Fractal Design Define 7 Dark Tempered Glass Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Physical Look - Inside

Consistent with its exterior, the interior of the Fractal Design Define 7 Dark Tempered Glass is also nicely finished with all surfaces painted matte black. To further accentuate its all-black color scheme, the back expansion slot covers and removable hard drive trays are painted black as well. The conventional layout has the power supply mounted at the bottom inside a shroud, drive rack is present to the right, one externally accessible 5.25" drive bay on top, with the rest of the room allocated for the motherboard. By default, the drive rack is configured to the open layout, as shown in our photo above. Generally speaking, everything is quite traditional as far as ATX computer cases are concerned. You can see the Define 7 is a considerably upgraded version of the Define R6 with tons of modular components. Let us take a closer look at what is going on inside.

The Define 7 is able to accommodate mITX, mATX, ATX, and E-ATX motherboards. The riser mounting holes are labeled for users who are not familiar with building their own computers. One 140mm pre-installed rear exhaust fan is situated around the CPU socket area of a standard ATX motherboard. The stock fan is a 1000 RPM Dynamic X2 GP-14 from Fractal Design, and features a 3-pin motherboard header. There are two more in front, and they are all rated at 18.9 dB(A), 68.4 CFM, and 0.71 mmH2O. I am surprised the fans in the Define 7 are not PWM fans, considering the built-in fan controller has PWM support. Two 140mm fans, three 120mm fans, or a radiator of equivalent size can be installed at the top of the case. If you want to install a third 140mm fan, simply remove the 5.25" drive bracket. One thing unconventional is you can put up to two 3.5" hard drives here using the Multibracket. Only one Multibracket is included from the factory, but you can buy additional ones should you need it.

As mentioned on the previous page, the upper vent is sealed off by default the standard top panel. Normally, putting noise insulating foam here may cause undesirably high temperatures. Fortunately, according to our tests, the soundproofing material has little detrimental effect to the case's cooling performance. Additionally, because the covers are completely flat, it makes a lot of aerodynamic sense -- low airflow impedance. I have no complaints with Fractal Design's excellent design in this area.

As shown in our photo above, we can also spot a large rectangular opening on the motherboard tray for easy aftermarket heatsink backplate installation without removing the motherboard itself from the chassis. The opening is actually large enough to accommodate pretty much anything. I mean, with something this big, unless you have some strange motherboard, it is hard not to get it right. The perimeter of the opening is not lined with rubber, but the edges are well rounded off, so you do not need to worry about your cables being stripped accidentally.

The chassis platform is raised about two centimeters off the ground to accommodate units with fans at the bottom, because the Fractal Design Define 7 features a bottom-mounted power supply bay,. Inside the Define 7, metal bumps with rubber toppings at the top elevates the power supply up a further half centimeter just to ensure enough air is made available to your PSU. A plastic bracket is designed to be attached to your power supply, and is held on by two captive thumbscrews. The ventilation grille has an externally removable dust filter pre-installed, so you will not need to worry about nasty stuff clogging your fans down the road.

There is only one thermal zone inside the Fractal Design Define 7, since the shroud separating the main chamber and the power supply chamber is fully ventilated. Cables can be routed through the large opening on the shroud adjacent to your power supply. Other cables can go through the two large openings on the right side of the motherboard tray. As always, rubber grommets are present on all openings to keep everything looking neat and tidy. For unused cables, it can stay underneath the shroud. Two SSDs can go on top of the shroud should you choose to relocate the two trays from the back of your motherboard here.

The Fractal Design Define 7's drive rack design is made for easy conversion from the open layout to the storage layout. If you want to convert to the storage layout, remove all the fans, take the mounting panel out, and screw it to the front of the chassis. Reinstall all the fans and you are good to go. I find this convertible design to be well-executed in ease of use as well as functional. After all, the more choices the better. In the storage layout, it can technically accommodate up to nine 2.5" or 3.5" hard drives, but Fractal Design included only four removable hard drive trays. Each removable drive tray is placed in perpendicular orientation to the chassis, and are designed to be taken out the right side rather than the left side. Each hard drive rack clips on to the mounting panel and is secured down by a captive thumbscrew towards the outside, which you can see in our photo above.

Two 3-pin Fractal Design Dynamic X2 GP-14 140mm fans draw cool air over the hard drives and into the system from the front. Out of the box, both fans are installed as high as possible, but you can relocate them to your heart's desire. The two 140mm fans can be swapped for three 120mm fans as well, or of course, a radiator of equivalent size. The longest video card you can fit in the Define 7 is 18.4" in the open layout. Obviously, no graphics card is that long, so with the storage layout, you can have components measuring in at 12.4".

One 5.25" externally accessible drive bay is present on the Define 7. As I have discussed on the previous page, I do not even have an optical drive installed in my latest build, so having one in this day and age is already one more than anyone else should you still need one.

Here is a look at other side of the Fractal Design Define 7 Dark Tempered Glass. The back of the motherboard tray is quite fundamental to good cabling. This is especially held true with the Fractal Design Define 7, since it is normal practice to cables through this section. With the latest iteration, the company kept gap wide; the amount of room between the side panel and motherboard tray is a good 30mm. Users will generally not experience problems if you own a power supply with thick cables. There is room here for two SSD installations. There is an integrated main cabling guide in the middle; three Velcro straps allow for easy organization in this area. A side integrated cabling guide comes with two more Velcro straps. Other than that, lots of openings can be found so you can fish your cables through, and they are large and wide to carry everything you need. Rubber grommets are found at all openings, which is a very nice touch. I have actually had cases in the past where cables started rattling against the metal panels, and trust me, that could be annoying. The rubber grommets are clipped on pretty well, but if you rip your cables through these holes during your build, they may become loose, although it is not a significant problem.

One Multibracket, referenced earlier, is installed by default on the mounting panel. In the open layout, the mounting panel can accommodate two vertically oriented 3.5" hard drives with the Multibracket. However, only one Multibracket is included from the factory as aforementioned. The Multibracket can be used to mount a pump unit adjacent to the front fans in the open configuration as well.

The built-in Nexus+ 2 fab hub that can control up to six voltage-controlled fans and three PWM fans via your motherboard. It is not as advanced as the one found in the NZXT H710i, but this also means additional software is not required. Two bottom 120mm or 140mm fans or a radiator of equivalent size can be installed into the Define 7. Depending on the number of bottom fans installed, the Define 7 can take power supplies up to 300mm long. Of course, this is just a trivial fact, because I do not believe something of such a size exists in the world, haha. If you really want, you can remove the lower chamber drive rack, which can accommodate two 2.5" or 3.5" drives, for a basically unrestricted PSU size.

Before we close off this section, there are just two more things I want to talk about. Firstly, the Define 7's I/O connector cables are top notch, as I have always expected from the company. While most chassis manufacturers provide a bunch of colorful wires that looks like it came straight from an electronics lab, Fractal Design took the effort to bundle them up into nice black cables. Secondly, fabric coated sound insulation material is placed over almost every panel for improved acoustic properties. Because they are so thin, it occupies little physical space; and knowing they are generally flat, it will not affect airflow inside the case. With all this in mind, it is clear why the Fractal Design Define 7 tips the scales at nearly 30 lbs. Dust filters in every opening. Sound proofing material on every panel. No corners cut anywhere. There is so much that went into the build of this chassis, making it impossibly even more refined than the Define R6.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion