Page 4 - Installation and Conclusion
The installation process was extremely straightforward with the Fractal Design Define 7 Dark Tempered Glass. For the most part, it was very easy to work with as far as a standard mid-tower is concerned. Out of preference, I installed my motherboard and graphics card first, followed by the rest of my components. However, it does not matter what you install first, since they will all work out just as well in the end.
Executing a good cabling job was also very easy on the Fractal Design Define 7. There are two large openings adjacent to the motherboard on the right, so choose your half. They are all appropriately placed for routing cables through, whether they are from your power supply or your hard drive, with proper rubber grommets for both looks and vibration dampening. The rubber grommets are clipped onto place, but they stay reasonably secure unless you use excessive force.
The rest of the installation process came and went just as smoothly as I continued to install the rest of my components like the Fractal Design Ion+ 760W. The placement of the Nexus+ 2 fan hub to the top of the case as a strip was a great design choice in my opinion. Meanwhile, HDD and SSD installation was extremely simple as well; simply align it with the proper holes at the bottom of each drive tray and attach four screws. The main trays as well as the Multibracket can accommodate both 2.5" and 3.5" drives, as discussed earlier in this review. After all the necessary screws are attached, place it in where it belong, make the proper connections, and you are good to go. A Western Digital Red Pro WD141KFGX 14TB is installed on the Multibracket. The only inconvenience I have encountered during installation was the Multibracket in the configuration shown in the photo is that it cannot be removed without taking the cover out on the other side. However, the cover can only be taken out if you remove both fans, which adds quite a bit more work. You can install your SSDs at the back of your motherboard as well, as shown in our photo above.
Unless you count thumbscrews as tool-free, installation of most components will require you to keep your screwdriver handy. This includes all add-on cards as well as your disk drives. I do not have much beef against this though, since it is usually much more secure, and it is not like I will take my computer apart occasionally anyway. The Define 7 will give you no surprises.
Thanks to the cable management section behind the motherboard tray, organizing the modular cables from my Fractal Design power supply was a breeze. Pushing all the case I/O cables through the large bottom opening adjacent to the motherboard on the PSU shroud delivered excellent accessibility to anything that requires a connection to my motherboard. The large motherboard tray cutout also made the installation of my Noctua NH-D15S as smooth as possible.
After plugging in everything, our system configured inside the Fractal Design Define 7 Dark Tempered Glass was ready to roll. I hit the large power button at the top, and my computer came to life. You can see the Fractal Design Define R6 Blackout TG right behind our Define 7 Dark Tempered Glass. It is too bad the Fractal Design Define 7 Dark Tempered Glass does not come with a built-in RGB lighting system.
On a scale from 0.0 to 10.0 where 0.0 is silent and 10.0 is the loudest, the stock Dynamic X2 GP-14 fans would come in at 2.0 subjective sound rating at full blast. That is very impressive. Slowing them down will keep it at around 1.0 in my personal opinion. I am quite sensitive to perceived sound volume, and as a quiet PC enthusiast, the Fractal Design Define 7 is extremely impressive by any metric. The hydraulic bearing fans have a smooth-running motor with no annoying noise during operation; combine that with thick insulation material simply keeps the noise in and the heat out. I am also quite impressed at its ability to eliminate certain types of noise. While it does not magically cancel out noise made by very fast moving fans, the Fractal Design Define 7 does a fine job and keeping my already very quiet parts even quieter. The Define 7 is matchless in this regard. This is truly the case to choose for quiet PC enthusiasts who makes no compromise in power and performance.
It is astonishing how far we have been since I first reviewed the Define R3 in 2011. The Define 7 is modern in every way, yet you can still trace its routes to the original with its clean and inoffensive design, relentless attention to detail, high emphasis on performance, and uncompromising attitude towards quality -- the four qualities that made every generation so outstanding. The Define 7 continues to have extensive water cooling support, tons of options for all your storage drives, excellent sound dampening on all panels, quiet high quality Dynamic X2 GP-14 stock fans, and carries over the Define R6's convertible layout design with tons of modular components. New to the Define 7 are the excellent panel quick release mechanisms, front panel USB 3.1 Type-C port, and the upgraded Nexus+ 2 fan hub. I am also a fan of the new top panel design. It is much cleaner looking compared to past versions due to a lack of cutouts, and somehow they managed to make the swapping process easier, too. With such excellence comes a few areas of improvement in my opinion. First, include PWM-based Dynamic X2 GP-14 fans instead for better speed control. Second, have an option for built-in RGB LEDs. Third, a software-enabled smart fan controller, similar to the NZXT H710i, is highly preferable. Lastly, make the Multibracket, when mounted behind the drive rack in open configuration, to be more easily accessible. For about $170 at press time, the Fractal Design Define 7 Dark Tempered Glass offers a serious lot for your buck. To loosely quote the guy with the worst pickup line of all time in the beginning of this review, here is the question we are obligated to ask: How can a case as amazing as this not get an award? To which I would say, here is the APH Recommended award. For the fifth time in a row.
Fractal Design provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Recommended Award | APH Networks Review Focus Summary:
9/10 means Excellent product with very minor drawbacks that do not affect the overall product.
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that are not likely going to matter to the end user.
-- Final APH Networks Numeric Rating is 8.1/10
Please note that the APH Networks Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other publications.
How can a chassis as deserving of an award as the Fractal Design Define 7 Dark Tempered Glass not have an owner?
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion