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Written by Doug Dallam   
Sunday, 22 January 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
Fractal Design Define XL Computer Case
Closer Look: Exterior
Detailed Exterior Features
Detailed Interior Features
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

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.



# RE: Fractal Design Define XL Computer Case ReviewDoug Dallam 2012-01-22 15:16
Sub-ing and here's to "your message isn't long enough."
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# RE: RE: Fractal Design Define XL Computer Case ReviewBill Egge 2012-02-02 07:56
Looks like a giant black binder.
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# RE: RE: RE: Fractal Design Define XL Computer Case ReviewDoug Dallam 2012-02-02 13:56
LOLz. Thanks Bill for the laugh on the link. And yes it does, a very, very heavy one.
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# RE: Fractal Design Define XL Computer Case ReviewDavid Ramsey 2012-01-22 16:12
Interesting design features in this case...when the front door is closed, where do the front fans get their air intake? It looks as if there might be some airflow in from the sides...
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# RE: Fractal Design Define XL Computer Case ReviewDoug Dallam 2012-01-22 17:30

That is correct, with the addition of the bottom of the bezel that has a pull hole too.
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# Fractal Design Define XL Computer Case ReviewPaleRider 2012-02-01 21:06
You say that we've "a market awash in full tower cases." Exactly how do you arrive at that conclusion?
I just searched NewEgg for "Computer Cases." No specified size. Just "Computer Cases."
NewEgg has 548 "Computer Cases" listed for sale. Looking over at the left side, where this entire section is broken down by numbers of different sized cases, ther are 87 "Full-Tower" cases listed. There are also 8 "Super-Tower" cases listed.
That 95 out of 548 cases that are larger than "Mid-Towers" and smaller cases.
How do you come to the conclusion that we're "awash in Full-Tower cases"?
Why are you reviewing them? There's no way I'd ever trust a single word you print about these larger cases.
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# RE: Fractal Design Define XL Computer Case ReviewAcid Rain 2012-02-02 13:54
If 95 choices of what you put computer parts in isn't a market rich with choices, what is?
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# I still rememberBruce Bruce 2012-02-02 14:01
Does anyone remember when the ONLY cases you could buy were knock-offs of an IBM design? 95 different vendors - ONE design.
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# RE: RE: Fractal Design Define XL Computer Case ReviewDoug Dallam 2012-02-02 14:15
I wssn't going to say anything because it sounds like a troll. But yeah, and not only that, it's around 100 on all sites, including Amazon, and each of those vendors continues to update their full tower offerings at a regular pace.
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# duhMergatroid 2012-02-02 21:18
95 out of 548 cases is "awash" in my books. Anything over 10 would qualify, which means we're pretty much "awash" in all case types. That's pretty true, there's a ton of all sorts of cases available. In fact, I'm surprised there's a big enough market to support them all.

I have to ask, why shouldn't he review them? I enjoy reading about all sorts of cases, and I'm sure others do too. Why should he not review them just because, for some reason, they don't make you happy?

Your message doesn't make any sense to me.
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# RE: duhDoug Dallam 2012-02-02 22:48
Thank Megatroid, but you know the rule: Don't feed the trolls.

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# Computer Case ModderEnigma8750 2012-02-01 21:23
I love the Fractal Design case. As was said in the Review. The case is built like a Volvo. That means it is built to last. Also it is such a great clean Slate for Modder to Work with. Great Case. Awesome work FD.
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# RE: Fractal Design Define XL Computer CaseAthlonite 2012-02-02 16:01
I would have given it a nine out of ten as the top front panel USB and eSATA look #ty and poor positioning of the WC grommets right above the first slot covers oh yeah thats gonna be terrific when it comes time to upgrade that graphics card
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# Would like to see images...whynotv2 2012-02-16 03:42
...with components installed. It's a personal thing, but I prefer seeing a few images with the motherboard, hard drives, etc. installed. Images of the cables actually routed and an "opinion" as to how quiet the case actually is. Good images and physical details (weight of panels with scale, etc.).

Very nice case and has me actually thinking about replacing my Lian-Li case. Now, if this case only came in windowed... :)
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