Pros: Shroud, cable management, clean and compact case
Cons: flimsy front fan mounts
Hey fine people of OCN! Launching today is the Fractal Design Define C series. I have the opportunity to show off the Mini version of the case! The full size can be seen with @bluedevil's review! Now, it's been a while since we've seen a new Define Mini, but from what I gathered the community (myself included) was waiting for a new mATX Define case. Let's explore this case and see if Fractal Design nailed it.
- Define Series sound dampening with ModuVent™ technology for silent operation in a compact micro ATX form factor.
- Optimized for high airflow and silent computing.
- Side and front panels are lined with industrial-grade sound dampening material.
- Flexible storage options with room for up to 5 drives.
- Comes with two preinstalled Fractal Design Dynamic X2 GP-12 120 mm fans optimized to deliver maximum airflow while still maintaining a low noise level.
- Equipped with 5 PCI expansion slots for powerful dual GPU setups.
- Open air designed interior creates an unobstructed airflow path from the front intake to the rear exhaust.
- Easy-to-clean high airflow nylon filters on the front and base with full PSU coverage and front access for convenience.
- Includes optional top filter to prevent dust buildup when ModuVent is removed for additional fan slots.
- Power supply shroud conceals drive cage and excess cabling for an even quieter and cleaner looking interior free of airflow obstructions
The box exterior is clear and shows well what the inside should have. My pictures of the interior packaging didn't come out great, but we've all seen the foam cases come in. Two big blocks, one on each side of the case with the case being itself in a plastic bag preventing any dust entering the case. I really think that nowadays, this should be a minimum for any case manufacturer.
As with the Define series, I was expecting a really clean exterior. The case did not fail to meet my expectations for how clean it looks. The front panel has a brushed aluminium texture, but is made of plastic. Even though it's made of plastic, it doesn't mean it's unpleasant, it's very well executed.
As we can see in the back, the case is set up in the now standard bottom PSU layout. Five expansion slots enable users to build any dual GPU setup they'd want with basically any board that supports it.. Water cooled or not. We also see that the PSU has a removable mounting plate, this means the PSU comes out the back. When I compare to the Phanteks P400, I much prefer this method over having to insert it by the side. We can also see one of Fractal Designs Dynamic X2 GP-12 fan oriented in exhaust.
Diving in. With the side panel removed, we can clearly see where Fractal Design aimed to get a clean build. The shroud is a first for Fractal Design. With a lot of manufacturer's having a line of cases sporting this, it's nice to see them join the party. A bump out can be seen where the edge of full width mATX motherboards would sit enabling users to build very clean builds. All main cable holes have grommets to help clean things up.
The bottom fan filter blends right into the bottom of the front bezel. It pulls out from the front which is something ALL case manufacturers should do. I guess having it pull from the side is OK too if it's well executed. Medium-fine density filters will help keep the big stuff out and some of the smaller stuff also, but poses a bit of restriction.
The top Moduvent has now become a sort of trademark for Fractal. Line with dampening material it helps to lower sound if the extra airflow isn't needed. When removed the Moduvent, we can see that fractal opted to offset the top fan mounts, every, case, manufacturer, should, do, this. Looking at your Phanteks with the P400. Included is also a magnetic filter with medium density filter if used as intake.
Removing the rear side panel we feel how heavy and thick the sound dampening material is, much like other cases front the Define series.
Behind the motherboard tray, Fractal made a bracket to hold three 2.5" drives. One thumb screw holds the whole thing to the rear, which facilitates putting or removing drives.
The rear has a good amount of room for cable management behind the bump out and an OK amount behind the motherboard itself. About 30mm for the bump out and 15mm for the rest. For the bump out, Fractal includes three hook and loop ties to keep things in order.
The front I/O includes the basics, headphone and mic port, two USB 3.0, power button and power LED. The LED is placed faithfully to the Define series, something I really like (since I own a Define R4, it's familiar and nice to see).
The front filter is removable one you remove the front bezel (which isn't connected to the I/O). You need a good tug as it's really well held in place. As with the bottom filter, we have a medium-fine density filter, but this one with the Fractal Logo.
Just a picture of both included fans.
To enable the use of three front 120mm fans, you need to remove the shroud plate covering the HDD cage. The cage is relocatable, so doesn't need removal.
The bottom hard drive cage can be move about two inches closer to the power supply. This is great because if using a front radiator that would need the length to go in the shroud, it can do so by moving the cages. Now, the cages are ONLY removable through the top of the shroud, this I find odd, but I guess it helps keep the case compact.
The box of accessories is clearly identified and contains all screws needed for a simple build.
This is the build I made in the Define Mini C. It's a simple air cooled build, with two huge PWM 140mm fans up front. The build is very clean even without a modular PSU. The case is easy to build in and the only thing I'd like improved is the sturdiness of the front fan mounts, I feel they're a bit filmsy.
This case, true to the Define series, is clean and has great sound dampening properties. I really don't have much to say. This case meets all of my expectations and even more. The best part? It's under $100. With an MSRP of $84.99 I'm sure we'll be seeing this case in quite a few builds!
Aesthetics - 9/10
Features - 9/10
Costs - 9.5/10
Quality - 9/10
For a total of 91.25%! A great case that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend for mATX builds!
Also, check out @bluedevils review of the Define C (non-Mini!) http://www.overclock.net/products/define-c/reviews/7455