Fractal Design Define XL Full Tower Case Review

 

Exterior

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The box comes in Fractal Design's grey-scale color scheme with blue accents, and standard packaging for a computer chassis.  The case is shrouded in a plastic bag and then cushioned by molded styrofoam inserts as you'd probably expect.

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Like we mentioned, the outside of the Define XL is stylishly devoid of any complicated contours, lights, windows, and for the most part, fan vents.  We see one vent on the side of the case, but out of the box is covered with sound-absorbing material to make the Define XL as quiet as possible.  We also note the front panel has vents on both sides which run the entire height of the case to allow plenty of air inside the front door to allow for adequate cool air intake without intruding on the clean look of the front panel.  The case is actually quite heavy at around 18 kg (~40 lbs), and is a result of a very sturdy build made mostly out of steel.

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From afar, the front door appears to be a semi-glossy black, but upon closer inspection it has a brushed aluminum look.  The door is made of plastic, but the plastic is very sturdy and there is little to no creaking noticed.  The front panel fits on very tight, and has tabs which may be pressed when the side panels are removed in order pull the front panel off.  The door is hinged on one side of the case, and the hinge may not be switched, so you won't be able to configure the door to your particular setup.  We also see that the inside of the door is covered in sound-dampening foam to help ensure that you hear as little as possible from your case.

With the door swung open, the drive bay covers have a very nice latching system which holds them in place and are all slightly vented for the additional installation of a 140mm intake fan in the upper drive bay.  Additionally, with a simple press on the upper and lower corners the fan cover springs open.  The 140 mm white front fan is revealed, along with a second spot to mount an additional front 140 mm, both of which are filtered.  The fan tray swings open to allow quick installation of additional 140mm fans via clips which snap over the frame of the fans and also allows easy access to clean the filters.

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The upper I/O panel is fittingly clean and simple, with a 3.5mm microphone and headphone input, the main power with a blue power LED halo around it which extends downward onto the front face of the case.  To round it off, there are also two USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports with an internal header which connects to the motherboard.

The back panel is fairly standard apart from added venting above the power supply for air intake into the lower thermal chamber, which we'll discuss in the "Internal' section, and a vertical expansion slot for cards which have a cable connection to the motherboard.  There is also added venting along the back panel to allow some air intake and airflow from the rear side of the motherboard tray.  You'll also notice the large vent near the top above the rear 140 mm exhaust fan, which is a unique vent for the upper 180 mm fan, which, again, we'll discuss in more detail in the "Internal" section.  The only issues we had is that he grommets for the watercooling hose is rather soft and is rather easily forced out of the holes.

The bottom of the case has large silver feet with large rubber pads on the bottoms to prevent slipping.  There is also a bottom fan filter which easily slides out for quick and easy cleaning when a downward-facing power supply configuration is used.  The bottom of the front panel has an additional vent for intaking underneath the front door to the (up to) three front intake fans, which also doubles as a "handle' when removing the front panel.

 

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