Fractal Design Define S ReviewManufacturer: Fractal Design
UK price (as reviewed): £70.00 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $89.99 (ex Tax)
Announced last month
as an addition to Fractal Design's iconic and popular Define Series, the Define S received much praise and generated considerable excitement amongst our regular readers. Today, we bring you the full review of the chassis that sits alongside the Define R5
as the more water-cooling friendly case of the family. Hardcore Fractal fans will also probably be aware of the recently announced Define R5 Blackout Edition
, which coats the PCI-E covers, fan blades and HDD mounts in black for those who consider black holes a little too colourful for their liking.
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The Define S does retain white highlights, although everything else is black, which is the only colour the case is available in – Fractal has even taken the time to blacken the typically blue USB 3 ports. These sit alongside the standard audio jacks and power/reset buttons on the easily reached I/O panel. The Define R5 includes an extra pair of USB 2 ports here, although their omission is no big deal.
Gone also is the front door – the Define S has done away with optical drive mounts entirely, which we're again fine with, so there's really no need for it. The door on the R5 also covers its fan control switch, however, and the absence of this is in the Define S is something we're less pleased with. That said, it was only ever single channel controller capable of controlling just three fans, and liquid cooling enthusiasts will probably want something considerably more powerful.
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The removal of the front door simplifies the all plastic front panel. It's now just a solid front fascia with a faux brushed aluminium effect coupled with full height ventilation on down the sides for airflow and a cutout in the bottom that gives you a little extra airflow and a place to pull it off. The plastic front isn't as solid as we'd like but it isn't flimsy either. Pulling it off reveals a full cover, magnetic dust filter for the trio of intake fan mounts, the middle one of which is filled with a Dynamic Series GP-14 140mm fan. This is complemented by a second one in the rear exhaust position.
The Define S retains the three roof fan mounts of the Define R5, as well as the ModuVent blanking plates used to keep noise in and dust out when they're not in use. The plastic on these, like the front panel, feels weaker than it should, and we'd prefer them to be made of steel. Also note that no dust filters for these roof mounts are provided – hardly an issue when your fans are spinning and exhausting air, but more so when your system is off.
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The huge, clear window understandably gives the left panel a fair bit of flex, but it's held in place securely with no unsightly gaps between any of the panels. The steel around the window is very solid, and this manifests itself clearly on the blank right side panel, which is incredibly robust. Note that the non-windowed version of the chassis has a single 140mm/120mm fan mount in the left side panel, shielded again by a ModuVent cover.
The thick rubber feet give the Define S plenty of grip, although only moderate clearance. This made it difficult to replace the bottom dust filter without lifting the case. This filter covers both the PSU intake and the bottom fan mount, so you also need quite a bit of space behind your chassis when removing it.
- Dimensions (mm) 233 x 533 x 465 (W x D x H)
- Material Steel, plastic
- Available colours Black
- Weight 8.5kg
- Front panel Power, reset, 2 x USB 3, stereo, microphone
- Drive bays 3 x internal 3.5in/2.5in, 2 x internal 2.5in
- Form factor(s) ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX
- Cooling 3 x 140/120mm front fan mounts (1 x 140mm fan included), 1 x 140mm/120mm rear fan mount (140mm fan included), 3 x 140mm/120mm roof fan mounts, 1 x 140mm/120mm bottom fan mount (fans not included)
- CPU cooler clearance 180mm
- Maximum graphics card length 425mm
- Extras Removable dust filters, ModuVent blanking plates, noise dampening material