Fractal Design Define S2 Vision Blackout Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside

Anyone who has owned a case from Fractal Design's Define series will know exactly what to expect. Our particular unit is the Define S2 Vision Blackout version; other variants include Vision RGB, Black TG, Blackout TG, Gunmetal TG, and White TG. TG stands for Tempered Glass, and Blackout means it is all black with tinted glass. The Vision models have all glass panels, while the RGB version comes with RGB LED fans and a lighting strip standard. After many years and several generations of what we call the "fridge inspired" design here at APH Networks, the Define S2 series stays true to its predecessors. For those who swear by exemplary clean looks combined with an intrinsic attention to detail and tempered glass everywhere, this is your mid-tower chassis. Measuring in at 233mm width, 465mm height, and 543mm depth, the Fractal Design Define S2 Vision Blackout's dimensions are about right for an ATX computer case. These figures are identical to the Fractal Design Define R6 Blackout TG and Define S2 White TG. It tips the scales at 26.67 lbs, which is about a pound heavier than the Define S2 White TG thanks to the extra glass panels, but slightly lighter than the Define R6 Blackout TG. Fractal Design's Define series were never meant to be light. The reason for its increased weight is because steel and glass are both heavy.

33% tinted full-sized tempered glass panels on all sides of the Define S2 Vision Blackout provides a full, unobstructed view inside. All glass panels have excellent optical clarity with no distortion. I have never seen a case with so much glass; not even the In Win 805 can top this one. It is quite a looker in my opinion. I am still a bit disappointed we did not get the RGB version we expected, given we already reviewed the Define S2 White TG that also did not come with RGB lighting out of the box and the Vision models have so much glass to show off what is inside. That aside, the glass panels on the left and right side are both attached to the main frame by its own frame via two thumbscrews at the back, clip at the front, and a ball and socket tab along the top and bottom near the front. This is not a traditional tempered glass panel design, but this mechanism works better in my opinion because the panel can be attached without screws. It is not as secure as the latch design in the previous generations of Fractal Design cases, but it is sufficient if you do not plan to lug your case around regularly. If you do, simply attach the thumbscrews. The rest of the chassis consists of even more glass, which you will see in the next few photos.

Behind the glass front panel are three massive Dynamic X2 GP-14 fans. You can get to this by tugging the front panel held on by plastic pegs. I have seen air purifiers with smaller intakes than the Define S2 Vision Blackout, and with three 140mm fans pre-installed, I have a feeling the Define S2 Vision Blackout will make a better air purifier than actual air purifiers if it had a HEPA air filter, haha. The stock fan is black in color. Since the air intake is via the ventilation slits on the side, non-removable air filters are installed there. This leaves room for unobstructed view for the tempered glass panel in front. If you want a solid panel with sound dampening instead, the non-Vision models have you covered.

Fractal Design placed the front panel connectors at the top of the Define S2 Vision Blackout, just like everything that came before it. The Define S2 Vision Blackout's layout configuration is identical or very similar to other products in the Define series. With its power button placed nice and center, the designers managed to create a level of symmetry in an asymmetric fashion. On the right side of the power button, we have two USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Both sets are clearly labeled. On the left side of the power button, we have two 3.5mm audio jacks for headphone out and microphone in, reset button, and a USB Type-C port. The power button is a short-travel click button. Surrounding the power button is a stylish white LED ring. There is a second LED segment behind the tempered glass front panel. The power LED also doubles as a drive activity light by flashing to indicate drive activity.

Shifting our focus a little bit, there are elements that make the Fractal Design Define S2 Vision Blackout quite unique. Traditionally, case designers install top mounted fans to efficiently draw heat away from the processor. This makes a lot of sense, since heat rises, so we are only adhering to the natural laws of physics. Unfortunately, this is a two-way street, as it is also very easy to get a lot of dust in the system that way when it is turned off. I am not a big fan of such a design, and I really dislike it when manufacturers force me to use that opening. Therefore, to rectify this problem, Fractal Design made a wise choice and gave the user an option to choose what they want with the third-generation ModuVent design. Want silence and no maintenance? Leave the tempered glass top panel on. Want more airflow? Take off the glass panel, and you can install up to three 120mm or 140mm fans with the cooling bracket installed. Of course, it can accommodate a radiator of equivalent size. The cover can be released by pressing a button at the back of the chassis. This can be convenient if you need to access its 25.4mm water cooling fill port. The latest design also comes with an angled plastic grille and dust filter that goes on top of the cooling bracket, shown in our photo above, to keep the nasty stuff out. The opening width is restricted to 140mm to reduce dust from entering your system. The only recommendation I have is if they make it so that it is side ventilated like the NZXT H700i, it would be even better so users can keep both the glass panel and install fans in this area.

Painted black to match the rest of the chassis, the back of Fractal Design's Define S2 Vision Blackout is pretty much standard for a case with a bottom mounted power supply bay. We can expectantly spot an included black colored Dynamic X2 GP-14 140mm fan placed adjacent to the motherboard I/O backplate. Normally, you will only get a 120mm fan here, but the fatness really pays off. The top panel release button can be seen at the top left corner. Much to my surprise, there are no radiator pipe openings, but I think external water cooling systems are practically non-existent nowadays. Both side panels are secured down by two thumbscrews each. They are held on using a push to lock set of ball and socket joints as aforementioned and swings out from the back. You technically do not even need to use the thumbscrews if you do not feel like it. This is particularly useful for those who need to remove this panel frequently, but it is not as secure as the latch design in previous generations as aforementioned. The ventilated plates enclosing the seven horizontal and two vertical expansion card slots are painted black shown in our photo above. The vertical expansion card slots can be used with the vertical GPU riser kit to show off your graphics hardware.

Shiny legs with rubber bottom resembling those commonly found on home electronics can be seen on the Fractal Design Define S2 Vision Blackout. The legs provide the chassis about 1.5cm rise over the surface it resides on. For those who want more fans in their systems, the bottom panel has room for up to two 120mm or 140mm fans or a radiator of equivalent size. The front handle of the washable fan filter for all the bottom intake fans can be seen in our photo above, which can be pulled out for easy cleaning.

Overall, the Fractal Design Define S2 Vision Blackout ATX case continues to be one of the most solid cases I have seen with regards to build quality. All the panels fit together extremely well with minimal panel gaps -- in fact, it is pretty darn close to perfection in refinement. With that out of the way, nothing feels flimsy or cheap. Sharp edges are out of the question. The amount of attention to detail is very noticeable, and it is evolutionary improvement over all its predecessors. The Define S2 Vision Blackout sits between the Define S2 White TG and Define R6 Blackout TG in weight, making it on the heavy side compared to other cases. Quality, features, and all this tempered glass comes at a price though, and you will see why in the next page.

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