Much like another Fractal Design case we reviewed recently, the Arc Midi, the Fractal Design Core 3000 is a simple and effective case, made all the more enticing by its affordability and ease of use.
It’s always with a little apprehension that we step into the sub-100-dollar case category; so we’re surprised and happy to report that the Core 3000 is a very solid contender for you budget builders.
The Core 3000's top hard drive cage is easily removable to accommodate long videocards.
Calling the Core 3000 a mid-tower chassis would be technically correct, though at 17 inches tall by 19 inches deep by 8 inches wide, it’s on the smaller side of the spectrum. This becomes apparent when building into the chassis—our test build was a little more difficult than normal due to the limited space inside. Our test bed’s abnormally large heatsink made it damn near impossible to get the 8-pin power connector connected, though we could have mounted the heatsink afterwards, as the motherboard tray has a large CPU backplane cutout. As in many cases, the top hard drive cage is removable to accommodate long GPUs—we had to remove it to fit an 11-inch GTX 590. Though the case is cramped inside, we were still able to utilize the three backplane cutouts for cable organization, though getting slightly larger power supply cables through them was a bit of a hassle.
The Core 3000 features six hard drive trays, seven PCI expansion slots, and two optical drive bays, which each use two screws to hold the drives in place. Like Fractal’s Arc Midi, the case is painted matte black throughout, but the hard drive bays and PCI expansion covers, in addition to the two stock 12cm fans (exhaust, top) and one 14cm fan (front), are white, which makes for a stark visual contrast.
Fractal seems to be bringing restraint back to case design. We approve.
The front of the chassis is mesh, lined in matte plastic. Up top you’re given four USB 2.0 ports, a reset switch, and your standard audio jacks. It’s also noteworthy that the Core 3000 gives you a ton of cooling options: You can add a 12cm front fan, one 12cm bottom fan, a 12cm or 14cm fan at the top, or a 12cm or 14cm side-panel fan. This number of fan mounting options is unusual for a case in this price range, but most definitely welcome. Even with the stock fans, however, the case performed well in our thermal testing, out-cooling every mid-tower case from last month’s roundup.
Ultimately, the Core 3000 is a respectable case for the price. Sure, we’d like to see USB 3.0 inclusion or a SATA hotswap dock of some sort, but these aren’t must-haves for a case in this price range. Little inclusions, like the black/white color scheme and removable dust filters tell us that Fractal focuses on the details, and we appreciate it. Your $70 gets you a smaller-than-normal mid-tower that makes for a quick (albeit slightly cramped) build that’s easy on the eyes. For all you budget builders out there, the Fractal Core 3000 is worthy of your consideration.