Fractal Design Define C Review (Page 2 of 4)
Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside
Before I continue, you may wonder why I have a Christmas tree in the background. This is because it was still up when I was taking photos of the Fractal Design Define C. If you somehow skipped the introduction, I will have already told you this chassis borrows a lot of design elements from the Fractal Design Define S and the Nano S. Of course, this is closer to the Define S in size, as it is still intended for a full ATX motherboard, rather than the Nano S' mini ITX specification. You might be thinking why the Define C exists in a space where the Define S also is present, especially as they both serve the ATX market. In response, Fractal Design realized a lot of users are not even utilizing the space in front of the case, creating for a lot of emptiness inside. Rather than filling the spots with other things, Fractal Design decided to slim down the enclosure completely, making for a smaller footprint overall. Taking a look at the Define C, you might call it fridge-like in its styling, which is something I have said about Fractal Design Define cases in the past. Personally speaking, it would be nice to see an updated look from Fractal Design, but there is still something about this iconic design that makes me smile.
The front panel features a nice brushed metal-like look, just like its siblings, but it is still plastic. The side panels are made out of some sort of ferrous metal, which is probably steel. They have a nice feel with only a small amount of grit to make the panels easy to hold. The left side panel also has a relatively big side window, revealing all internally to the user. This does mean you should be more careful in your cable management, but we will look more into this during our installation. While it is understandable Fractal Design has kept its same design, it would have been nice to see some tempered glass love for better clarity of the internal components. At the top, there are the front I/O connectors exactly in the same location as the Define S and Nano S. In addition, there is very little Fractal Design branding externally. Otherwise, the rest of the case follows the same black look you see today. In addition to the windowed version, a non-window Define C is also available.
While the Fractal Design Define C is classified as a mid-tower ATX case, it is a bit smaller than most mid-towers we see here at APH Networks. This is because they have shortened the depth of the case by quite a bit. At a height of 440mm, width of 210mm, and depth of 399mm, this case is smaller than the Define S in all dimensions. Even so, the internal space is still quite adequate for larger components, as we will see later on. At a weight of 6.8kg, this is again lighter than the Define S, though this is not a surprise considering the smaller overall size.
Taking off the front panel, you can see Fractal Design has done very similar things with the Define C. In order to actually take off the front panel, you must first remove the bottom air ventilation filter by sliding it out the front. Next from the bottom, you can pop off the front panel. It is held to the case by several plastic pegs. On the back of the front panel, you can see the first signs of Fractal Design's sound dampening material. The original Define S actually did not have any of this material on the front, and this is a good addition. However, like the Define S, there is no integrated fan controller here, though this omission is not entirely surprising. The front panel has intake ventilation on the sides, which is where the air is drawn in from. Behind the panel is a plastic air filter. Unfortunately, it sits on the front with some plastic pegs. Both the Nano S and the Define S had magnets holding it in place for a more elegant solution. Finally, behind the filter at the front is a place to put some intake fans. A maximum of three 120mm or two 140mm fans can be slotted on the rails here. Fractal Design has included a Fractal Design Dynamic X2 GP-12 fan at the front, which is smaller than the Dynamic GP-14 fan found in the Define S.
Once again, we have practically the exact same layout as the previous Define cases for its input and output. From left to right, we have two 3.5mm audio jacks; one for headphones and one for a microphone. Next to it is a small reset button. In the middle is a large power button with quite a bit of actuation travel. Finally, we have two USB 3.0 ports. While they are not marked with the standard blue connections you see on other cases, I can assure you these are USB 3.0. Unfortunately, there are no new connectors, such as USB-C, which would have been a nice addition. Underneath these ports is a small plastic divot, which is where the LED power indicator is located. Finally, at the top, you can see Fractal Design's ModuVent system. This single plastic piece allows users to either pop it off when used for cooling intake, or to keep it on for a quieter system. The ModuVent also has another layer of their sound insulation material behind for more noise suppression. If users, however, want to place a top radiator or use fans here, an included magnetic dust filter can be put in place of the ModuVent system to allow airflow. This is much appreciated, as previous cases did not have a top filter solution.
The backside of the Fractal Design Define C is pretty standard. On the left, we have the motherboard shield cutout. Beside it is the air exhaust area, where a single Fractal Design Dynamic X2 GP-12 sits. This place is capable of holding a 120mm fan or radiator. As with most mid-tower cases, the Define C comes with seven expansion port covers. These brackets are tool-free and are held in by thumbscrews. By now you can tell this is a bottom mounted power supply case, so at the bottom we have an ATX-size cutout for the power supply. Unlike the previous cases, however, this ATX-size power supply cover actually comes off, as users need to install the power supply outside of the case and then connect the bracket to the case. The bracket is held on with two captive thumbscrews.
At the bottom of the case, we can see how the Fractal Design Define C stands up. Four silver feet in each corner protrude from the bottom, with rubber padding underneath. This reduces the vibration created between the floor and the case, which is good to see. I will say the feet are not high enough to ensure adequate airflow in comparison to some other solutions, especially on plushier carpets. Thus I would recommend using the case on a hard surface if given the opportunity. As already mentioned, you can see the full mesh air filter. Spanning the entire floor, it is intended to protect the power supply and the rest of the bottom mounted components in the Fractal Design Define C from dust particles entering here. It is conveniently removable from the front, as alluded to earlier. In addition, a sticker containing the serial number of the Define C can be found on the air filter.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion