Fractal Design Define XL Black Pearl Case Review

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The inside of the Fractal Design Define XL

Moving to the inside we can start to see why this case weighs as much as a small elephant before installing any hardware. Fractal made a point of trying to make this case dead silent which translates to heavy steel construction and copious amounts of sound deadening materials.

Fractal XL front door
Behind the front plastic and aluminum door is the ventilated bay and fan intake area.  The door is lined with a very heavy dense sound deadening material to assist with the low noise design.  At the top you can see the four 5.25″ bays with pop off covers.
Bay cover
This is one of the covers removed, it is as easy as pulling that little tab on the right out and the plastic vented covers just pop out.
Fractal XL front fan door
The bottom of the bay area has a push to pop door that reveals the installed 140mm fan with filter and a space for another 140mm fan.  It is a bit hard to see from this image but there are simply two tabs you press in to pop the dual fan cage out in order to install the second fan.
Fractal XL front off
If you gently pull the entire front assembly off the case it reveals another optional filtered fan mounting area for a 120mm fan.  You can have considerable intake pressure from three fans but the actual flow rate might be slightly restricted by the front only having the side vents.
Left door
This is a shot of the inside of the left door of the case.  We wanted to show that the special vent over the GPU area is not just a metal plate but it is also treated with the heavy sound dampening.  This door alone weighs about 7lb to give you an idea of the heft of this case.
Fractal XL interior
The overall inside has a common layout with the PSU on the bottom, 5.25″ drives in the top right, HDD cage below that.  Following in the footsteps of several other companies, Fractal created three cooling zones inside the case.  The first is the PSU area, the second is the lower hard drive area, and the third is the motherboard and top HDD cage area.  One thing Fractal did with the Define XL is make sure to include tons of hard drive space in white no less.  There are 10 trays for either HDD’s or SSD’s which should be more than enough space for the largest media collections.  One thing to note is that unlike many cases today this is NOT a tool-less design for any of the additional hardware.   Given the price point we were a bit surprised by this.
HDD Tray
Moving in for a close up of one of the HDD trays shows the four rubber grommets to mount your hard drives from the bottom to minimize vibration.  We want to point out that unlike most manufacturers these trays are white painted steel, not plastic.  This makes them very strong but also contributes to the weight of the case.  Also note the center hole pattern to accommodate a SSD drive.  This means any tray can handle either a hard drive or SSD for maximum flexibility.  Also note the top HDD cage can either face left to right or be rotated to face front to back.  It can also just be removed in case you are using very long video cards providing even more options.
Fractal XL top fan
If we zoom into the top of the case for a peek at the 180mm fan you can see it is mounted on a slight angle with a unique path out of the top back of the case.  Knowing they were going for ultimate silence the rear port makes sense but not sure a large low RPM top venting fan would have created that much noise for the potential performance sacrifice.
Fractal XL interior plate
Another unique design aspect on the Fractal Define XL is this pass through plate between the PSU zone and the motherboard area.  We assume this is intended to allow you to run power cables in front of the mother board instead of behind it.  Or it could be used in case you want to turn your PSU over and have the large side mounted fan face up to help vent the motherboard zone.  In either case it is not a common option we see on cases these days.
HDD Door
Here is another interesting feature of this case, a steel door between the bottom HDD cages and the PSU.  We assume this is to give you the second and third cooling zone or you can open it to make one larger cooling zone.  We are not sure what the value is of this door but it is there.  
PSU Gasket
Keeping with the silent theme they also include this nice PSU gasket to help keep it quiet down below.  The plate the gasket is mounted on can be removed and rotated 180 degrees to allow you to face your PSU up or down as required.
Fractal XL back panel
Going around the other side you get a better view of all the square wiring grommets with pass through flaps similar to the Corsair design.  There is also a fold down door on the back of where the CPU would be mounted for easy access to the back plate for your CPU cooler.  Fractal placed several bump outs for zip ties to help with your behind the motherboard cable management.
Included parts
Included inside the Fractal Define XL is a box of goodies.  
  • Stand off mounts
  • Black screws to mount the motherboard and disk drives
  • Handful of zip ties
  • Variable fan speed control (with two fan headers) to mount in the extra vertical rear port
  • 3.5″ bay converter for one of the 5.25″ bays
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