Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Fractal Design is no stranger to our case testing and probably to most of you reading this. Their Define series over the past several years have defined (pun intended) the Fractal Design stance on how the PC chassis should be designed along with its evolutionary progress. This has garnered Fractal an almost cult-like following, which many manufacturers would likely give precious body parts to achieve. Fractal Design, along with other incumbents in the industry such as Be Quiet and Nanoxia albeit smaller, has pushed the industry towards adopting silence focused PC chassis options.
The chassis we have today is the Define 7, and it is the next evolution of the Define series. This time Fractal has opted to remove the R or S series designation form the Define series. While simplifying things, this may end up limiting their lateral scalability due to having to adopt a new identifier now should they decide to make new models of the Define 7 series, such as the Define 7 XL, which launches alongside the standard Define 7. As stated in the first paragraph of this coverage, Fractal has always had its roots in creating a silence focused enclosure. Still, they have done serious work in offering modularity to the platform. This will ensure users can get airflow and balance the silence to match their cooling needs and audibility desires.
Key features as pulled from the Fractal Design source materials are as follows:
- Spacious and extensively adaptable dual-layout interior easily accommodates large motherboards up to and including E-ATX
- Support for radiators up to 360 mm in front, 420 mm up top, or 280 mm in the base in the default Open Layout
- Convert to Storage Layout for up to 14 HDDs along with 4 dedicated SSD mounts and one ODD bay (6 HDD/SSD + 2 SSD brackets + 1 multi-bracket included)
- 5.25" ODD bay converts to an additional 140 mm front fan mount with filtered louver covering
- Silence-optimized construction with industrial sound-damping bitumen on the front, top, and side panels
- Top cover can be removed to swap in the included ventilated top panel for additional cooling options
- New chassis design opens up to fully expose the case interior on three sides for totally unhindered installation and cable routing
- Anodized aluminum front panel with reversible dual-handed hinges and magnetic latching
- Nine 120/140 mm fan mounts with three preinstalled Dynamic X2 GP-14 fans
- Versatile new multi-brackets convert any unused fan position to an HDD, SSD, pump or reservoir mount
- Two vertical GPU slots for use with the Flex VRC PCIe riser (available separately)
- Five front USB ports including one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
- Ultra-slim Nexus+ 2 fan hub with three PWM and six 3-pin connections logically placed in-line with cable channels
- Redesigned HDD cages with sturdy four-point supports
- Tool-less, top-latching panels offer quick access and prevent accidental drops
- Bridgeless expansion slots ensure obstruction-free connections
- Ventilated PSU shroud with two-part removable cover and additional SSD/multi-bracket mounts
- Easy-to-clean high airflow nylon filters on the front, top and base with full PSU coverage and convenient front access
- Detachable PSU cable shield and integrated cable guides with Velcro straps simplify cable management behind the board
As you can see, Fractal is quite proud of the new Define 7 and has at least on paper done a lot to push the Define series to a new level of modularity, silence, and performance. Now let's take a look at the specs and what they add to the puzzle.
The chassis is the Define 7, has several versions (9 versions) based on various color options, along with TG or solid and even tint level of the glass models. The Define we have today is the black with Dark TG, which comes with a part number of FD-C-DEF7A-03. As you can see below, the nine models of Define 7 are also joined by a larger Define 7 XL option, which reaches up to $209. The measurements for the Define 7 is 475mm high, 547mm deep, and 240mm in width.
This is very sizable for a mid-tower chassis, but it also means we likely will not see issues with a top-mounted 120mm based AIO or Radiator for custom liquid cooling. This is a trap many mid-towers we have witnessed recently fall into. The XL version measures in a bit larger at 566mm in height, 604mm deep, and 240mm in width. This enables the XL version to offer more 120mm fitment for even more extensive liquid cooling options for fitment.
- Define 7 Black Solid ($159.99)
- Define 7 Black TG Light Tint ($169.99)
- Define 7 Black TG Dark Tint ($169.99)
- Define 7 Black/White Solid ($159.99)
- Define 7 Black/White TG Clear Tint ($169.99)
- Define 7 White Solid ($159.99)
- Define 7 White TG Clear Tint ($169.99)
- Define 7 Gray Solid ($159.99)
- Define 7 Gray TG Light Tint ($169.99)
- Define 7 XL Black Solid ($199.99)
- Define 7 XL Black TG Light Tint ($209.99)
- Define 7 XL Black TG Dark Tint ($209.99)
While the list may be sizable, do note that there are only a few price levels. The solid Define 7 regardless of color will have an MSRP of $159.99, Add tempered glass, and it rises to $169.99. The XL version starts at $199.99 for the solid version, and the tempered glass options increase this again by ten dollars to $209.99.
Motherboard fitment for the Define 7 is from ITX up to EATX. Opting for the XL will get you to support up to SSI CEB and EEB. This means that this Fractal chassis can fit some of the most extensive multi-socket workstation configurations, which makes some sense as professional system integrators such as Puget Systems use Fractal chassis. I think this one will fit their needs nicely for the heavier lifting. HDD and SSD fitment for the Define 7 reaches up to seven 3.5" & 2.5" mounts with the included hardware and expandable up to fourteen if needed. Dedicated 2.5" mounting is two out of the box but can be expanded to up to four if you purchase more trays separately.
The XL model comes standard with eight 3.5" and 2.5" mounts and can expand up to eighteen. 2.5" fitment for the XL is the same two included but can be expanded up to five total with extra trays. PSU fitment for both models is virtually unlimited with the preinstalled single HDD cage. The PSU area reaches up to 353mm with one cage in the Define 7 while the XL reaches up to 386mm. Installing two HDD cages drops PSU length to 227mm and 260mm for the XL version. This is more than enough for any current-gen PSU, even the insane long 1600W units.
Cooling fitment has grown quite a lot compared to previous Define series chassis. Define 7 can fit up to nine 120 or 140mm fans. The XL version can fit up to eleven 120mm fans or nine 140mm fans. Radiator fitment for the Define 7 can fit up to a 360mm or 280mm up front; the top can fit up to 360mm or 420mm, the rear is up to 120mm, and the bottom even offers up to 240 or 280mm. The XL version offers up to 480mm or 420mm in the front and top, while the rear and bottom provide the same 120 and 240 or 280mm mix. The CPU air cooler limit should you opt for a tower that would be 185mm on both the standard and XL models. Both the standard Define 7 and the XL version come with three 140mm based DC chassis fans, two in the front intake and one rear as exhaust.
The price, as mentioned previously for the model we have on hand is $169.99 MSRP for our black model with dark tinted tempered glass. This places the Define 7 in a higher-priced range where features and build quality start to be needled down upon, and feature sets can make a world of difference. The competition for Define 7 is as follows. At ten dollars below the Define 7, we have the H500P from Cooler Master, Fractals own Define R6, and even the Crystal 570X from Corsair. At the same price point, we have the PM01 from SilverStone and the NZXT H710i models.
At slightly above the Define 7 price point at up to $179.99, we see the Define S2 vision from Fractal and the Mirror version of the 570X. So, it does seem that Fractal has some stout competition, even if over half of it is its chassis models.
Shannon's Chassis Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi) Z390 (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i7 8700K (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H60 (buy from Amazon)
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB CMW32GX4M4C3000C15 (buy from Amazon)
- Video Card: MSI GeForce RTX 2060 Gaming Z (buy from Amazon)
- Storage: SanDisk M.2 256GB
- Power Supply: SilverStone Strider Platinum 1000W (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
Last updated: Feb 21, 2020 at 06:11 am CST