While this chassis sees a very new layout internally, the exterior offers all the things that have made Fractal Design and the Define series so popular. There is a lot of black on the outside, the front panel is closed off and redirects noise to the sides, and in our instance, we really liked the view the windowed version offers. Going with a drive bay-less design is something we have seen with many modular designed cases, it is few and far between that you find a chassis designed like this out of the box, where water cooling options take precedence over anything else, aside from noise suppression in a mid-tower design. There are the very expensive custom cases out there, but they cannot touch this chassis in a cost comparison. Even while stripping the front of what we would expect to see, and with so much digital media and most users opting away from optical bay devices, we have no issues with there being no 5.25" bays in this design. Also, while most other cases only offer six to eight bays for storage anyways, having five trays in the back of the motherboard tray will accommodate most users needs while staying hidden.
Also offering the brackets for a reservoir and mounting on the floor for the pump, it shows that Fractal Design is very forward thinking in this design, and was not so worried about what the chassis may lack from its predecessors, and in our opinion, this is a very good thing, as it drives them to come up with new things that many customers will find appealing for their next, hell, even their current builds. Even with the side panel window in our chassis, we also loved the limited noise during the testing phase. Of course, it could use more fans, as the flow isn't great, but the fact that the rear of the chassis is the only place we found noise, and limited to 31 dB at that, all of the additions to keep noises at bay work very well for this chassis.
That isn't to say that we found nothing wrong with this design, though. The panel was bent when we got it out of the box, but we feel that was just an oversight in assembly, and was easily fixed on a flat surface with a bit of pressure and effort; so not a deal killer. The one thing we did find while using this chassis is that the elimination of the bays on the front, while great for room and options, it definitely takes away from the structural integrity of the chassis. Where we have always said that Fractal Design cases are as strong as an ox, and have very little flex to the chassis with the panels off, this time around we cannot say the same thing. Once the heavier components are in the chassis, and you are moving it around for wiring and such, there is a very noticeable amount of flex to this design. Outside of those two things, we run out of complaints about the Define S.
The thing is though, even if it is a bit more flexible than the rest of the Fractal Design cases we have seen in the past, it is not excessive, or anything you don't see stripping down modular designs, so don't let it be a breaking point for you. With all of the inclusions such as sound absorbing materials, the ModuVent system, the internal layout, and all of that room found inside for water cooling, you will be very hard pressed to find a comparison at the pricing that Fractal released the Define S and Define S windowed version at.
Considering if you do not want the window, you can score this chassis for just $79.99 plus shipping, it is hard to deny the cost efficient deal there is to be had there. Even if you do opt for this version with the window to take advantage of the view of all the money you throw into the chassis, the additional $10 to the pricing and a few extra in shipping are well worth the extra cost in our opinion. Fractal Design broke the mold of what we should expect from them, and in our humble opinion, for this sort of pricing, it is super tough to pass up on this design for something else more expensive, and may not offer all of the goodies that this does, even if it can compete with the water cooling options, the Define S is just that nice of a chassis.
Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:33 pm CDT
|Quality including Design and Build||94%|
|Bundle and Packaging||96%|
|Value for Money||99%|
The Bottom Line: Fractal Design breaks its mold for the Define S! This chassis, while smaller, packs in a ton of options both in cooling and sound absorbing, and both versions can be had for less than $100.
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