Although some computer builders have switched to small form factor cases, the Define 7 XL is nothing to scoff about when it comes to water cooling and storage capabilities. Being a modular computer case, this allows any user to turn this case into a dedicated water cooled gaming system, or a build focused primarily on mass storage. Even out of the box, there are two included Multibrackets for water cooling pumps, and two included 3.5″/2.5″ trays dedicated to storage devices. So, if you want to start a water cooled build or a build for mass storage, the Define 7 XL gives you a solid foundation.
For a lighter build without too many components, this case will allow plenty of room for expansion in the future. If you do have a thing for LED lighting, you may want to pick up a few long LED strips. This way you can evenly light the interior of the case considering how large it is.
Although this is a great case to work with, it does have a few areas for improvement. Being able to replace the top panel is a great feature, but I would have liked to see a better way of securing it to the case. This will prevent someone from accidentally trying to lift or tilt the case from the top panel just to have it come loose while setting up their build. Removing the vertical cover from the vertical wall was tricky at first, and the two shrouds on the power supply chamber are only removable from inside the chamber.
I was somewhat confused when I looked at the rear of the case, and right above the fan is a large empty metal surface. I think it would be nice if there was a motherboard I/O cutout to mount an ITX motherboard in that section for a secondary system. Of course, there would need to be an additional bracket, but that would be pretty cool to see especially with a computer case of this size.
Overall, the Design 7 XL is a great computer case for anyone looking for a starting point to build a complete water cooled system, or a system dedicated to mass storage. With an MSRP of $209.99, this may not be the most affordable computer case. But considering the many features and the amount of modular parts Fractal Design is offering, it may be worth the investment. It also comes with a two year warranty against defects in materials and/or workmanship.
Just like Cooler Master with their MasterCase series, being able to swap out parts for new parts is a great way of keeping your build up to date. With this in mind, spending this extra premium might make sense in the long run. You may have to spend small amounts for upgrades, but that would be better than having to purchase a brand-new computer case once every couple of years.
Legit Bottom Line: Out of the box, the Define 7 XL gives you a solid foundation to start your next custom water cooling build or massive storage system.