Fractal Design Define S Case Review

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redgarl

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I have a Define R2 XL and I must admit that if you use the 3.25 bay for your drives, you get the same results as here.

I love my case, but my next case will be a Phantekk.
 

Crashman

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It still has the sheet of asphalt on the back panel, and that sheet of asphalt still has a cloth facing. Same piece as before. The window of this model prevents Fractal Design from using it on the other side, but the firm also sells a non-windowed version with asphalt sheet on both sides.

 

ingtar33

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The Define S is pretty much identical to the R5. all they took out of the define r5 (to turn it into the S) was the front mounted drive mounts, and did a little tinkering with the back motherboard tray, creating more room then normally would be found in a define r5/r4

I've owned a number of Fractal Design cases, the S is just a commercial version of a standard case mod done to the R5. Fractal Design learned that water cooling enthusiasts were buying their R5, and removing all the drive cages, including the dvd drives to fit large (>240mm) sized radiators into the case. So they decided there was a market for a slighly modified version of the r5 in the water cooling enthusiast community.

As a sidenote, I've owned the R4, R5 and Arc Midi. In all 3 (though only one was water cooled) i stripped out the front drive cages because the weakness of a FD case is how badly those drive cages (even when not used) destroy case airflow. Whether i was using water or not, after removing those drive bays i have seen a consistent 5C drop in temps across the board. So for my money, the Define S is an improvement on their very good R4/R5 and Arc Midi cases.
 

stoned_ritual

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if only FD would sell their cases with fans less noisy then a dump truck. the one universal problem i've had with FD cases has been the god awful case fans they come with.
Wow! I never had any problems with their fans. I have owned 3 fractal cases (define mini, node 304 and 804)
 

cgigoux

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Now if only they would carry these design changes into the Define Mini (which they haven't redesigned since it was introduced!). Having room behind the MoBo tray for 2 x 2.5 & 2 x 3.5 drives would create the potential for a potent SFF gaming system.
 

atheus

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I'm impatiently waiting for an updated Mini too. They have a survey up on the front page of their site which seems to be collecting opinions for a new mATX case. With any luck that's the overdue mini update they're polling for.

To the fellow saying Fractal Design fans are loud, you either got bad fans, or you mistook noise from some other fan in your case. The FD fans don't even have a high max RPM, so it just doesn't make sense that they would be even slightly loud, much less "noisy as a dump truck".
 

Fulgurant

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The Define S is pretty much identical to the R5. all they took out of the define r5 (to turn it into the S) was the front mounted drive mounts, and did a little tinkering with the back motherboard tray, creating more room then normally would be found in a define r5/r4
I own the R5; it's a brilliant case. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like the S model also differs in that the bottom air filter can only be removed from the rear.

That's a small, but potentially annoying, downgrade, IMO.

As a sidenote, I've owned the R4, R5 and Arc Midi. In all 3 (though only one was water cooled) i stripped out the front drive cages because the weakness of a FD case is how badly those drive cages (even when not used) destroy case airflow. Whether i was using water or not, after removing those drive bays i have seen a consistent 5C drop in temps across the board. So for my money, the Define S is an improvement on their very good R4/R5 and Arc Midi cases.
True. The R5 isn't great at cooling -- at least not if you stick with the stock fan configuration and the stock drive cage configuration. All the reviews reflect that; it's a noise-dampening case first and foremost.

It's trivially easy to remove one of the drive cages though. You can even remove the 5.25" cage, which is a feature I'd never seen before.
 

FastGunna

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I bought my Define S the instant I found one in stock. The only issue I had was the SATA power connectors are not as usable with the orientation of the drives, I had to use 2 SATA power for my 3 hard drives and SSD because realistically its only possible to use 2 of the 4 plugs on each cable due to the spacing between the plugs. I am not looking forward to getting my next SSD because I will have to add another SATA power which will leave me with 7 plugs just sitting in the back of my case destroying my hopes and dreams of cable management. If I had some SATA power cable with only 1 connector each it would be much easier to work with.
 

ingtar33

Illustrious
That may be the first time I've heard someone complain about FD fans being loud.
My standard for quiet is <10db; completely sub auditory

The define R4/R5 series are fantastic for quiet, good looking cases, but the fans are all poor. They move bad air at "low" or "quiet" settings and they are far too loud at high settings, worse, they make a harmonic bearing noise, that rumbles in and out. Its not loud and probably would be drown out by a normal GPU or normal system, but i prefer dead silent rigs, so my rigs are built to be as close to 0db as i can make them. They're not the only fluid/hydrolic bearing fans out there that suffer this problem, the whole redux lineup from Noctua does the same thing (in fact many fluid bearing fans do).

As a result the first thing i do with my Fractal Design cases is strip the fans out and go with other fans, like the Phantex fans i'm currently using in my Arc Midi; or an assortment of noctuas i've found to be better then others.
 

HideOut

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I have to make a comment about a Fractal case I purchased earlier this year, the Node 804. Overall I like the layout but I needed to tell people about its deficiencies too. The from (side) USB3.0 does not work and the 3 fan controller don't work either. If you fidget with it it'll work for a minute. Kinda sad really. Not a Lian Li case quality wise for sure.
 

royalcrown

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It may just be that the horizontally mounted fans wear the bearing a lot faster, I don't have any weird harmonics with my 140mm fractals. The only one I have a problem with out of 4 is the horizontal bottom intake, so I unplugged it.

You can't have awesome airflow and no noise at low RPM, maybe they decided that quietness was more important vs static pressure ?

That may be the first time I've heard someone complain about FD fans being loud.
My standard for quiet is <10db; completely sub auditory

The define R4/R5 series are fantastic for quiet, good looking cases, but the fans are all poor. They move bad air at "low" or "quiet" settings and they are far too loud at high settings, worse, they make a harmonic bearing noise, that rumbles in and out. Its not loud and probably would be drown out by a normal GPU or normal system, but i prefer dead silent rigs, so my rigs are built to be as close to 0db as i can make them. They're not the only fluid/hydrolic bearing fans out there that suffer this problem, the whole redux lineup from Noctua does the same thing (in fact many fluid bearing fans do).

As a result the first thing i do with my Fractal Design cases is strip the fans out and go with other fans, like the Phantex fans i'm currently using in my Arc Midi; or an assortment of noctuas i've found to be better then others.
That may be the first time I've heard someone complain about FD fans being loud.
 

BigHotAndLoud

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They upgraded front intake, but downgraded ventilation out back and intake on bottom (and down graded R5's great bottom filter).

I wish they would add an option of having front intake like this on the R5 for better airflow for people aircooling.

Still no top dust filters for people watercooling and wanting to route rad out of case..
 

BigHotAndLoud

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As a result the first thing i do with my Fractal Design cases is strip the fans out and go with other fans, like the Phantex fans i'm currently using in my Arc Midi; or an assortment of noctuas i've found to be better then others.
Ya Noctua fans and remove the pcie covers might fix the cooling problems around gpus. They had the back right on R5, this thing is a headscratcher
 

SirGCal

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I have an Arc Mini R2 and TWO Define R4's which each hold a full boat of 3.5" drives and act as servers. Temperature has never been an issue and the R4's are dead quiet.
 

BigHotAndLoud

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I have an Arc Mini R2 and TWO Define R4's which each hold a full boat of 3.5" drives and act as servers. Temperature has never been an issue and the R4's are dead quiet.
Yes, and the Define S should have used those better designed backs, so hot air sitting under the video card can escape.

Would be interesting to see if the reviewer would run temp test again, with another front fan and remove the pci-e slot covers.

They need to make an R5 with the 5 inch bays removed and add a full length filter allowing for an additional 140 up top. Pretty much the perfect case for people air cooling at that point
 

Johnby

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Just received mine a few days ago, beautiful just what I desired.

Waiting on my EKWB 360 from Slovenia, this Skylake build will be epic and minimalistic.
 

stoned_ritual

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It is like you have the exact opposite problems with fans that I have. I loved the stock fractal fans, and used 2 of them on the radiator for my old GTX680 that had a closed loop cooler on it, I used the stock 140mm on the node 304 for the corsair h90. I purchased 5 phanteks 140mm fans for a phanteks evolv case (cost me an arm and a leg) and all five of them exhibit the bearing noise that you describe. If you run them at 800rpm, you can't hear the bearings, but you get the motor buzz like an aquarium pump but at 1200+ rpm they shake the side window into a harmonic vibration the likes of which can be best described with my wife's infamous "JESUS CHRIST! TURN THAT NOISE OFF!"<br>

I'm no fanboy (pun intended) but I am a fan of fans.:pt1cable: I am currently running an nzxt h440 and have retired 2 fractal cases to the parts closet. I think the best experience with high end fans I have had is with Cougars, even though they use the hydro bearings, I have never heard even a peep out of them. And they move some air too. Ah well, it seems certain hardware is more of a "luck of the draw" business.
 

stoned_ritual

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I have owned 3 fractal cases and built inside countless others across their series, and I have not had any of those problems. I even broke the side window on my 804 and they sent me a whole new side panel for free...........
 
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