The PC Chassis Evolved – A Review Of The Fractal Design Define S

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by J.D. Kane on July 13, 2015 in Cases & PSUs

It’s not often when we get to see PC chassis designs evolve. Generally speaking, they’re all pretty much the same, sharing all of the same features. So when we get something like the Fractal Design Define S, which boasts a feature no other chassis does, we sit up and pay attention. Join us as we take one on a Techgage test drive.

Final Thoughts

I wrote at the onset that the Fractal Design Define S is the next step in the evolution of PC chassis design. The complete absence of the optical drive bays is enough for me to hang that distinction on the Define S. It’s the only non-custom closed chassis that completely eschews 5.25″ drive bays. Its astounding compatibility for water-cooling radiators also represents a leap forward for chassis design; the only hang-ups I would say the Define S has in this regard is that the roof section is too close to the top of the motherboard, thereby making it impossible to use either thick radiators or push-pull fan configurations. It’s a small disappointment.

At least you can put those water-cooling configuration options on the front of the chassis sans fears of not having any space (although you won’t be able to fit a 480mm/560mm radiator there, in case you wanted to). Not only that, but mounting reservoirs internally should be a breeze given that the Define S is specifically designed to accommodate them. (I know I didn’t test the Define S for this, but my next article will put this aspect of the chassis to the test.)

Fractal Design Define S - Angle

Clearly, the Define S is designed with water-cooling in mind. If you want to water-cool your PC, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more user-friendly chassis.

But it’s not just the Define S’ advanced design that impresses me so much. This is probably the best-engineered chassis I’ve tested. Everything fits perfectly, and its performance – thermal and noise-suppression – speaks for itself. And it certainly looks good to my eyes, too. Cool, quiet, sleek, and seemingly able to survive a nuclear explosion (okay, I might be exaggerating here)… what more can you ask for?

So I guess this transcendent chassis would cost, what, close to two Benjamins?

A check with online vendors reveals that the going rate for the Define S is $89.99 for the windowed version, and $79.99 for the non-windowed version.

Fractal Design Define S

Fractal Design could have gotten away with pricing this at least sixty dollars more, in my opinion. But to price it south of $100? That’s nothing short of amazing.

Nothing in the world is perfect.

But the Define S might be the closest thing yet there is, at least in the world of PC chassis.

Pros

  • Superb engineering.
  • Clean, sleek, modern aesthetic.
  • Evolutionary design – look, ma, no optical drive bays!.
  • Water-cooling friendly.
  • Excellent value.

Cons

  • Roof section won’t allow either thick radiators or push-pull fan configurations.

Fractal Design Define S Chassis - Techgage Editor's Choice
Fractal Design Define S Chassis