|Fractal Design Define XL Computer Case|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cases|
|Written by Doug Dallam|
|Sunday, 22 January 2012|
Page 2 of 5
Closer Look: Interior and Exterior
This is what the entire outside of this case looks like. Matte Color (titanium or black) without blow holes, windows, lights, or anything else. This is the entire I/O panel: audio ports and four USB ports, two being USB 3.0. The USB 3.0 connectors are of the internal type. There is also an external SATA port.
The only visual difference between the sides, top and bottom of the Define XL comes in the form of one side panel intake hole, receiving either one 120mm or one 140mm fan, and the bottom PSU intake with filter. Other than that, they're identical. Below we can see the side panel intake vent with its provided sound insulated cover installed. Yes, this case is sound insulted with extremely dense insulation. On the front bezel, we can see the side intake vents serving the front fans.
Foam inserts cover the bottom chromed plastic feet. A PSU air filter rounds out the bottom.
In this image we see the foam insulation on the main inside door. The door latches magnetically. The plastic front door is also extra thick, no doubt to help with sound insulation. The door is nonremovable.
As shown in the Fractal Design stock photo below, one of the Define XL's unique features is that it's split into three compartments: (1) motherboard compartment, (2) PSU area, and (3) nonremovable drive bay compartment. The top to bottom separator is plastic #2, while the drive bay to PSU separator is steel #3. If you look at the motherboard area, you'll see what looks like a missing cooling tower backplate hole. It's actually a door that you can open or close, completely sealing the motherboard from the cable side area. Why? I have have not a clue.
In this image we see the now open cooling tower backplate hole and the door that covers it. We also see the opposite side front bezel side intake vents that serve the front fans.
Keeping in mind that the Defne XL allows you to seal the bottom drives and the PSU from each other and from the motherboard compartment, the bottom drive's front mounted fan (not included) exhaust needs to go somewhere. In this image, we see where it goes. The exhaust runs out of the hard drive compartment and into the side panel. After it moves into the side panel, it can move in two ways to reach exhaust completion. First, the holes we see here (1) are in the top of the case where the top 180mm fan resides. Second, on the right, we have passive exhaust ventilation holes exhausting from the back of the case (2).
The back of the case is your average back, except for a few items that deserve explanation. Above the exhaust fan we have ventilation holes. Well, those are for the top 180mm fan exhaust. As we'll see later, this innovative design allows for a top exhaust fan without a top exhaust port, reducing fan noise. Note also the vertically mounted expansion cover to the right of the normal expansion card covers. That's for the included fan controller.
If we look right above the PSU hole, we see more ventilation holes. This is for an alternate (or additional) bottom hard drive exhaust option obtained by removing the PSU to hard drive partition. Removing the hard drive to PSU partition allows air from the front, bottom fan to move over the bottom hard drives and pass over the PSU and out of the cases' back. Turning our attention to the left of the case, we see a vertical line of ventilation holes. As we saw in the last image, those are passive exhaust ventilation holes for the bottom hard drive fan.
Here we have a shot of the back 140mm fan and top tilted 180mm back exhausting fan. The 180mm fan carriage is sealed and directs exhaust out of the rear instead of the top. The 180mm fan carriage does protrude into the working area a little; therefore, if you have trouble working on your rig, simply unscrew the fan carriage (four screws) and the entire assembly drops out.
It's now obvious that the Define XL is a case with many options. Next, we'll cover those options in more detail.