Page 4 - Installation and Conclusion
As with all the installations I do, the first thing on my list is take the power supply and slot it into place. In this build, it is the FSP Hydro G 850W; a unit I will be looking at next week. As I have already mentioned, a maximum length of 160mm is stated by Fractal Design for the power supply. This allows the user to still be able to route the power cables with the bottom hole. The Hydro G had zero issues with this, and the next thing I did was routing the necessary power cables. The rubber grommets do an excellent job in only allowing cables through, while blocking the rest of the hole for a cleaner look. I also took this time to route the USB 3.0 header and the other front connectors. While mITX layouts are not exactly standardized, I think Fractal Design has done an excellent job in providing enough routing openings for all the necessary cables. Next, I mounted my SSD, a Patriot Ignite 480GB, at the back of the motherboard tray in a vertical orientation.
The next step I took was installing the motherboard. I first placed the I/O shield in place, and mounted the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5. On the motherboard, I have the Patriot Viper Elite PC4-24000 2x8GB DDR4 RAM modules installed, along with the Noctua NH-L9x65. While this is a small cooler, the Fractal Design Define Nano S has the width to fit larger heatsinks up to a height of 160mm. My next step would have been to install a graphics card, but I do not have one for this build. A maximum clearance of 315mm in length is available for the video card. Lastly, I connected the rest of the power, data, and front I/O connectors. I also plugged in the two fans using the handy included PWM fan splitter.
From the back of the case, you can see how neat and tidy I was able to make the cabling. I will admit I could have probably done a bit better, but I am still quite happy with what I have above. The three Fractal Design labeled Velcros were useful in gathering all the excess cables. I routed most of the cables through the middle lane, except for the 8-pin CPU power cable, which was routed up the back side and into the top. In addition, there is quite a bit of wiggle room here to squeeze all your cables in. The extra clearance near the front is much appreciated, and allows cables to sit here. If there is one thing I would change, it would be more cable tie points. While the straps are very handy, I think having some extra cable tie points would have been appreciated. Otherwise, I think Fractal Design has done an excellent job in giving ample room at the back. Installation was a breeze, especially as this is a larger sized mITX case.
Plugging my monitor and peripherals into the back ports, I powered my system to life, and the system booted up to my login screen. As you can see from the photo above, the window reveals much, including the power supply. Thus I took advantage of this by throwing in an orange BitFenix Alchemy Connect LED Strip. Again, cabling this was made easy with the ample room at the back of the Define Nano S. You can also spot the size difference between the Nano S and my current case, the Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ATX, which is mostly in the height and depth. Others saw this case and commented on how it looked kind of like an Easy Bake oven, especially with the glowing lights and small size. Thankfully, the only tasty treat coming out of here is some computing power. According to the subjectively-objective APH Networks sound scale, where 0 is silence and 10 is loud, the Fractal Design Define Nano S is an excellent 2.0/10 in my personal opinion. It is amazingly silent, even under full load, and the sound dampening on the top, front, and right side panel did an excellent job in softening any extra noise.
Fractal Design rarely every lets us down with their products, and to me there are several reasons. For one, it is the continual commitment to clean and simple build quality. Second, it is the fact they incorporate the necessary features into their products to keep them up to date. Third is the fact their products are very reasonably priced. These are three reasons why the Fractal Design Define Nano S is a stellar computer case from the Swedish company. In terms of design, the Nano S is the same great formula found in the bigger Define S, and perfected in the mITX form factor. The case is smaller in every dimension, and thus we have a few tradeoffs to make, but surprisingly it is not too much. The chassis still fits most necessary components, such as graphics cards and CPU coolers, whether the latter is air or liquid. Granted, things like the ModuVent at the top has been modified into a single piece, rather than a three piece cover we had. As for the necessary features, we see support for ATX power supplies, with majority of the cabling holes filled with the flappy rubber covers to hide the tangled mess. Next, we have water cooling compatibility for pump and reservoir mounting in addition to ample space within the case for all the other cooling components. Fractal Design's excellent use of sound dampening material on the single side panel, front panel, and ModuVent cover is excellent. The clear side window is also nice to see here, but a non-window version is also available for those who prefer it. There are some missing features I would like to see, such as an integrated fan controller hub, sound dampening material on the non-clear plastic parts of the window panel, and air filters under the top ventilation area. However, when you factor in the $70 price tag, this is quite reasonable for a mITX case. The non-window version can be found for $5 less, and some may actually find the cheaper version more useful, especially if their aim is for a quieter build. With all is said and done, the Define Nano S is not a perfect case, and there are changes I would like to see made. However, considering its excellent price to performance ratio, plus the quality we have come to expect from Fractal Design, the Define Nano S is a great option for a small form factor build.
Fractal Design provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Review Focus Summary:
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that are not likely going to matter to the end user.
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.8/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The Fractal Design Define Nano S may be a shrunken Define S, but it proves Fractal Design knows cases, and knows them well.
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1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion