Fractal Design Define S

Fractal Design Define SFractal Design’s Define-series cases have been around for several years now, and most builders are likely familiar with their smooth lines and trademark black-with-white-accents aesthetic. And at first glance, you might think the new Define S is business as usual for the Scandinavian company, but a closer inspection (aka removing its side panel) very quickly dispels that notion. True, the Define S bears a strong resemblance to its elder siblings and shares their durable steel construction. But its interior is so advanced that this frankly feels like it should be the first model in an all-new family of cases.

The first thing that strikes you when opening up the Define S is its complete lack of the metal, top-to-bottom tower of internal, side-facing drive cages that pretty much every modern PC case has. You’re met by nothing but wide-open spaces, and while you may initially wonder what the hell you’re going to do with your SSDs and/or hard drives, it’s still pretty satisfying to have that much unobstructed interior room to work with.The second thing you notice is that the back wall of the interior slopes inward about three quarters of an inch just past the forward edge of the motherboard tray. If you’re like us, this will prompt you to immediately turn the case around and remove the rightside panel, which in turn will answer your previous concerns about internal storage drive placement. The Define S has two cleverly designed SSD mounts on the back side of the motherboard tray, and although this isn’t a new design feature, the swing-out mounting trays secured with knurled thumbscrews make it easy to install your drives without the need to mess with anything on the other side.The area forward of the motherboard tray is where the magic happens. The back of the panel has three built-in mounts for 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drives, and each spot has a removable mounting tray that is similar to the ones on the dedicated SSD mounts, but with rubber insulation grommets that will reduce vibration in the event that you mount hard drives on them.In other words, all of your storage resides on the back of the motherboard tray, so the rest of your interior is free to use for reservoirs and pumps (the Define S comes with brackets that let you mount your reservoir where the drive cages would normally reside) or whatever else your heart desires. This looks much better and has the added benefit of greatly simplifying airflow from front to back.Oh, and one other thing: The Define S bids a fond farewell to 5.25-inch drive bays and, consequently, optical drives. This is a bit disconcerting at first, but as well are all aware, the writing is on the wall, and it may not be long before the notion of optical drives in gaming PCs seems as quaint as the floppy drive does now.Elsewhere, Fractal Design’s Define S has all the stuff that earlier Define-series enclosures had: ModuVent panels that you can remove for increased airflow, removable dust filters across intake fan positions on the front and bottom, rubber-grommeted cable management slots on the mobo tray, and of course the series’ distinctive chrome and rubber case feet. But its radically redesigned interior shows that Fractal Design is paying attention and ensures that if you take the Define S to a LAN party, you’ll have the smartest case in the room. BY CHRIS TRUMBLESpecs: Dimensions: 17.8 x 9.2 x 20.5 inches (HxWxD); Materials: Steel, plastic; Motherboard support: Mini-ITX, microATX, ATX; Drive bays: 3 x 2.5/3.5-inch internal, 2 x 2.5-inch internal; Fans (included): 1 x 140mm front, 1 x 140mm rear; Fans (optional): 2 x 140mm or 3 x 120mm front, 3 x 120mm/140mm top, 1 x 120mm/140mm bottom, 1 x 120mm/140mm side; Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, audio I/O

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