Fractal Design Core 3500 Case Final Thoughts
The Fractal Design Core 3500 case is a non-compromise stripped down version of the more expensive options from Fractal Design. It does have some small changes like the front cover which is more aggressive, something we have never seen from Fractal Design but yet we think fits correctly with the rest of this case. The fact that fractal Design can deliver such a good value really leads to the question, what can they bring to the table at a higher price level?
There are still some corrections to be made, such as being able to rotate the hard drive cages for better airflow. We would also like to see this case in other colors, as it is only available in a matte black. The two biggest problems we encountered are a very short HD Audio cable, as well as a very awkward position for the fan controller. In the future we would prefer to see the fan controller placed on the front I/O panel or in the back of the motherboard tray, as well as compatibility with 4-pin fans.
Fractal Design Core 3500 Case Conclusion
The Fractal Design Core 3500 is a good performer in the cooling section. Along with the 6 fan slots, three 140 mm fans, and support for CPU coolers with up to 180mm you should already have enough cooling for most builds. The metal mesh found on the angled edges of the front panel are more than enough to provide front intake airflow. If you plan on water cooling the Fractal Design Core 3500 provides support for one slim 240/280mm radiator on the top and if you move the hard drive cage, you will find support for most 240/280mm radiators in the front.
Aesthetically the Fractal Design Core 3500 gave us a surprise with a somewhat aggressive look that we were not expecting. However, the case is more than stylish, mostly because of the beautiful aluminum finish found on the front and the tinted window which are both signatures from Fractal Design. The paint finish around the case is also great, it seems well done unlike some of the competitor cases. We did find a problem regarding the fan controller location and the length of the cables, however this was easily corrected by using cable extensions.
If we could pick a reason to describe the success of Fractal Design is the quality of their work. Not only do they make good looking and functional cases, but they also make sure to make each of their cases a solid piece of art. The Fractal Design Core 3500 is no exception, the full steel body did not show any signs of weakness, not even the windowed panel. The drive cages were sturdy and did not rattle.
Regarding functionality, the Fractal Design Core 3500 is able to do as expected with some small sacrifices. It is possible to mount three graphics card inside, however the bottom two would be restricted to only 295mm of length if you do not remove the hard drive cage. If you do remove the hard drive cage, there are two 2.5″ drive slots found in the back of the motherboard tray. When you factor in the included 3 x 140mm fans, the fan controller, and the rubber grommets these are things that are not easily found on cases at this price point.
This year we have seen companies taking a more competitive approach. We have seen manufacturers from the likes of Phanteks, Corsair, and others release premium cases at very low prices. However, Fractal Design does not stay behind, specially with the release of the case we just reviewed. Selling for $89.99 (Newegg l Amazon) online, I consider the Fractal Design 3500 to offer great value.
If you are looking for a Mid Tower case, we highly recommend you look into Fractal Design’s newest line-up. Maybe the 3500 is not for you, but I am pretty sure you might find the other options compelling. However, if you are not planning to build a crazy water-cooled build the Fractal Design Core 3500 is stylish, well constructed and offers a really good value.
+ Outstanding quality
+ Included fan controller
+ 3 x 140 mm fans included
+ Tinted side-panel
+ Great cooling compatibility
+ Quality rubber grommets
- HD-Audio cable is too short
– Fan controller location is not optimal
– Hard drive cage can not be rotated