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Fractal Design Define 7 / XL Review

Rating: 9.0.

You can trace the lineage of the new Fractal Design Define 7 from the much-loved Define R6 that we reviewed in December 2017 with stops along the way for the Define S2 in October 2018 and the Define S2 Meshify in February 2019. What we’re trying to say is that Define 7 has been a long time coming and we are happy to report the wait has been worthwhile.

Watch via our Vimeo Channel (Below) or over on YouTube at 2160p HERE

Please note: In our video we inadvertently quote US Dollar prices for the two models (USD169.99 and USD209.99) where the correct UK prices are £154.99 and £199.99 with Tempered Glass panels. This negates the comment in the conclusion of the video where we say the Define is 7 is ‘slightly over priced’. The realisation about pricing does not affect our verdict on Define 7.

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We give a brief run down of the larger Define 7 XL in our video, although the main focus of our review is the mid-tower Define 7.

Specifications:

  • 3.5″/2.5″ drive mounts: 6 + 1 included, 14 max
  • Dedicated 2.5″ mounts: 2 included, 4 max
  • 5.25″ drive bays: 1
  • Expansion slots: 7 + 2 vertical
  • Motherboard compatibility: E-ATX / ATX / mATX / ITX • ATX
  • Power supply type: ATX
  • Front interface: 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C. 2 x USB 3.0. 2 x USB 2.0. Audio I/O. Power/Reset buttons
  • Total fan mounts: 9 x 120/140 mm
  • Front fan: 3 x 120/140 mm (2 x 140 mm fans included)
  • Top fan: 3 x 120/140 mm
  • Rear fan: 1 x 120/140 mm (1 x 140 mm fan included)
  • Bottom fan: 2 x 120/140 mm
  • Dust filters: Bottom fan + PSU. Front fans + ODD bay. Top panel
  • Front radiator: Up to 360/280 mm
  • Top radiator: Up to 360/420 mm
  • Rear radiator: 120mm
  • Bottom radiator: Up to 240/280 mm
  • PSU max length: 353 mm w/ one HDD cage, 227 mm w/ two HDD cages (cages in max forward position; additional space required for front fans/radiators installed below the shroud)
  • GPU max length: 491 mm total. 467 mm with front fan. 315 mm in Storage Layout for cards over 150 mm width (including power connectors)
  • CPU cooler max height: 185mm
  • Cable routing space: 30 mm
  • Cable routing grommets: Yes
  • Fixed Velcro straps: Yes
  • Tool-less push-to-lock: Both side panels and top
  • Captive thumbscrews: HDD brackets, SSD brackets
  • Case Material: Steel, Tempered Glass
  • Left side panel: Sound-damped steel or Tempered glass
  • Right side panel: Sound-damped steel
  • Case dimensions (LxWxH): 547 x 240 x 475 mm
  • Case dimensions w/o feet/protrusions/screws: 533 x 240 x 451 mm
  • Net weight: Solid: 13.49 kg / TG: 13.45 kg
  • Package dimensions (LxWxH): 558 x 363 x 641 mm
  • Gross weight: Solid: 15.98 kg / TG: 15.94 kg

Removing the panels from the Define 7 was a revelation as Fractal Design has taken the concept of tool-free to new levels. The impressive point is that the various panels snap on and off with a satisfying click while the build quality still feels impressively solid. This is a tricky balance and Fractal Design deserves hearty congratulations. It is a similar story on the back of the case where they have worked diligently on cable management. It is a matter of personal taste that Phanteks does a slightly better job with the EvolvX however Fractal is streets ahead of most of its competition. You can build a PC inside Define 7 very, very quickly.

Testing

Test system specifications:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
  • Cooler: Fractal Design Celsius S36
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite
  • Memory: 32GB G.Skill TridentZ Neo DDR4-3600MHz
  • Graphics: Nvidia RTX 2080 8GB GDDR5
  • SSD: 1TB WD Black M.2 NVMe
  • Power Supply: Seasonic Focus PX-850 Platinum 850W

Cooling Performance

Cooling Performance Overview

We pushed the Define 7 to its limits with a combination of AMD Ryzen 9 3900X CPU and Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics and we hammered that hardware with AIDA64. The Define 7 passed the test by the skin of its teeth but it is obvious the cooling fans have a relatively slow spin speed and the front door clearly restricts air flow. Based on extensive personal experience with the Define R6 we are confident the Define 7 will happily handle a lesser CPU without difficulty.

If we were using the Define 7 in a gaming or workstation we would very likely remove the front door. As we say in our video, this case will likely feature when we look at some liquid cooling hardware and that will give us a better understanding of its capabilities.

Noise Levels

With the three stock 140mm fans and the three 120mm PWM fans on the Celsius S36 cooler we were impressed at the low noise levels from the Define 7.

Closing Thoughts

It was clear throughout 2019 that Fractal Design needed to update the Define R6 and S2 and wallop, here we are at the start of 2020 with the Define 7 and its larger sibling the Define 7 XL. We can see that some people want a huge case for a workstation/tower/project but the XL is simply too large for our tastes.

By contrast the Define 7 is only slightly larger than the R6 however it feels much larger inside. You can practically stand the other side of the room and hurl your motherboard towards the Define 7 and be confident it will land in the correct position. The space inside the main compartment is a revelation while around the other side you have a decent amount of storage and also plenty of space for the cables.

You won’t run into tough decisions unless you ramp up the number of storage drives and also choose a cooling system with multiple radiators, however we are confident you will be able to figure out a solution. Fractal gives you an amazing list of options with the Define 7.

One area of weakeness is the choice of 140mm fans as we want to see PWM models and the same applies to the fan hub which should, in our opinion, be fully PWM.

That is pretty much our only criticism of the Define 7 and we come to the end of this review with a satisfied feeling and a big smile on our collective face.

You can buy the Fractal Design Define 7 for £154.99 HERE.

You can buy the Fractal Design Define 7 XL for £199.99 HERE.

Pros

  • Those tool-free panels are very clever.
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Loads of working room inside the case.
  • Good cable management.
  • Options for a huge number of drive bays.
  • You can install almost any cooling hardware you choose.

Cons

  • Fan hub is a mix of 3-pin and 4-pin.
  • We want the three 140mm fans to be upgraded to PWM!
  • The front door restricts air flow.

KitGuru says: We’ve waited a long time for an update of Define R6 and Fractal has delivered a stellar case for 2020.

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Rating: 9.0.

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