Fractal Design Meshify S2 Black Dark TG Mid-Tower Review

Fractal Design have hit the nail on its head with the Meshify S2, check out why we recommend this case so heavily here!

Published Wed, Jan 23 2019 9:00 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:57 PM CST
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

In the beginning, Fractal Design created the Define S chassis, and the world must have loved it. While in today's cases, it can still compete, but there was room for improvement. Improvements led to the Define S2 chassis, which in today's market is quite the contender for your hard earned dollar, with a feature-rich design, and plenty of room to jam pack it full of components and liquid cooling.

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While all of that was going on, around a year and a half ago, we were also introduced to the Meshify C, where the front panel stood as an interesting signpost, that attracted the masses to the chassis upon first sight. If you look at the name of the chassis in the title, you can tell where we are going, and how the name plays to deliver the heritage, along with an addition that may spring more life into an aging line of case designs from Fractal Design.

Keeping just about all of the feature set that the Define S2 delivered, the new Meshify S2 has one noticeable change, and a couple not so obvious ones. Most importantly is the front panel. Just like in the Meshify C, the Meshify S2 delivers the attractive, artistic, angular mesh front panel, strapped to what is necessarily a Define S2 behind it.

Along with the new fascia, in the literature provided to us from Fractal Design to make this all happen, we saw that there is four version in total of this new offering. There is the standard model called the Meshify S2 Black, with a pair of steel panels. There is also the Meshify S2 Black -TG which offers a tempered glass side panel, with no tint in the glass. There is also a Meshify S2 Black Dark TG which we have and comes with a deeply tinted tempered glass side panel. Lastly, there is a Meshify S2 White, but at this time it only comes with a non-tinted tempered glass side panel.

With our heads firmly wrapped around what is going on with the latest design to leave Fractal Design, there is a lot here you may have seen before, but we do have to admit that the Meshify S2 is more attractive. Of course, that is our opinion and is subjective, but the actions were taken by Fractal Design to make this chassis reality, both cases that come together to create what we have for you now must have been successful.

Otherwise, there would be no need to carry on to make a chassis that is essentially the same as another currently sold in many e-tail settings, and adds to confuse us on where precisely the Meshify S2 sits in the minds of the masses. Is a new front panel worth all of the fuss?

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The Meshify S2 that we have is black, and it comes with the Dark tempered glass side panel. The chassis is made mostly of steel for the frame, brackets, slot covers and suck, but there are things like the front bezel and the feet which are made of ABS plastic. All models have Bitumen sound deadening material placed inside of the side panels, and on the vanilla models, this goes for both side panels. For a mid-tower, this case is quite large, boasting dimensions of 233mm of width, 465mm of height, and 538mm of depth. Weight will vary between models, but on average, the Meshify S2 will weigh in at roughly twenty-six pounds.

Inside of the chassis, along with a motherboard tray that can support up to 285mm wide EATX motherboards, there are also three 3.5" or 2.5" drive cages found behind the motherboard tray, near the front of the case. On top of that, there is also a pair of dedicated 2.5" drive trays, which hang below the CPU cooler access hole or can also be placed on the top of the PSU cover.

At the back of the case, there are nine expansion slots in total, seven of the standard variety, plus a pair running vertically, but to use them requires the purchase of an extension cable kit for PCI-e connectivity. Outside of the chassis, connectivity has been reduced by a pair of USB 2,0 ports, but we still find a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port, a couple of USB 3.0 ports, and HD Audio jacks.

Cooling has tons of options, but the chassis is shipped with only three fans in the nine locations. There is a pair at the front of the chassis, which are X2 GP-14 140mm 3-pin powered fans, and a match to the couple is also found in the rear of the case. Optionally, the front of the case can take on three 120mm or 140mm fans, as does the top. The back of the case will allow for a single 120mm or 140mm fan, but the bottom of the chassis has room for yet another pair of 120mm or 140mm fans.

As for liquid cooling support, radiators can go in all four locations, and the sizes can all be found in the chart. One thing to note, however, is that when populating the top of the chassis, the max thickness can be no more than 35mm to ensure it does not conflict with the motherboard.

Clearance is not an issue either. The PSU can be 300mm long and still offer ease of connectivity for modular cables. Without fans in the bottom, there is no real limitation at all. GPUs can be 440mm in length, which covers the market well, but this can be reduced if a radiator is used in the front of the chassis. CPU air coolers can be 185mm tall, which covers just about every cooler we have ever had our hands-on. In the back, when it comes to finding room for the wires, Fractal has provided 23mm of space there behind the motherboard to easy any burden there.

In the literature provided to us, we saw that with either version of the TG models, the Meshify S2 Black-Dark TG, the Black-TG or the White-TG, the MSRP is set to $149.99. If you want the panel on the left to be steel, you will save ten dollars. No shock on the price, as it is what the Define S2 was released at as well, and seems fitting that the slight changes to the newer model not take pricing over the top.

However, one wrench to the gearing is that currently, the Define S2 is considerably cheaper, so you will have to love what you are about to see to pay the $35 premium. That being said, we like what we saw, and we are taking you on a detailed tour to see if the Fractal Design Meshify S2 Black-Dark TG Mid-Tower chassis is a must have for your next build.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications


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Fractal Design again opts for plain cardboard to box the chassis, which makes the black screen printing pop. At the top, we get the name of the company as well as the generic name of the chassis. The image in the middle is of the TG series with a fragile sticker. Along with the logo and web address, there is a small notation that this is a tempered glass edition, and the color indication above says our chassis is black.

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Under the name of the chassis on the side of the box, we see a chart for the product specifications as well as a second chart on the cooling. The stripe at the bottom tells us that the chassis is designed in Sweden while made in China.

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The back of the box is used for an exploded diagram of the Meshify S2, with seven points of interest. This is where Fractal Design mentions the tempered side glass panel, the easy to clean dust filters, inclusion of USB 3.1, the large mesh front for high airflow, the water cooling support, integrated PSM fan controller, and the PSU cover.

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While we have figured out that we do have a black Meshify S2 with tempered glass, there are still two options it could be. Looking at the white stickers on this side of the box determines which is inside since the part number ends in TGD, which is the mark of the Dark version.

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With plastic stuck to the shiny parts of the front bezel, and with it clinging to both sides of the tempered glass panel, the chassis is then wrapped in a plastic bag to protect the paint. Taking on blunt force impacts are the Styrofoam caps at the top and bottom of the chassis. While basic, it still allows this relatively heavy mid-tower to arrive at our door in pristine condition.

Fractal Design Meshify S2 Black-Dark TG Mid-Tower Chassis

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Initial impressions from the front of this chassis might be confusing. What you are looking at is the front panel from the Meshify C. Identical in every detail from the shiny plastic around the mesh, every angle and contour is the same, even the placement of the plaque near the bottom is exactly as it was on the Meshify C.

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The front I/O panel, while initially looks decent with the HD audio jacks, the USB 3.1 port, power and reset buttons and the pair of USB 3.0 ports, we notice oddities as well. There is a lack of USB 2.0 which the Define S2 has, and we also see the front I/O is attached to the bezel, which is also something the Define S2 did differently.

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The top of the chassis sports the same removable mesh insert at the top as does the Define S2. Around the insert is steel which has been painted black, and is wrapped around the sides, where it meets with the side panels of the case.

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While most of the left side of the chassis is taken up with a vast expanse of dark tinted tempered glass, with no visible mounting hardware mind you, there are the slightest bits of steel and angled plastic at the front to see as well. Typical for a Fractal Design chassis is the exposed metal looking feet, which are plastic.

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The back of the chassis starts with the plunger style button which will release the mesh top panel, just above the rear I/O area, to the left of the exhaust fan. The middle is consumed by the 7+2 expansion slot arrangement, where the +2 slots are accessed externally, and the external PSU mounting plate seen at the bottom.

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The right side of the chassis is much like the left side, only this time the glass is replaced with steel and has sound deadening material on the inside of it. The body lines are just as tight and straight as the left side, and both panels are held for shipping with thumbscrews but use balls and sockets to release at the back, opening like car doors.

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The bottom of the chassis has the four round feet on the edges, which allows for the full-length dust filter. Seen through the mesh, the PSU area is at the back, but there are fan locations near the front visible as well. Another plus to the design is that the filter is removed from the front.

Inside the Meshify S2

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Sadly, once the front bezel is loose, we did not get far before the wires kept things tight. Behind the bezel is access to mount fans and radiators to the front of the chassis, as well as where you remove a pair of screws to allow part of the PSU cover to come out.

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Inside of the front panel, there is the pair of 140mm, 1000RPM, 3-pin powered Fractal Design stickered fans. Just to the left of them, between the fans and the motherboard tray is a section of slotted steel. These slots are intended to support reservoir mounting with plenty of options of depth depending on the setup.

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The top of the chassis will support four 120mm fans, unlike what the specifications implied, but there is room for only a trio of 140mm fans. This tray not only has a fill port hole near the edge, but it can also be removed entirely after taking out four screws on the same side as the fill port hole.

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Since the motherboard tray is flat as it moves from the back to the front of the chassis, not only can you fit Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, and ATX motherboards, but even EATX is an option. The cooler access is wide open, grommets are found all around, and tie points are readily available.

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The PSU cover goes from the front to the back, blocking the view of the PSU, wires, and possibly a pair of fans. Above the impressed Fractal Design, there is a defined removable section of the cover. Along with a grommet for motherboard connectivity, there is another hole at the back for HD Audio connectivity, and the rest of the top section is well ventilated.

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Inside of the rear panel, hanging near the top of the chassis is the third 140mm fan. Below the fan are seven expansion slots, with internal thumbscrews holding in the slotted covers.

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Behind the motherboard tray, starting at the left is a trio of removable cages which support the installation of either a 3.5" or 2.5" drive into them, of which, the lowest one has our hardware in it. Wiring is tended to on the left to keep it out of the way so that the PWM fan controller and the pair of Velcro straps help maintain the bulk of the PSU cable runs.

Under the CPU cooler access, we find a pair of 2.5" drive mounting plates, and while they install here, they can also cover the slotted end of the PSU cover as an optional location. The PSU slides in from the back, but the side is open to access modular supplies and offers a way to route the cables.

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The wiring that needs to be connected for full functionality is what we show here. There is the USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C connected, right below the one for HD Audio. At the top, we find all of the buttons and LED wires for the chassis, and the thickest of the group, the USB 3.0 connection.

Hardware & Documentation

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Inside of the box containing the hardware, this is what you should expect to find. There are a standoff and a socket to drive it, and it can replace the helper standoff already in the chassis. There are twelve grommets for HDD mounting that work with the dozen HDD screws to the right of them. Across the bottom are the motherboard screws, extra panel screws, PSU screws, and a small handful for SSD mounting.

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Along with six zip-ties to help with the wire management, there are two thin and long bits of metal. Using the extra panel screws on the ends of these brackets, you can screw them into the slots to the right of the motherboard tray. The slots across the brackets will allow for all sorts of manufacturers gear to fit with the universal layout all the way around.

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To help alleviate the cable clutter behind the motherboard tray, Fractal Design includes a SATA power adapter cable. The cable takes a single SATA connection from the PSU and turns it into three SATA power connections, so things look nice at the HDD cages. To the right is a cleaning cloth for the tempered glass. It sports the Fractal Design name and is folded in fourths in this image.

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The manual for the Meshify S2 is one of the best in the game. Parts are listed by the quantity and have clear descriptions of use. As you go further, a standard build is shown step-by-step, and as you continue, all options and possibilities of what can go in are shown, with restrictions and overall dimensions offered as well. The bright red insert is for those who may have an issue, all of the information needed to try to resolve it is provided here, in three languages.

Case Build & Finished Product

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Since this chassis cares not one bit for those wanting 5.25" drive support, from beginning to end, or any time you view the chassis from the front, you get this look at an aesthetically pleasing design presented in mesh.

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Using an ATX motherboard and an FE GPU for reference, it is easy to see we have plenty of room left. Using the 280mm radiator at the top did restrict the RAM height, but we could have gone with the front as well and used whatever we wanted to. Even with custom loops, and a reservoir hanging behind it, the chassis has a nice flow through design to help keep things cool.

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The rear I/O cover is tight to get in, but solid once installed. The GPU slides into place level and locks solidly into the chassis with the thumbscrews. As for the SPU, once the plate is mounted to the PSU, slide it in over the four rubber feet on the bottom of the chassis, and send the pair of screws into the chassis.

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Wires drop down the left side, except that the pair of fan cables need to cut across the middle to make it to the fan controller. The 8-pin cable tucks off to the right; we sent the GPU power leads through the PSU cover, leaving just a few things to hold in with the Velcro straps. All in all, a clean look if you are willing to put in the effort.

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Stepping back with the panels back on the chassis at this time, we find that the Dark version is aptly named, as the view inside of the case is just that, dark. All we can make out is the GPU and its cables, leaving the Meshify S2 with a monolithic look with a touch of glass.

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As seen, once powered, the fans are inaudible with the PC at rest. Even when stressed, the chassis fans only move into the slightly audible range at 35dB. We also like that the power LED slash HDD activity light is hidden behind the mesh at the top-right corner of the front bezel. However, adding power makes the GPU slightly more visible, but we can barely make out the NZXT LED head unit, so if a view of the components is what you want, then make sure to select the Black-TG version.

Final Thoughts

We could go on and on forever with the things we like in this design. Not having the Define S2 in hand before this, we don't feel we have missed much, as, at the bottom of it all, this is the S2 with a new face.

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When testing the original Define S, we do not recall any issues with the amount of ventilation the slits around the full aluminum fascia proved for intake of air, however, using the Meshify front Bezel, it does improve on airflow without a doubt. The chassis is well built, robust, and heavy, which for us is perfect to protect the thousands of dollars that could be inside of it, which is the most basic job of a chassis.

It is roomy inside, it is more than capable in the water cooling department, there is a built-in PWM fan hub, and with a fair amount of cooling capability out of the box, things can only get better with optional cooling components, however, the chassis is quite good under PWM control of being seen and not heard. Speaking of being seen, it is the looks that got us.

There is something special about the way the angles, all the mesh, the mix of finishes, and that large amount of nearly obsidian-like glass on the left side, it keeps things dark and mysterious. All of this, and we still didn't touch on the use of sound deadening materials, the way the side panels attach, in nearly every corner, or any area of the chassis, there is something to appreciate and attempt to figure out how to use it to your advantage.

There is some bad we have to discuss, but it is mild to many potential customers, but things that need to be mentioned. Staring with the front bezel. While we love the look, the move away from the Define S2 and the IO panel being attached to the chassis is something sorely missed in this version.

However, the mesh insert is removable for cleaning without the need to pull the entire bezel, although fan mounting can be a bit of a pain with the panel bouncing off your hands. We also lost a pair of USB 2.0 ports, which is not a huge deal, but Fractal does sell themselves short here in two ways. Not only do you have two fewer ports for device connectivity, but the users with older gear may not have use of USB 3.0 let alone USB 3.1. We also feel that adding four to six inches of length to all of the fans is not out of the realm of reasonable asks.

Offering such well thought out channels to manage the wires, then making us have to cross the motherboard tray to get to the fan controller seems like something that slipped past them and could be quickly addressed with minimal cost added. Many of these things may not bother the average Joe, and we can appreciate that, but if these things were to be changed, it only perfects a chassis that is well thought out and appointed.

Pricing for the Meshify S2 in most cases is the same as what the Define S2 sold for initially. Right now the Define S2 is on sale, which sort of leaves the value of the Meshify S2 in an odd place. As far as we are aware, the differences are a pair of ports; chassis mounted IO panel and a different front bezel in a side by side comparison.

The only things we think may be new are the reservoir brackets and the cleaning cloth, but they may have come with the Define S2, we cannot confirm it with specifications and site information. Our rule of thumb has always been that to ask $150 in the mid-tower segment; you have to deliver a chassis with every bell and whistle, up to the standards of the day. At $149.99, the Meshify S2 delivered in spades.

A chassis strong enough to last the test of time, and is a chassis that will make many a build a cozy home, no matter your cooling needs or configuration of components. Aside from the lack of USB 2.0 for those on older systems, there is no reason not to give the Meshify S2 Black-Dark TG a chance, unless you are eyeing another of the Meshify S2 variants.

Chad's Chassis Test System Specifications

TweakTown award

The Bottom Line: Feature-rich, solid enough to stand on, aesthetically and airflow improved, the Meshify S2 is nearly perfect. Current pricing will make you take a hard look at whether you want the more affordable Define S2, or the new hotness, the Meshify S2 Black-Dark TG like we have!

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Chad joined the TweakTown team in 2009 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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