Fractal Design Define Nano S ReviewManufacturer: Fractal Design
UK price (as reviewed): £64.99 (inc VAT)
(£59.99 without window)
US price (as reviewed):
The last mini-ITX tower chassis we reviewed, the NZXT Manta, caused quite a stir in our forums, with many lambasting its bloated frame for being the opposite of what mini-ITX is supposed to be about. As such, Fractal's new Define Nano S is unlikely to please anyone looking for a mini-ITX case that confines itself to exceptionally small dimensions. That said, Fractal can't be accused of the same trespasses as NZXT, as the Node 202 showed us recently that it is experimenting with low volume chassis that can still house killer systems.
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The Define Nano S, on the other hand, is not a small case. Sure, it's little compared to an ATX mid-tower and even the Manta, but that's about it. It sticks to the tried and tested tower design and retains the classic, minimalist aesthetic the Define series is known for.
The plastic front panel has a decent brushed metal finish, but the rest of the case is matt black. If you push hard on the front or on the windowed panel, there's a bit of flex but it's nothing too alarming. The right panel, meanwhile, is very solid and all sides are securely fixed. This is a good thing as without the panels the core structure reveals weaknesses and is easy to bend. Still, it's how the case acts when everything is attached that really counts and in that regard we have few criticisms.
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The position of the I/O panel makes sense given the size of the case – you'll have easy access to it whether it's on the desk next to you or below you. The big power button ha a satisfying action but is wobbly in its socket. As we saw with the Node 202, Fractal has blacked out the USB 3.0 ports to maintain its aesthetic.
Ventilation down both sides of the front panel serves the pre-installed 140mm intake fan, which is joined by a 120mm rear exhaust in a height adjustable mount. Both fans are from Fractal's Dynamo GP series. Additional fans can be installed in the front, bottom and roof, and in this latter position there is a plastic ModuVent blanking plate backed by noise deadening material. Since it covers both fan mounts here together, opting to only use one will leave the other exposed and open – not ideal from either a dust protection or noise reduction standpoint.
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Thankfully, the chassis elsewhere is shielded well against dust. A full-length filter for the bottom, covering the fan mount and PSU, pulls out from the front, which is a good choice for access since most people are likely to have the rear of the case next to or near a wall. The clearance from the rubberised case feet is not massive but you can still get the filter in and out with relative ease and without having to lift the chassis up at all. With it removed, you can then pull the front panel off, which reveals its noise deadening material and a second dust filter guarding the front intake mounts – this too is simple to remove for cleaning.
- Dimensions (mm) 203 x 412 x 344 (W x D x H)
- Material Steel, plastic
- Available colours Black
- Weight 4.6kg
- Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, stereo, microphone
- Drive bays 2 x 3.5in/2.5in, 2 x 2.5in
- Form factor(s) Mini-ITX
- Cooling 2 x 140mm/120mm front fan mounts (140mm fan included), 1 x 120mm rear fan mount (fan included), 2 x 140mm/120mm roof fan mounts, 1 x 120mm bottom fan mount (fans not included)
- CPU cooler clearance 160mm
- Maximum graphics card length 315mm
- Extras Removable dust filters, reservoir mounting brackets, pump mounting bracket, ModuVent blanking plate, sound dampening material