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Building my desktop with the Fractal Design Torrent RGB Black

My thoughts on building a desktop with Fractal Design Torrent RGB Black: unboxing, building efficiency, cable management, and performance

Sid Metcalfe


November 20, 2023


I recently got my hands on the Fractal Design Torrent RGB Black case. I’ve built several PCs before - this case is definetely up there in terms of quality. It has some great innovative features, such as the top-mounted PSU and massive fans. Below are some of my impressions.



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First Impressions and Unboxing

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Shipping a PC case can be a tricky affair due to their size and delicate parts, but as I unboxed the Torrent, it became evident that attention to detail had been a priority. The case was neatly encased and sufficiently protected from the perils of transit, even though there wasn’t any additional packing around the manufacturer’s box. Thankfully, the case arrived with no dents or scratches, despite the box’s slightly rugged appearance.

The case consists of a blend of robust metal and some plastic components. The plastic didn’t feel cheap but rather gave a durable and matte-finished appearance that complemented the overall aesthetic. Among the initial standout features were the two colossal 180mm fans at the front, alongside three 140mm fans mounted at the bottom — a clear sign that Fractal Design was not kidding around about airflow.

As I continued to inspect the case, the unique placement of the power supply unit (PSU) at the top caught my eye. This design choice might cause some initial hesitation, but the logic behind it became clearer as it promised to allow unobstructed airflow to the graphics card from below. Moreover, this offered a discrete area to tuck away excess cables, which was highly appreciated.

The included fan hub was also worthy of mention, supporting up to nine PWM fans, indicating readiness for serious build configurations right out of the box. This was a nice touch and spoke to the enthusiast market this case evidently caters to.

Being obsessed with cable management, I noticed the generous inclusion of tie-downs and Velcro straps, alongside several pass-throughs positioned strategically across the case. The presence of these little helpers was a reminder that even though the space behind the motherboard tray may not be abundant, thoughtful design could help keep things tidy.

For builders looking to incorporate additional cooling solutions, the case also provides brackets to fit smaller fans or radiators. Some users might find installing these a tad finicky — something to keep in mind for those considering custom loops or expansive AIO coolers.

A potential hitch popped up when I observed the plastic pegs holding the front panel. While firm, there was a concern they could be prone to breakage over time, especially as routine maintenance demands repeated removal and attachment.

Despite the larger-than-anticipated footprint which might deter under-desk placements, the case exudes a confidence fitting for a centerpiece in a gaming setup or professional workstation. The tempered glass side panels allow for a peek into the chassis’ innards — a boon for aesthetics, especially when filled with the dynamic lighting of RGB components.

Overall, my first impression leaned heavily positive. The Torrent RGB Black appears to be a solid foundation for my dream build. It checks the right boxes with its cooling capabilities, design ingenuity, and careful consideration for builders’ needs.

The only looming question was how it would fare during the actual build process. The anticipation of fitting my components inside this spacious and promising framework was proper motivation—and a story for the next sections.

Building and Component Installation

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Building on my impressions during the unboxing phase, the actual building process in the Fractal Design Torrent RGB Black had its mix of ups and downs. On a positive note, the sheer size of this case is a builder’s playground. There’s plenty of room to maneuver, which made installing my ATX motherboard a breeze. The ample space was also a godsend for fitting in my oversized RTX 3090 GPU, with room to spare for future upgrades.

Installing the power supply was an interesting deviation from the norm. Positioned at the top, the case challenged my conventional notions of PC layout. However, this design intuitively allows for hidden cable storage in the overhead compartment, keeping the build uncluttered. Plus, this unique placement directly feeds cool air to the GPU, which is a thermal win.

Now, the case comes pre-equipped with a fan hub, which made connecting the included PWM fans more intuitive, drastically simplifying fan cabling. It’s worth noting that the fans operate remarkably silently at idle, only reaching an audible level under heavy load, which is hardly an inconvenience considering the superior airflow they provide.

However, the cable management turned out to be a bit of a double-edged sword. While the case offers numerous tie-downs and Velcro straps for a neat setup, the space between the back panel and the chassis is unexpectedly snug. This led to several frustrating attempts to close the glass panel without putting undue stress on the cables or the chassis. For someone meticulous about cable management, this was indeed a puzzle to solve.

Regarding the fans, the stock configuration includes two 180mm front and three 140mm bottom fans—promoting an air-cooling nirvana any enthusiast would appreciate. If you’re looking to include an AIO liquid cooling system, you might face some challenges. For instance, I contemplated adding a 360mm Radiator, but doing so would mean rethinking my current fan setup due to space constraints.

It’s disappointing to note some quality control issues that can sour the build experience. Ensuring the standoffs aren’t stripped and that the case is free from shipping damages is crucial before diving into the build process. In case of encountering issues, my advice is to leverage the warranty without hesitation. Fractal Design’s customer service has a reputation for being exemplary, a fact I confirmed when they were quick to address a minor issue I faced with broken pegs.

In a nutshell, the building experience with the Torrent was largely positive, with the case’s design thoughtfulness shining through. However, potential builders should be prepared for some quirks, such as a tight cable management space and the rare but impactful quality control hiccup. Nevertheless, if the priority is creating a PC build that stands out both in performance and looks, the Fractal Design Torrent RGB Black aligns with those ambitions beautifully.

Cable Management and Airflow Efficiency

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In my quest to build the dream PC, choosing the right case was crucial, and the Fractal Design Torrent RGB Black intrigued me with its promises of exceptional airflow and spacious design. Cable management is a critical consideration for me, as it not only impacts the aesthetics of the build but also the overall airflow and, by extension, the thermals of the PC.

The case itself is quite large—a full tower by most definitions—and its size is both a positive and a drawback. It’s great because it provides ample space for components and a multitude of cable management options like tie-downs and Velcro straps. However, due to this size, it may be hard to place under a desk or in tighter spaces, which should be a consideration depending on where you plan on setting up your system.

The top-mounted PSU is unconventional but advantageous, tucking away excess cables and helping improve airflow. Nevertheless, it may take some time to get used to and establishing an efficient cable routing took a bit of planning. I appreciate that there’s plenty of room for high-profile CPU coolers and long GPUs, but limited space behind the motherboard tray made managing all the cables a tight squeeze. It’s workable, though; patience is key.

Included with the case is an integrated PWM fan hub, which simplifies connecting the five pre-installed fans to a single motherboard header—a blessing for seamless fan management. However, working with RGB can cause a bit of a mess due to the necessity of daisy-chaining. A system like Lian Li’s where fans connect without extra wires would have been more streamlined.

Speaking of fans, the Torrent comes with two massive 180mm fans up front and three 140mm fans at the bottom, and they make a huge difference. Moving from a previous build that often got too hot, the effect here was night and day. Idle temperatures were significantly lower, and even under load, I saw about a 10-degree Celsius drop. The large intake and bottom fans align nicely with the GPU, ensuring dedicated airflow to keep it cool.

Yet with all good, some niggles arise. If you plan on filling all drive slots provided by the case, managing cables while ensuring the rear panel closes seamlessly will be a challenge. I found myself wishing for just a little more space between the frame and the rear glass panel. Additionally, the 2x 180mm fan slots at the front can be restrictive for some, especially if you’re using massive GPUs or specific radiator setups.

On the Fractal Design website, they tout the Torrent as the hallmark of airflow efficiency, and it’s largely accurate. I didn’t find any comprehensive benchmarks published by Fractal themselves, but third-party reviews and user experiences (including my own) on platforms like Reddit appear to confirm their claims. It’s always better to corroborate such data with real-world usage and other users’ testimonies, which seem to align with Fractal’s assertions.

Moreover, while the case is undoubtedly aimed at air-cooling setups with its vast array of fans and vents, it still accommodates water cooling. The caveat being that particularly large AIOs or custom setups may need some modding or adjustment, so it’s imperative to study the specs before making the decision.

In all, the Fractal Design Torrent left me mostly impressed. The build quality, fan setup, and the careful consideration of airflow pathways overshadow the few concerns I had about cable management and space usage. I’d venture to say for the most part, Fractal delivers on its promises, and the Torrent certainly stands tall as a case well-suited for airflow enthusiasts.

Performance and Aesthetics Review

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In diving into my dream PC build, I admit that the center of my attention was the Fractal Design Torrent RGB Black case. It is eponymous with airflow—a central feature I was not prepared to compromise on. My experience aligns with a bulk of the online discourse; this case is a chic beacon for air-cooling aficionados, with the grandeur of its aesthetic rounding off what is fundamentally a technically impressive product.

The included five fans—two colossal 180mm at the front and three 140mm at the base—are silent sentinels that offer cooling which easily contends with more boutique solutions. The fans maintain an inconspicuous hum at idle and manage a pleasing whoosh amidst heavy loads. My i9 processor remains impressively cool, well within the thermal margins touted in benchmarks and forums. For a non-water-cooled rig, the Torrent is unapologetically proficient.

On the side of looks, it’s a minimalist’s daydream—sleek and suave. The RGB lighting introduces a soft luminescence to components that, when combined with the lightly tinted glass, achieves an allure not often found in PC cases. This understated glamour is striking without being distracting—a balance that complements a work or play environment.

However, the design is not without a few scratches. The top-mounted PSU, while unconventional, proved a double-edged sword. It offers splendid nooks for tucking away cables but introduces a top-heaviness that one wouldn’t expect. Moreover, the cable management demands skill; for newcomers, it’s arguably an initiation rite into the world of PC building. The proximity of the SSD slots and cable routes create a snug dilemma, especially when aiming to keep the rear glass flush against the frame.

The use of plastic in the top and front panels stirred some disquiet within me. Although robust in build, one might argue the material choice feels somewhat at odds with the case’s premium segment, considering its price. But this is a minor quibble in the grand scheme, muffled by the case’s overall outstanding build quality.

As a constructive note, the case’s dimensions may unsettle those looking for compact builds. It demands its share of real estate, and its imposing size might frustrate those hoping to slot it subtly under a desk.

In conclusion, the Torrent’s airflow efficiency is undeniably its star role and it plays it with excellence. Coupled with an attractive design, it casts a significant shadow on competitors. That said, builders should approach this case with patience and care—its quirks are part and parcel of its charm. The occasional awkwardness in managing space and handling materials subtly reminds one that every paradise has its serpents.

For those standing wary at the peripherals of a purchase, I offer this credo: the Fractal Design Torrent RGB Black is a shrine built for the modern PC enthusiast’s ritual, replete with both technological might and sophisticated finesse. It is, with little dispute, a contender for a long-term housing for high-performance components, blending stamina and style in a way that only a few cases do.