The new Define series lost an R in its naming, but it got a number promotion, it’s now 7. Define 7. So, what’s new?
It’s instantly recognizable as one of Fractal’s models, it has that clean-cut look which a lot of people like, with a big tempered glass side panel almost completely covering the left side of the chassis. The build quality is top-notch wherever you go, I really couldn’t find anything in that regard to complain about.
But, before I go into details, let me first show you the time-lapse of putting my build it in.
Fractal Define 7 – a familiar face
Of course, the clean front panel completely dominates the chassis looks, we have this brushed aluminum door, with a deeply cut LED indicator light on the top edge of it. There’s also a hint of Fractal’s new generation logo in the bottom left corner. The doors are somewhat weekly held closed by magnets and swings open easily to a 90° angle carried by two hinges. If you want you can reposition the door so it opens from the right by switching places of the hinges. On the top you can see a spot for a 5,25” drive, with its own compartment and dust filter, while below it we have a big dust filter for the front fans which doesn’t pop out easily, you need to introduce some force, so be careful when doing that.
The side ventilation holes of the front panel seem to be big enough, similar to the Vector RS model, they are really wide and have a decent gap between them, this could provide enough airflow, but I’ll check that out a little bit later on. What I like the most about this front panel is that you don’t have to open the door or pull it off in order to clean the big bottom dust filter, you can just take it out without any obstacles. Down there you will also find big plastic feet with rubber padding on them.
I have the light tempered glass version of it, it’s called the Define 7 TG light chassis and it’s is almost completely clear, with just a slight hint of dark, but all in all, you can see through it without a problem, so all of your out there who plan to do a build in it without RGB components, you’ll be able to showcase your hardware without an issue.
Pulling the glass panel off is really easy, It only takes a second, you have this tab that slides and releases the lock, just be careful when doing it for the first, if you pull it too hard it may fall off from the bottom hinge. If you do it slowly, the top completely releases while the bottom edge of it leans into these cutouts. The same goes for the right-side panel, which is even more convenient since you don’t have to be so careful with it. The bottom line, pulling the panels off is a very seamless experience, no screws no tools, probably one of the best systems that I’ve ever seen so far.
Since we’re talking about pulling stuff off, the top panel just pops right off, it’s out of there in a matter of moments, nothing is holding it down, not I/O, not cables, it’s completely free of anything, and the same goes for the front panel. Speaking of I/O’s, we have a serious lineup here, where besides your power on and reset switch, you’ll get separate audio in and audio out jacks, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port and four USB Type-A ports, two of them 2.0 and two of them 3.0 ports.
Panel swapping behemot
Back to the top panel, the reason why it’s easily removable in the first place is that you have an option to go for a different mesh panel, plus a dust filter, that comes with the chassis bundle, for builds where you want to put a radiator or fans on the top. Since I’ve already tried that with Vector RS, which is practically the same when it comes to airflow and cooling potential, for this time I’ve decided to go full turtle mode so I can see what can I get out of it acoustics and temperature-wise. More so since this is a silent oriented chassis, it has a lot of dampening material all around its panels, and I myself am a noise freak, so I was really interested in checking if this is one of the best ways of keeping the noise down as much as possible.
Of course, if it suits your needs, don’t hesitate to use the mesh top cover, you’ll probably get better temperature results with some higher noise floor as a compromise in that regard. I would really like that Fractal maybe offers this as on option when buying the chassis if you won’t go for a full panel or mesh panel, just as you can choose tinted or less tinted glass panel, while it would also bring the cost of the end product for the user itself.
Speaking of the temperatures, we have a total of three 140 mm Dynamic X2 GP-14 fans pre-installed, they are really quiet and move a lot of air, so they bring best from both worlds. Temperatures were pretty standard compared to what I’ve seen in other chassis with a similar configuration, the Ryzen 7 3700X CPU was roaming just a bit above 80°C with Noctua’s NH-D15 Chromax on it, while the Sapphire RX 5600 XT Pulse graphics cards hold its temperature steadily at 75°C, which is again pretty standard and almost comparable to my open testbed review of it, more so since it was a pretty hot day when I did chassis temperature testing. As for the noise that they make and what was Fractal Define 7 capable of suppressing, Here’s a couple of short sound clips of that, while also showing the sound meter for measurement comparison.
The inside of the Define 7 is basically the same as with the Vector RS model which I’ve recently reviewed, feel free to check it out in the right top corner of this video. It’s very roomy, building in it was a breeze, we have two main compartments, the left side with the motherboard tray, and the right side with the drive tray rail, which was in this case flush with the motherboard tray. You can pull this panel to front and make a separate drive cage out of it or you can leave like it was in my case and cover the bottom part with these two-piece plastic cover for the power supply shroud, which the Vector RS actually doesn’t have, so Define 7 looks a bit more completed with them.
You can, for example, choose to remove the smaller front plastic part in case you want to have a radiator in the front, or the bigger second one if you need even more room for a push-pull. The power supply shroud is completely the same, we have these small cutouts on its top, for better airflow of the inner portion of its compartment, while it stretches completely from the back to the front.
Behind it, we have a drive cage with a spot for two 3,5” or 2,5” drives, which uses those same drive trays that can be used in case you want to use that drive rail option which I mentioned earlier. In that case, you can easily pull this cage out from the power supply shroud area, there are four screws on the bottom, while you also have an option to slide it back and forward against the rails if you want to still keep it but make some room for the radiator on the front. You can, of course, use those two trays for the drive rail, although you’ll probably need to buy some more if you plan to put a lot of drives. The power supply has it’s on installation bracket and a spot with rubber padding, as well as enough room for tucking in the cables.
Eating up the hardware
Back to the inside, obviously there’s more than enough room for anything that comes in mind build wise, a lot of pass-through cutouts and rubber grommets, expect again one missing in the left bottom corner. I also wish they made one cutout in the middle of the shroud for the power supply cables coming to the graphics card because for example I had a bit of an awkward and ugly situation when I’ve was doing a two RX 5700 XT Crossfire multiGPU setup testing, feel free to check that video out, I’ll put a link to in the right top corner, I barely could make the cable run look somewhat decent as they were coming from the side, I just couldn’t run the cable through the bottom cutout against the edge of the mortarboard tray, as it would interfere with the second GPU. Other than that you can put up to 467 mm long GPUs with fans installed on the front, or 315 mm one with that drive rail pushed forward.
Since I had a pretty tall RAM kit, I had to bump up the first fans way above its normal alignment, but despite that the cooler still managed to fit as Fractal Design Define 7 can take up to 185 mm tall CPU towers. For radiators, you can put up to 360 mm one on the front, and 420 mm on the top and 280 on the bottom, so plenty of room to do a more beefed up water-cooling setup and to put and showcase your pump and reservoir.
I’ve also recently checked out their new Celsius+ all-in-one water-coolers, I’ll put a link in the right top corner of this video, I’ve actually done a direct comparison between two different sizes of the same model, 240 and 360 mm, so It’s a pretty interesting watch for that matter too.
Moving to the other side of the motherboard tray, here we have a completely different situation compared to its brother. They did an outstanding job of making sure that you have as few problems as possible when dealing with cable management. It was all really easy to do, especially since I did this build with using their new fully modular ION+ 760W 80Plus Platinum power supply, so I did have any excess cables, to begin with, plus this model support 0 RPM fan mode when the system is not under load, so there won’t be that much dust build-up. The biggest addition is this bottom plastic panel that completely covers the whole bottom power supply area, so you don’t have to look at the cable mass that’s usually sitting down there. Nothing to see here, move along.
Other than that they also used these sorts of like rails and cable holders which guide them and onto which they put Velcro straps. We have few of Velocr straps on the right side, and a couple of hook points for the zip-ties. There’s more than enough space between the back of the motherboard tray and the right-side panel, especially around the drive area, where you can vertical fit a 3,5” drive onto this multi-bracket plate. You also have an option to put two 2,5” drives on the right side of the motherhood, onto these trays, just below the cooler cutout.
Who is Define 7 for?
There are few other options around the chassis which can be used for additional drive installation with the multi-bracket, for example, you can hang drive upside down from the top, you can also put few along the top side of the power supply, so all in all very versatile model when it comes to that. You can also use that multibracket for your pump and reservoir installation onto that plastic cover of the power supply shroud. On top of all of that, we also have this very nicely tucked away fan hub, with three 4-pin PWM and six 3-pin fan headers. It can be powered using the SATA power cable or the PWM cable that hooks up directly.
I actually have an interesting story about that. Since the preinstalled fans have a 3-pin connection, I’ve connected them to the 3-pin fan headers on the hub. At first, I thought I’ll be able to control it over the motherboard, but then I noticed I couldn’t reed theirRPM speed. Then I transferred them over to the 4-pin PWM headers and I was able to see the speed, but I wasn’t able to control their speed at all, it was constantly running at full speed. It turns out that the SATA power connection overrides the DC control over the hub cable, so I ended plugging out the SATA power cable and only leaving the PWM header connected to the motherboard and doing that I got the full control. Not a big deal, but maybe it helps some of you out there.
And that was basically the only complaint I had with it, but I assume they had their technical reasoning with it, while for everything else, it’s really hard to say anything bad about it. The only question that begs itself is doing this chassis goes along with what are you planning to put in it, especially having the price tag in mind. Do you really intend to use it to its fullest potential, or at least the majority of it? If you can’t do it, it’s hard not to look at other offers, even among their own, because the chassis market is really big now and the prices are really competitive. On the other hand, I can understand why would someone go for it just based on its looks, practicality, and build quality, even if they don’t use the rest of the features that it offers.
That’s it for this time from me, I hope this Fractal Define 7 review suited what you were looking for, if you have any question feel free to hit me in the comments section of my YouTube video listed above, you can contact me via my social media channels!