Today we are talking about the latest releases from Fractal - the new airflow focused case, called Torrent, which also features new 180mm fans. It seems good on paper with its 5 included fans and certainly looks the part, but is it any good? Let’s cover what you get for your money and what it is like to build it.
The cases from Fractal Design are known for their clean design, and Torrent is no exception. It is a full size tower case supporting up to E-ATX or SSI-EEB motherboards. It has a very aggressive Y shaped front grill and tempered glass panels on both sides, or if you wish there is also an option with steel panels. Our particular model is a non-RGB variant, but Fractal does offer that option as well. Torrent is certainly larger than your average case, it is tall and pretty wide (dimensions (LxWxH) 544 x 242 x 530 mm), especially considering it does not have a separate large compartment at the back for your power supply and hard drives. The dual tempered glass version weighs in just shy of 19 kg.
In the box we find the case itself, a box for accessories which includes the GPU anti-sag bracket, as well as a special adapter for the front fans. This adapter allows you to remove two 180mm fans and replace them with 3 120mm or 140mm ones. The only reason I would recommend doing this is if you intend to place a large radiator in that position.
While we are on the subject of fans and radiators - as mentioned earlier this case comes with 5 pre-installed fans: two 180mm at the front and three 140mm at the bottom. The only position available for an extra fan is at the back. Here you can install a 120 or 140mm fan. The case has two filters - one at the front and one at the bottom, and it’s nice to see that both are pretty easy to remove.
At the back there is a PWM fan hub supporting up to 9 fans that can be controlled using one header from the motherboard.
This is where I would have liked it to be a bit more smart with some sort of software support, as currently any changes reflect on all the fans at the same time. Another thing I would have liked is to have all the fan cables pre-wired to help with cable routing out of the box, unfortunately they are not.
As far as radiators are concerned, there is enough and possibly more than you would ever need. You can fit up to 420mm radiator at the front and at the bottom, as well as up to 140mm radiator at the back.
This case has pretty good support for custom water cooling too. It actually has reservoir support as well as an integrated fill port to keep the whole system neat. There are actually three fill ports to cover different tube sizes. Let us know in the comments below if you would like us to build a full water cooling loop in this case.
Moving on to the front IO - here we have microphone and headphone ports, power and reset switches with the integrated power LED and three USB ports. Two USB type A and one type C Gen 2 port with max speed of 10 gigabit per second. I like how they have spaced out the USB type A ports, we use pretty large SD card readers which always interfere, and with this case they fit just fine.
To open the case there are little push tabs at the top. The actual mechanism is latching and does not require any bolts, but if you are like me - you can secure them down using screws anyway.
When we look inside, we immediately see a slightly different design for the internals. In this case PSU is stored at the top, which is the reason we have such great fan support.
A word of caution - in this build I have a sound card at the bottom and it needs power, the cable just about reaches across so make sure you have long enough cables or invest in some cable extensions.
There was another thing I wish Fractal could improve on in the next iteration of this case - there are a few holes to route the cables down the bottom, these are great for general fan and IO cables but are just a little to small for the power cables so you have to route them through the side holes, it is not a big deal but would prefer having more options considering this is a premium case.
Flipping the case around we find where all the drives live. There are two removable caddies for the 3.5 inch drives - these have a nice bit of dampening and are very easy to remove. There are also four dedicated 2.5 inch drive mounting locations to the left so you can certainly load this puppy up.
While we are at the back, might as well cover the cable management - there are 6 velcro straps that cover most of the requirements, as well as 16 additional tie down points.
I personally did a quick and dirty job with the velcros and it looks good enough, but should you have more cables from extra drives or RGB, I am sure the extra tie down points will come in handy.
The velcro straps on the outside of the case are pretty cool, it is certainly a nice touch considering the power supply is at the top so you can neatly run all the cables out of sight.
The build itself was pretty straightforward: you start with the power supply, then motherboard and all the components. I do appreciate the motherboard screw holes being labeled based on motherboard size. Also, while mounting PCIe devices I noticed that there are no borders between them, this is really nice as some cases have slight issues with tolerances and you end up with GPU ports being covered, which is a pain.
I mentioned this before but if you have a large and heavy graphics card - this case has an included GPU anti-sag bracket. If you are a fan of mounting the graphics card vertically then you can separately order the Flex B-20 riser kit.
There are a few considerations to take into account - first and most important would be: PCI-E ports and do you actually need them? This bracket completely covers all expansion ports so if you are like me who uses add-in cards - you will have to choose between a vertically mounted GPU or more than 1 PCI-E device.
Another thing to bear in mind would be PCI-E generation of the cable. Flex B-20 riser kit is using PCIE gen 3. It is not really a bandwidth problem yet as current cards on the market are just about able to saturate existing PCI-E Gen 3 lanes, but it will be an issue in the future.
Separately I’ve had issues with some other systems not posting properly when using a PCIe gen 4 graphics card. If you find yourself in such a situation - plug in the GPU directly and change in BIOS the PCIE port generation from Auto to 3, then test again.
When going with an air-cooling build like this, you realise the case is pretty wide, there is plenty of space for any kind of air cooler - providing it stays below 188mm in height.
Once everything is built, we set-up a few tests to see how good its cooling is and how loud it actually gets. We loaded it up with Ryzen 9 3900XT, as well as RX 6700 XT and ran Cinebench R20 on loop as well as Furmark to really generate a lot of heat. Our room temperature is 28 degrees Celsius, with the room noise floor of 35 dBa.
We measured the noise levels of the PC at 50cm away which is about how far it would normally be from the typical user. At idle it did not go above the room noise floor of 35dBa and at full load it reached 51 dBa.
That is pretty well managed, and as the front fans are larger than usual they make a much lower pitch noise which is not as annoying. We tested this with GPU mounted in standard and vertical position just to find exactly the same results.
Which leads us well into the second part of this test - actual performance. Do you gain or lose from using the vertical mount? First we check the frequencies and here we see both CPU and GPU are performing the same. On the other hand when we look at the thermals we see a slight shift on the GPU side. Mounting it in a vertical position actually reduces its temperature between 3 and 4 degrees which is a nice little bump.
To close this off - I am pretty impressed with this case. It was pretty enjoyable to build in and there are a lot of small details that leave a good impression. I wish the fans were pre-wired, with cables hidden away. Also it would’ve been nice if there was some sort of way to control fans individually but other than that, if you are on the market for a large premium case - this one looks cool and actually performs really well.