Fractal Design Define XL Black Pearl Case Review

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Final Thoughts & Conclusions

We love seeing new companies come in an disrupt a market with fresh ideas and innovative solutions.  Fractal Design’s attempt at a large mid tower case does focus on some of this but in a quirky confusing way.  I don’t think we have reviewed a case that made us say “hmmm, that’s interesting” more times than with the Define XL. 

Fractal XL Power On
The thought put into the sound deadening design is fantastic and will force you to check the power button light to make sure it is running.  The idea of 10 HDD or SSD’s inside a silenced case made our inner media center addict jump for joy with the thought of this sitting next to our plasma streaming our entire media collection.  The removable / rotatable top HDD rack is very clever and gives you options for cable routing or long GPU’s.  Finally we liked the fit and finish of all the parts with very little plastic throughout the system.

We think Fractal made some odd choices that either provided little value or negative value.  The panel between the PSU zone and the motherboard zone is a confusing addition (but we did use it for our short PCI-E Runs).  We think they could have improved on that by simply placing a large grommet hole there.  The gap between this panel and the top of the PSU is large enough that you could flip your PSU over and it still could easily draw air.  The 180mm top mounted fan provides minimal value and could easily be blow hole mounted to give us more space and provide better thermals.  With all the insulation from sound, this case needs all the airflow it can get.  We loved the size of the PSU grommet hole but it needs to be moved further toward the front for longer PSU’s.  Another odd exclusion, this case has no hard drive activity light. The case is not tool-less in a day and age where nearly all are. Finally the door between the HDD and the PSU only seems to block air flow.

We are neutral on the overall weight of the case.  This solid build is fantastic and does what it says it will do, keep the rig silent.  We broke 50 lb fully built so do not expect to be taking this to any LAN parties anytime soon.  If you do, make sure you rent a dolly.  At the time this article was published the Fractal Design Define XL with front USB 3.0 ports runs $149.99 plus shipping in Black Pearl and $139.99 plus shipping in Titanium Grey at Newegg. 

After you figure in the $19.99 shipping fee you are looking at $169.98 Shipped and that is on the pricey side. We would expect a little more intuitive case design for the price.

Legit Bottom Line: If you want a silent case above all else then the Fractal Design Define XL hits the mark.  But if you prefer maximum versatility we would pass on this one for now and wait for version 2.0.

Define XL Colors

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