The true size of the Define XL is apparent when the side panel of the case is removed. This is very simple and only requires the removal of two thumbscrews. Due to the steel construction of the case, the side panels are very heavy and can quite easily slip out of your hands. Although the installation procedure itself isn’t any more difficult than with other cases, the installation guide is one of the worst we’ve experienced as it only has vague instructions and is completely unillustrated.
Fractal have compartmentalised the interior of the case to improve airflow and to force you to manage the PSU cables effectively. Installing the PSU is a relatively simple process, requiring us to screw the PSU into a bracket in the back of the case. We found we had to reinstall this bracket the opposite way up so that the PSU intake fan was positioned in front of the vent on the underside of the case. There is a large cutout next to the PSU which provides ample room to route all your cables behind the motherboard tray. This was perfectly positioned for our Corsair TX650W PSU but longer PSUs may obstruct part of this cutout.
In the bottom part of the case there are also six hard drive bays with removable trays. The trays are coloured white to match the white highlights in the rest of the system. There are three additional hard drive bays in the main compartment for the small proportion of people who will require more than six hard drives. We decided to use a 128GB Kingston SSD in our system which is easily attached to the hard drive tray using four screws in the bottom. Installing 3.5″ devices is just as simple, requiring four larger screws into the bottom of the tray.
Before we install the motherboard into the case, we are required to screw the motherboard standoffs into the motherboard tray. The motherboard can them be screwed in on top of these. To facilitate CPU cooler installation, there is a large cutout in the motherboard tray. This is covered by a flap which is secured with a thumbscrew behind the motherboard tray. Along the right hand side of the motherboard tray there are four cutouts for cable routing with a further one at the top. Unfortunately there isn’t one above the CPU power connector due to the angled roof exhaust but the other cutout at the top can be used for this provided your cables are long enough.
There are also no cutouts at the bottom of the motherboard tray which makes it a little more complicated to route the front panel cables. So we are forced to route all the cables through the four holes to the right of the motherboard unless we remove the plate between the PSU compartment and the main compartment.
At the back of the case, the seven add-in card covers are secured using thumbscrews. There is an additional cover mounted vertically which is perfect for the fan controller that Fractal include in the bundle. But we found that that thumbscrew was secured too tightly to undo by hand and we couldn’t get a screwdriver in there without removing the fan. So we ended up installing the fan controller in the bottom add-in card slot.