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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

Detailed Interior Features

If you want airflow from the bottom drive cage area to flow out of the PSU compartment exhaust area, then remove the separator panel between the PSU and bottom hard drive compartments, as shown below. Otherwise, the bottom front drive fan exhausts into the cable side panel to be sucked out by the top 180mm fan and passively through the rear vents, as shown earlier.


Here we have a shot of the PSU top ventilation option. You can leave the PSU facing downward, or if you want to use it for additional exhaust, pull this panel out and turn the PSU upward. This passageway also doubles as an optional cable runway.


This shot doesn't look like anything special, but if you notice the air holes for the top and bottom drives, you'll notice that the bottom drive cages have much larger air holes between them than does the top cage. You can turn the top drive cage to face the drives either back into the case, for better cooling, or sideways, for better cable routing. Or, you can take the top cage completely out. The bottom drive cages, however, are not removable.


This is an image of the top cage completely removed, showing the mounting connectors and the top cage guide rail (in the case). The cage just slides in either direction you need, drives facing sideways or backwards. Two thumb screws, which are the same for all connectors in this case, secure the cage. The tool-less drive mounts are excellent quality, made of steel, and snap in firmly. They are exactly like Cooler Master's, if you're familiar with them.


When I first lifted this case, I almost suffered a hernia. This case is solid, and then some, weighing in at 39.5 lbs. The side panels alone weigh in at nearly 7.0 lbs each. As you can see, the scale reads 6.9 lbs. There are two reasons for this: The sound material on both panels is extremely dense and the panel steel is very thick. (Below: side air intake with its fan hole insulated cover installed).


Can you believe this? That's 0.047” thick! I've never measures a case with panels this thick. Most fall into the 0.025” to 0.030” area. The Define XL is built like a Volvo.


Here's what the PSU compartment looks like with a 140mm PSU mounted. Notice it comes right out to the edge of the cable holes.


Here's what it looks like with a 180mm PSU. So, yes, you're blocking the cable routing hole somewhat, but you can still get your cables behind the PSU with a little threading. The other option is to remove the PSU top hatch and run cables from the top. And, unless you have cable extensions, you may need to use that option (e.g., video card power cables). A 180mm PSU is the largest recommended for this case.


Let's get some measurements now. Cable space is good at one inch. I measured it through the CPU backplate hole to the side panel.


From the motherboard standoffs, you get almost 8.0” of space for cooling towers.


With the top drive cage installed, you have approximately 13.5” of video card space. Without the top drive cage, space is virtually unlimited.


Well, there you have some information on a very large and very solidly built case, with some unique options. Let's finish off with some words and the conclusion.



# 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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