Would it be fair to say that Fractal Design is on something of a hot streak? Despite having been around since 2007, the Swedish manufacturer has in recent years developed a habit of releasing one award-winning product after another, and would be high on our list of candidates when picking out a new chassis, cooler or power supply.
It is nice to see a manufacturer hit its stride, and though the pressure is on to maintain those high standards, we're convinced the firm's latest chassis is likely to attract its fair share of admirers. Enter the Fractal Design Torrent, launching today with prices starting at £156.
Handsome-looking thing, wouldn't you say? Do bear in mind however that as with most Fractal enclosures the Torrent is available in a choice of flavours, and the £156 entry fee represents only a black model with solid side panels. Prefer a tinted glass window? Black, grey or white variants, with a selection of clear, light or dark tints, will set you back £165, and at the top of the range is the Torrent Black RGB TG Light Tint, priced at £200.
We've been sent the top-end model for review, but if you don't feel the need for lots of RGB lighting right out of the box, and if the stock images are anything to go by, the £165 grey version with lightly tinted glass looks particularly swish. Aesthetics are, of course, a key factor for any PC chassis, and though there's only so much you can do with a big 544mm (L) x 242mm (W) x 530mm (H) box, Fractal Design's styling strikes a lot of the right chords.
In contrast to the clean, familiar lines of Define 7, Torrent serves as the latest extension of a company-wide facelift and is unlike any other Fractal enclosure to date. Officially described as a "creative fusion of brutalist elements and streamlined curvature," it manages to convey a rugged sense of elegance, with a striking front grille, matte paintwork and tight manufacturing tolerances helping ensure each piece fits neatly into place.
It isn't only on the outside that Torrent looks intriguing. Step inside and you're greeted by an unusual component layout which sees the power supply moved to the roof, allowing for the floor to be dedicated entirely to base intakes. To be clear, this isn't an inverted layout, but simply moving the PSU from bottom to top makes for a spacious interior and generous airflow potential, particularly in the graphics department.
Behind that stylised front grille reside two large 180mm Prisma AL-18 aRGB PWM fans, each measuring 38mm thick and touting an airflow rating of between 43 and 147 CFM, with speeds ranging from 300 to 1,200 RPM. Getting air into the chassis shouldn't be a problem, but just to be safe, there are a further three 140mm Prisma AL-14 aRGB PWM installed on the floor. We don't often see chassis include five good-quality fans as standard, and with the full-mesh backside, expelling hot air ought to be easy.
Though there are seven fan-mount locations in total, the unusual layout does require consideration when picking out any additional cooling hardware. The chassis can accommodate a single 120/140 at the rear, the removable tray on the bottom can house three 120/140s or two 180s, and Fractal includes a pair of brackets that can be installed to switch the front of the case from the default dual 180s to a trio of 120/140s. There aren't any top mounts to speak of, yet the front and bottom could house either a 120/140/240/280/360/420 radiator.