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Fractal Design Define S Case Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
So far we’ve seen many outstanding case releases in 2015 and we are happy to see companies diversifying on features sets and targeting specific users groups. The latest chassis from Fractal Design aims to cater to watercooling enthusiasts with an open-style interior design and radiator optimization but leaving a clean plate for whatever build you prefer. The Define S is a must-release in our eyes based on how often the Define R5 was stripped of its drive cage and used as a cleaner frame for multi-radiator setups.


<iframe width="720" height="405" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CaU72f0hMVo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​


Probably the most exciting thing about the Define S is the price; it goes for $79 and $89 for the solid and windowed paneled versions respectively. Considering the Define R5 was released at $119 and the Define S shares similar build quality and material language, we hope this aggressive pricing strategy is squeezed by outstanding competition from Phanteks, CoolerMaster and Silverstone. As usual, the exterior is clean and well designed but won't be of particular interest for those of you looking for a "look at me!" style case.


DEFINE-S-WIDE-1.jpg


We love Fractal’s approach for the Define S. It has an expanded side panel window to reveal all your hardware and plenty of flexibility, allowing users to close off unused top areas. It also comes with handy reversible side panels but they aren't compatible with any previous Define chassis. One of these has acoustical dampening material while the other holds the usual window.

Another interesting addition is the ability to completely close off the top ventilation areas if they aren't being used. This drastically reduces the amount of dust being sucked into the case and also helps lower its acoustical profile.


DEFINE-S-WIDE-2.jpg


The interior layout is open. Very open actually. There's compatibility with triple 120/140mm fans at the front, single bottom and rear 120/140mm fan slots and another triple 120/140mm mount at the top, making even just an aircooled build exciting.

Watercooling optimization is where the Define S really shines with up to a 360mm radiator at the front and up to a 420mm radiator up top. The conventional drive cage assembly has been removed to allow push-pull and thick radiators to live comfortably, plus Fractal has included reservoir and pump mounting strips on the frame near the front, a perfect spot for a large tube reservoir.


DEFINE-S-WIDE-3.jpg


This focus on eliminating airflow barriers is clever especially since the Define S can still support plenty of drives with 3 grommeted brackets behind the frame, to house 3.5” and SSDs. Alongside the three aforementioned brackets are dedicated dual 2.5” brackets behind the motherboard tray, allowing adequate storage options. Users that require more storage may consider the R5 with the conventional drive cage at the front of the chassis.


DEFINE-S-WIDE-4.jpg


The Define S is a much needed case for Fractal Design fans. Even in our own R5 review, we opted for a front radiator installation that required drive cage relocation. This new release is bound to be welcomed with open arms from modders, hard core Define series lovers, first time watercoolers or even first time builders. The entire process is as enjoyable as it looks and if a case upgrade or a new system is hovering in your mind, we’d strongly recommend the Define S.

You can watch our full video review above.
 
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