvious than others. The more obvious ones are the R2's side window and the small, stylish logo that replaced the large one. The latter is not only a move to please end users, but clearly also system integrators who may want to replace the smaller company logo with their own, for example.
Pros: Fan controller now built-in, Now with a windowed side panel, Extremely flexible hard-drive cage placement, Subtle logo replaces the large one, Space for eight HDDs, 240 mm radiator fits into ceiling and the front of the chassis, Both 5.25" bays can still be used when installing a 240 mm radiator--just keep things slim and short, Rubber-mounted hard drives, Three 140 mm fans included, Freedom to install 180 mm fans in side and ceiling, Updated USB 3.0 cable with 2.0 le...
Cons: No more 3.5" adapter for external drive bays, Fans not the quietest, Plastic front (pictures may be misleading)
Summary: I had about as much pleasure building around this case compared to those that sells for $149, plenty enough for a case that cost half of other similar cases. Fractal Design did everything you can think so to many, the Arc Midi R2 one of the best cases on the market within such price ranges.
Summary: Before we head deeply into the conclusions, can I just say this: the photos really don't do the overall look in real-life any justice. The ARC MINI R2 is refined, tasteful and feels like it has just the right proportions. And no I won't make any puns on the feminine rounded curvature (oh wait I just did!) at the frontside. As much of the Fractal Design PC cases, it is elegant, simple and definitely feature-rich for a mid-tower chassis.
Conclusion: Fractal's developing a habit of refreshing its chassis without serving up significant upgrades or fresh new ideas. Like the award-winning Define series - which currently stands at revision four - the second-generation Arc Midi R2 revisits a tried-and-trusted design and adds a few small enhancements. Save for the addition of a tinted side window - which you may or may not like - the R2 still looks a lot like its predecessor.
Summary: The updates to the Arc Midi R2 compared to the first generation Arc Midi seem minor at first glance, but are essential and push the Arc Midi from being a great case to being unparalleled at its price point. Often times, compromises by case manufacturers are quite obvious to keep the cost down, but you’d have to look closer and spend a long time with the Arc Midi R2 to see its minor flaws.
Conclusion: One thing Fractal Design does well is presentation. There is a design language at work here that flows through everything they do - even the manual follows suit. I think Fractal Design single-handedly made me a fan (please excuse the pun) of white bladed fans and contrasting looks. While NZXT does this nicely as well, Fractal Design manages it with a subtly powerful design that blends in with any décor.
Pros: Extensive air and water cooling support, Mid-tower size,, Modular drive trays, Tasteful window, Every intake filtered!, Effective use of space, Modern and subtly striking style, Able to accommodate a variety of systems well
Cons: Notched side panels, Could use some more precise tapping of screw holes, Might get a little loud if using high-powered (hotter) components