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Thread: Another Fractal Design Case review...

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    Anti-Viral Pleiades's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Another Fractal Design Case review...

    This is my first review here so bear with me :-)

    You might think there's not much else one can say about these PC enclosures; and you'd be correct!

    Nonetheless, this particular box has a few features that make it stand out, just a little, from the intense competition that prevails at its entry level price point so I will add my 2 cents for what its worth...

    Firstly, though I've heard of Fractal Design, I've never owned one of their cases; I've heard many positive reviews however and was looking forward to handling one myself. This 'S' case certainly doesn't stand out from the crowd aesthetically - it's basically an imposing but relatively generic big black box (BBB) that resembles the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. From a company called Fractal Design, there doesn't appear to be a huge amount spent on external looks and definitely doesn't use the Mandelbrot set (which might suggest a snowflake-shaped case; or indeed one based on the shoreline of Norway as Slartibartfast might propose). Nevertheless it's smart and with the large side-window, a practical way to show off the shiny and lit-up bits of your internals Unfortunately I have no pretty bits to view (I mean computer-wise) so the window is pretty pointless - it has also garnered a scratch already...

    The simple understated look is due to the fact that there are no front bays at all - so don't think you can fit a Blu-Ray, floppy disk, card reader or fan monitor on the front. The plastic frontispiece just pulls of to reveal a dust filter covering the 3x fan mounts. Air is sucked in from the sides of the fascia but it appears not to impair flow in the slightest. 2 USB 3.0 sockets, headphone and mic sockets (and a power button with restrained blue lighting - compared to the HAF, which I've covered with duct tape!) are on top.

    Personally I'd have preferred the non-windowed case if I were to purchase this model myself: it has (another!) fan plus soundproofing. Speaking of which, the backside panel has soundproofing and the top panels reduce noise too - however, any fans fitted up there will rather invalidate the effect. The non-windowed model would also fit in better next to hi-fi components in the living room I feel; it has the look of a subwoofer from the front. Of course the prodigious length will make it less than easy to tuck away discreetly.

    I will be using this as a Steam Box/Streamer and am not too bothered by the fan noise but it'd be noticeable when streaming films.

    The dimensions are actually far larger than I anticipated: 238x458x520mm


    For comparison: Silverstone Sugo, Define S, CoolerMaster HAF.



    Note the huge amount of dust the HAF932 has sucked into the front by the 230 mm fan there. In my defence, I live near a crematorium!

    It's the same length as the HAF, only 5 or 6 cm shorter and a couple cm less wide. I was surprised by the heft of it, was certainly not expecting it to be this big! It's not heavy though (as the steel isn't that thick and the front panel is plastic). The great surprise is the colossal amount of space inside; really easy to work with and one of the reasons I usually choose full-towers. Because of the lack of drive bays (there appears no way to add any later) the whole front half of the case is effectively empty - a great place to store all those pesky wires and cables, not to mention an internal reservoir if so desired.

    Side and front removed, showing the nice white fans and backplates:




    All drives are placed at the back, 2x 2.5" and 3x for either size HDs. 'Only' 5 spaces might be limiting for some users but personally I think it's more than sufficient for home use, especially if you have 1 or more M.2 SSDs on the motherboard as well. The next model up (Define R) is more practical if you want more drive bays.



    My prize included 3 140mm Venturi fans and boy do they go! Compared with the stock internal ones, they appear to have a far higher CFM throughput - you just need to place your hand behind one or the other to feel the difference - more airflow than the top 230mm in the HAF for sure. They don't stand out visually compared to the natty white ones supplied though...




    OTOH I'd have preferred 2x 200mm on top as the 140mm ones leave a big gap for dust to fall through when the computer is off. There's no dust filter on top but one covering the front 3x fan mounts and a full length floor filter. The filter on the bottom slides out whereas the front one clips on magnetically (I wish more use was made of magnets, screws seem so old-school - I realise some claim that strong magnets can interfere with electronics but I suspect they'd have to be HUGE ones).

    I utilised some left over parts to make a quick build using a Pentium AE . This particular Asrock Anniversary motherboard is titchy and so shows up the empty space more. I did like the pre-fitted stanchion that enabled easy mobo settling. The package included standoffs and a very useful tool for tightening/removing them, which I've never received with a case before.



    IMO having 8 fans in total is probably overkill - the interesting thing about this case is its flexibility especially when it comes to water-cooling, an endeavour I've never tried due to being sceptical of the price-performance ratio. Being able to fit 2x 360 rads (or even 420 up top) is quite a beguiling prospect.
    I was terrible with the cable (non-) routing but when I get the chance I will pop them round the back which will leave the case looking very empty indeed without an internal radiator, graphics & other add-in cards to fill the space...

    Note the tanned and toned legs reflected in the glass



    All in all, a great case, one I admittedly would not have considered without actually getting my hands on one. Just the space available and the cooling potential make it an interesting prospect for those who want something above a budget box but without the sometimes unwarranted price tag of higher end models.

    I was going to do a longer review but tbh I think "assassin" has covered it with his earlier comprehensive assessment in much greater detail!

    PS Sorry about the poor quality pics!




    ------------------

    Valar Morghulis

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    Yay a custom user title! =assassin='s Avatar
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    Re: Another Fractal Design Case review...

    A good review! We've got ours out of the way now I suppose as you're using it as a Steam Box/Streamer, then you'd probably only need a single fan for cooling, since I doubt it'll get all that hot in there with just the onboard graphics. Maybe with that low speed adapter cable from the Venturi fan pack, it might make it quite quiet(?)

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    Anti-Viral Pleiades's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Another Fractal Design Case review...

    Quote Originally Posted by =assassin= View Post
    A good review! We've got ours out of the way now I suppose as you're using it as a Steam Box/Streamer, then you'd probably only need a single fan for cooling, since I doubt it'll get all that hot in there with just the onboard graphics. Maybe with that low speed adapter cable from the Venturi fan pack, it might make it quite quiet(?)
    I kinda like those fans in there tbh, got nowhere else to put them atm. Maybe I'll use the Fractal instead of HAF for next upgrade, I've a feeling it has better overall cooling potential...

    But yeah, I'd forgotten about the low speed adapters, good call
    ------------------

    Valar Morghulis

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    Alien Symbiote Sumanji's Avatar
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    Re: Another Fractal Design Case review...

    Nice review, thanks for posting Pleiades!

    I have to say though, given a case that is massively geared around cable management, you have not done a particularly stellar job with the wiring

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    Re: Another Fractal Design Case review...

    Great review. I've been looking into this case

  9. #6
    Anti-Viral Pleiades's Avatar
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    • Pleiades's system
      • Motherboard:
      • MSI Z-97 Gaming 5
      • CPU:
      • 4690K @ 4GHz / Phanteks TC-12DX
      • Memory:
      • 16 GiB HyperX
      • Storage:
      • Sandisk 480GiB; Transcend M.2 256GiB; Velociraptor 300GB
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Sapphire Pulse RX580 8GiB
      • PSU:
      • BeQuiet Straight Power 800w
      • Case:
      • CoolerMaster HAF932
      • Operating System:
      • Win 10
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell 2005 20"; Qnix 27" 2560x1440 120hz IPS; Samsung 49" 9500 HDR UHD TV
      • Internet:
      • Virgin 70 Mibs

    Re: Another Fractal Design Case review...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sumanji View Post
    Nice review, thanks for posting Pleiades!

    I have to say though, given a case that is massively geared around cable management, you have not done a particularly stellar job with the wiring
    Yep, was in a hurry, am going to rectify that at some point!
    ------------------

    Valar Morghulis

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