So we all know the Define series from Fractal Design, the Define R5, R6, S2, S2 RGB Vision and so on. Well today we have the Define 7, yep the R is dropped, but what has Fractal added to make the Define 7 worthy of your hardware?
Hey what’s up OCNers? I am bluedevil. Today we are going to look at the Fractal Design Define 7, which the model that was sent is the Black White Tempered glass model, which is 1 of 9 different configurations for the Define 7. The other case that Fractal launched is the Define 7 XL, which shares every characteristic of the Define 7, but is much larger.
So why don’t we take a walk around the Define 7? To kick things off, the Define 7 really is not that much different than its predecessor, the Define R6. The R is dropped in the naming convention, probably to be more distinctive of the revisions that were made to the Define 7. Fractal Design, at least with the Define series, has mainly played it safe. Played it safe, meaning, the Define 7s featureset are exactly what consumers are asking for and nothing more. Fractal even just started making RGB fans this year, resisting the unicorn vomit movement for as long as they could. However with cases like the Define S2 RGB Vision, the cat’s out of the bag for that one. The Define 7 still has clean smooth lines, whilst maintaining the Scandinavian minimalist look.
The front panel, which is still a door, which still has the trademark brushed metal finish, but this time with the new embossed Fractal Design logo. Opening the door up, and you will see another staple of Fractal’s Define series, the front fan intake filter. While still supporting 5.25” drives, you’d only really notice by looking for the mounts, which are almost camouflaged by two of three included 140mm Dynamic X2 GP-14 fans that spin at 1000 RPM. On the bottom of the front panel, is another norm for Fractal, the full length PSU filter, cleverly accessible from the front of the case.
Moving to the business side, you are greeted by the side air intake louvers, which from the looks of it, have been spaced wider apart then the R6, which should improve airflow. Looking at the tempered glass panel, IMO a lot of companies can’t figure out a better way to secure other than using thumbscrews, made me thank Fractal for making such a great retention system on the Define 7. To remove the tempered glass side panel, a plastic tab is attached to the upper right corner, pulling the tab will allow the panel to be released from the push pin style retention system, allowing for a tool less entry into the Define 7. Shifting to the rear of the Define 7, is pretty standard stuff, psu bracket, and a clean finished look with all matching PCIe brackets. Two vertical PCIe slots are visible, with about an inch and half of clearance to the tempered glass. Spacing for either a 120 or 140mm fan of which is occupied with the last of the 140mm included fans.
Topside, the Define 7 is where it differs the most from its predecessor. Gone is the Moduvent system with different panels, which Fractal now includes two different top plates. The first one, which is a flat, more silence focused top panel, is pre installed using the same push pin retention system found on the side panels. Once the top panel is removed, giving access to the third fan filter that spans almost the length of the top panel itself. Under the fan filter is a removable access panel that really opens up the Define 7 for installation. Having a removable access panel is great for pre mounting water cooling radiators and or fans. Also the access panel has offset mounting for improved motherboard installation with water cooling in mind. As you can see, I have set up a full water cooling CPU loop in the Define 7. I originally wanted to put my 320mm radiator in using the top access panel, but the Swiftech Maelstrom D5 Res Pump combo that I am using is too big. I mounted the pump res combo on top of the 3.5” drive cage in the basement, which houses 2 3.5”or 3 2.5” drives. Back to the top panel, front IO now is accompanied by a USB Type C Gen 2 port along with 2 USB 2.0 and 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports. Also preset are headphone and mic jacks, as well as a reset button, and a very tactile power button.
The installed system is my test system which consists of an 8700K overclocked to 5Ghz in a Asus Z370 Maximus X Code, 32GB of Team Group’s T Force Delta R RGB DDR4 at 3000mhz, for storage is a Intel 760P M.2 NVME 256GB SSD and Team Group’s Vulcan Z 500GB 2.5” SSD, providing graphics is a Nvidia RTX 2080 Super FE, and rounding out power is BeQuiet’s platinum rated Straight Power 11 at 650 watts.
Running this system idle temps were about 33C idle with load temps dipping in the high 80s while running Aida64 Extreme’s stress test. I had moved the two 140mm Dynamic X2 GP-14 fans from the front to the roof because of radiator and reservoir placement, replacing them with three Cooler Master Masterfan Pro 120AP fans on my 360mm radiator. Given the placement of fans, I have no questionable doubt that had I been able to mount the 320mm rad in the roof, temps would have been better having the two X2 GP-14 fans in the front pulling in cooler air for the rest of the system to breath better. Or at the very least, get better 120mm fans.
Functionality, the Define 7 does just about everything right. I found it extremely easy to build in, especially with the Define 7’s excellent water cooling support. The two tone black and white model, is a love it or hate it kinda thing. Personally, I don’t mind it. So OCNers have mentioned to me, that the white PSU shroud is a bit off putting, but I can see the reasoning Fractal had with continuing the color palette from the motherboard tray as well as the modular back wall.
Aesthetically, the Define 7 doesn’t really change a lot of what made the Define series unique. Instead, small changes are what we are receiving as case revisions are made. The most impactful improvements I see are actually in the cable management department. Very clean cable runs are possible and are easy to pull off thanks to that cable management system that Fractal seems to have borrowed from NZXT. Now cable management channels in a sense have been created to manage the spaghetti monster of cabling almost every build has. Also Fractal has included a shroud for the backside of the PSU compartment, making it even easier to hide additional cables from the PSU. Also complementing cable management is the perfectly placed 9 fan hub in the very top center of the back of the motherboard tray, another thing water coolers are going to like.
So in conclusion, the Define 7 from Fractal Design is in my opinion, damn near perfect. However some things I would have liked to see would have a rubber grommet in the upper left corner of the PSU shroud, as well as front ventilation being a bit more open. Maybe where the bottom filter is located, possibly shorting that up and making an opening from the bottom to allow more air to be let in to the front.
That being said, the Define 7 from Fractal Design gets the “HOT” award.
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