Articles: Cases/PSU
 

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The interior design of the Define XL resembles Antec’s Performance One series with two distinctly outlined compartments: one for the mainboard and another for the power supply unit. There are discrepancies, however, and they are not in favor of the Fractal Design solution.

As opposed to Antec products, there is no opening in the partition that separates the mainboard and PSU compartments, so if you need to route even a single cable directly from one compartment into another, you have to remove the partition altogether. With our components, we had to do this in order to connect the CPU power cable which turned out to be too short to be routed behind the mainboard’s mounting plate. The latter has a hole for it, but it's not located in the right place because the better position is blocked by the frame of the top 180mm fan.

Similar to the mentioned Antecs, a PSU is mounted onto a special plate with vibration-absorbing pad. The plate can be attached to the PSU in one way only (as opposed to the mounting holes of the other Fractal Design cases) but you can turn it around by 180 degrees together with the PSU.

We guess this solution only makes the system case more expensive and difficult to deal with (in the Antec products it is necessary to ensure compatibility with standard ATX power supplies as well as with Antec's exclusive CP series PSUs).

The PSU bay is protected with a dust filter from below.

The hole for routing power cables into the hidden compartment behind the mainboard’s mounting plate is going to be partially blocked even by a standard-size PSU. You won't be able to use that opening at all if your PSU is longer than standard.

We can’t say that the developer has forgotten about long PSUs altogether. The maximum supported length is 180 millimeters (which isn’t much for a system case of that size, though) and the vibration-absorbing elements are designed for that length. But again, it’s going to be difficult to route the power cables into the completely blocked opening in the mainboard’s mounting plate even if your PSU is no longer than 180 millimeters. We just wonder why the developer couldn't have moved that opening forward by just a few centimeters.

 

Here’s another questionable innovation to you: the cutout for the CPU cooler’s back-plate has a plastic cover. We just can't find anything useful about this solution.

The cutout itself is somewhat larger than in the Arc and the largest among the four Fractal Design products.

All in all, this is not an Antec. We don’t get the feeling of high quality and thought-through design as with Antec products. On the other hand, the Define XL is considerably cheaper whereas the acoustic comfort of the Define series is superior thanks to the lower speed of the fans and more efficient (by our subjective impressions) soundproofing.

The top removable disk rack is designed in the same way as the Arc’s. It has four bays and can be turned around by 90 degrees.

The dual bottom rack looks like two bottom racks of the Core 3000 placed next to each other. There is no bottom fan seat due to the lack of space.

The disk guides are the same as in the Core 3000.

The 3.5-inch adapter is identical to those of the Core 3000 and Define R3.

  

The Define XL offers the largest interior among the four system cases: 33 centimeters for expansion cards if the top disk rack is installed and as many as 48 centimeters if it’s removed. This should be more than enough for any cards.

Thanks to the large dimensions, the case is equipped with 140mm fans on the front and rear panels (660 RPM to 1040 RPM: the minimum speed varies again between different samples of the speed controller). There’s also a 180mm fan at the top.

Unfortunately, the efficiency of the biggest fan is far from high. It blows right into the top of the case, the air being driven along a narrow path that ends in a modest-sized grid at the top of the rear panel. This solution helps make the system case look better by removing vent grids from its top panel but at the expense of cooling efficiency. Moreover, there is still a conspicuous vent grid in the side panel.

The Define XL has fewer places for optional fans than the other Fractal Design products. You can add two front-panel fans (one 120/140mm fan opposite the bottom disk rack and one 120mm fan opposite unused 5.25-inch bays) and one 120/140mm fan on the side panel.

 

As is the case with most PC enclosures that have a front door, the only difference between an empty and assembled Define XL is in the shining Power indicator.

Highs:

  • Imposing exterior
  • Good noise insulation
  • Large interior
  • Accommodates up to 10 disks of 2.5 and 3.5-inch form-factors
  • Speed controller for three fans

Lows:

  • Some design shortcomings that hinder the assembly process
  • Virtually incompatible with PSUs longer than standard
  • Low performance of the 180mm fan
 
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