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Fractal Design Define 7 Compact

Darksaber

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The Fractal Design Define 7 Compact takes all the great things about the Define 7 and aims to shrink it down to align more with what a user would expect from a classic mid-tower enclosure in terms of size. By doing so the Define 7 Compact enters the mass-market segment, which is further underlined by its interesting price point.

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I like it but would have preferred it to be more compact along meshify c dimension which in my opinion is best compact case ever.
 
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Thank you for this review!

So it's like a Define C2, but with a bit less sound dampening and a bit more airflow. I wouldn't "upgrade" to this from my Define C though. I don't know if I ever would replace it. :D
Also, it would've been nice if you showed us the inside of the front piece. Can you please? :)
 
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Top mounted ports are a negative for me, also manufacturers perforating the entire rear of the case and no filters there.
If it's not used for airflow through a fan, seal it off!
 
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Waaay too expensive. The closest competition is the Pure Base 500, which has no front USB-C but includes 4 SSD trays... and is $25 cheaper. That's a lot of money at this price point.

If this chassis included vertical PCI slots and a couple of extra SSD mounts, then $100 becomes a lot more palatable. But as it stands, all that's needed is for be quiet! to refresh the Pure Base 500 with USB-C for $10 more, and all of a sudden Fractal's offering is DOA.

Sorry Fractal, you aren't Apple, you're just another chassis manufacturer in an every-growing market of them, and the features that used to be exclusive to your boxes are now available from almost anyone. You don't get to charge those high prices anymore, because there's nothing to justify them. I've said this before: Lian-Li made the same mistake, and it didn't work out particularly well for them.
 
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Is it just be or they're rolling down-hill with these "new" releases?

I had a Define C, Mini and already own 2 Meshify cases which are better for most use cases and costed less.

In some ways I thought Meshify was a step back because the removable front had also affixed the front I/O to it. It was so much easier to clean the front filters and fans without having to awkwardly move around the front while it was still tied to the case by the cables. Also, the sound dampening was removed, I'm guessing it made more sense because you were able to fully close the TG panel. On Meshify there is a clear gap that will leak noise.

No clue how they couldn't figure out how to keep some of the quality of life things.
 
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It's nice to see that Fractal brings similar features to a smaller family member as well.
Personally I would probably use the 7 or 7 XL in my future builds, but options are always great.

Waaay too expensive. The closest competition is the Pure Base 500, which has no front USB-C but includes 4 SSD trays... and is $25 cheaper. That's a lot of money at this price point.
Well, that's what you get when comparing a "value" case to a premium case. If that matters to you, then go for the cheaper one.

I only look at the price if it's very significant. $25 or even $50 is not much for a whole build, if I like the case better. I generally just look at features and quality first, so sometimes I build in a $60 case, sometimes I build in a $150 case.

If they were to cut costs somewhere, it should be to make some of the parts optional, not cut in quality. Like that extra top panel and the included fans. One of the problem with premium cases is that you pay for half-decent fans that will be thrown out anyway.
 
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Do any modern cases offer 5.25 bays anymore? I know tempered glass is hard to shape (and expensive for the manufacturer) outside simple rectangles and squares, but many cases like this one don't even use tempered glass up front, so there is no excuse.


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Do any modern cases offer 5.25 bays anymore? I know tempered glass is hard to shape (and expensive for the manufacturer) outside simple rectangles and squares, but many cases like this one don't even use tempered glass up front, so there is no excuse.
Yes, Define 7 has one, Define 7 XL has two.
 
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It's nice to see that Fractal brings similar features to a smaller family member as well.
Personally I would probably use the 7 or 7 XL in my future builds, but options are always great.


Well, that's what you get when comparing a "value" case to a premium case. If that matters to you, then go for the cheaper one.

I only look at the price if it's very significant. $25 or even $50 is not much for a whole build, if I like the case better. I generally just look at features and quality first, so sometimes I build in a $60 case, sometimes I build in a $150 case.

If they were to cut costs somewhere, it should be to make some of the parts optional, not cut in quality. Like that extra top panel and the included fans. One of the problem with premium cases is that you pay for half-decent fans that will be thrown out anyway.

I agree, there is more than spec sheets alone in my consideration of value. For instance, I would pay $25 over the Be Quite! on aesthetics alone, as I have no need for more 2.5 SSD's. I to wish they would offer fanless versions of cases as you said.

Do any modern cases offer 5.25 bays anymore?

in my opinion the complete eradication of 5.25 bays can not come soon enough. I have a cheap external usb drive that I take out of my desk drawer every 3rd blue moon when I actually need to install something from a disc. Even then, if an optical drive is a must I have seen much better solutions using the slim style laptop drives that can be mounted inconspicuously and take up very little room, opposed to bulky full sized drives.
 
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I agree, there is more than spec sheets alone in my consideration of value. For instance, I would pay $25 over the Be Quite! on aesthetics alone, as I have no need for more 2.5 SSD's. I to wish they would offer fanless versions of cases as you said.



in my opinion the complete eradication of 5.25 bays can not come soon enough. I have a cheap external usb drive that I take out of my desk drawer every 3rd blue moon when I actually need to install something from a disc. Even then, if an optical drive is a must I have seen much better solutions using the slim style laptop drives that can be mounted inconspicuously and take up very little room, opposed to bulky full sized drives.

I'm on my third USB drive since August 2018. No such thing as quality USB optical drive. Constant power issues, burn quality is beyond bad, pretty much one chipset in all of these. Think of a cheapest off-brand 5.25 drive of the 2000s with a Mediatek chipset running things, only worse. Good-ish if all you want to do is read a random game disc few times a year for a quick install.

That said, I think we have different backgrounds and use cases. While I do have a fully modern "gamer-cool" case for my main OC-and-play-with machine which is where the USB optical drive resides (case is the Anidees AI Cube, tempered glass all around, RGB everywhere!, all it needs is some Fortnite stickers to make it best case of 2018 voted by 14-year-olds), I also have 8 other retro machines and a collection of 200+ boxed/jeweled PC games. (Typing this off a machine running Athlon XP 3200 and GeForce 3 Ti 500 :D) So I'm constantly going to and fro, CDs in hand.

Would be nice to move my modern gaming and OC PC from this tempered glass RGB monstrosity to something little more usable. So far only options are eBay cases like original Cosmos 1000 or similar, OR new Rosewill cases that look like they have QC of a North Korean ICBM.

Also, love the fact that all the cases with tempered glass up front, like my cube with four 120mm fans up front + glass, have tiny slits for intakes, that cause the fans grab air from inside instead and recycle it. We have reached peak flashy yet useless. :D At least the cases of yesteryear balanced airflow with flashy non-sense (Thermaltake was king and still is of bizzare looking cases that somehow had decent to okayish airflow.)

That said, this case in the review price aside, looks decent for a modern mid range build. If I was building my first PC ever, def would give a shot.

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.
 
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in my opinion the complete eradication of 5.25 bays can not come soon enough. I have a cheap external usb drive that I take out of my desk drawer every 3rd blue moon when I actually need to install something from a disc. Even then, if an optical drive is a must I have seen much better solutions using the slim style laptop drives that can be mounted inconspicuously and take up very little room, opposed to bulky full sized drives.
This is why having options is important, different people have different needs. And I commend Fractal for still offering some good cases with 5.25" bays.
I'm not saying every case needs to have 5.25" bays, but I think workstation oriented ones should. My future builds will continue to have optical drives, not for gaming, but for audio work. External drives are really not an option. Then there are some who install hot swap bays in the 5.25" bays.
 
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I'm on my third USB drive since August 2018. No such thing as quality USB optical drive. Constant power issues, burn quality is beyond bad, pretty much one chipset in all of these. Think of a cheapest off-brand 5.25 drive of the 2000s with a Mediatek chipset running things, only worse. Good-ish if all you want to do is read a random game disc few times a year for a quick install.

That said, I think we have different backgrounds and use cases. While I do have a fully modern "gamer-cool" case for my main OC-and-play-with machine which is where the USB optical drive resides (case is the Anidees AI Cube, tempered glass all around, RGB everywhere!, all it needs is some Fortnite stickers to make it best case of 2018 voted by 14-year-olds), I also have 8 other retro machines and a collection of 200+ boxed/jeweled PC games. (Typing this off a machine running Athlon XP 3200 and GeForce 3 Ti 500 :D) So I'm constantly going to and fro, CDs in hand.

Would be nice to move my modern gaming and OC PC from this tempered glass RGB monstrosity to something little more usable. So far only options are eBay cases like original Cosmos 1000 or similar, OR new Rosewill cases that look like they have QC of a North Korean ICBM.

Also, love the fact that all the cases with tempered glass up front, like my cube with four 120mm fans up front + glass, have tiny slits for intakes, that cause the fans grab air from inside instead and recycle it. We have reached peak flashy yet useless. :D At least the cases of yesteryear balanced airflow with flashy non-sense (Thermaltake was king and still is of bizzare looking cases that somehow had decent to okayish airflow.)

That said, this case in the review price aside, looks decent for a modern mid range build. If I was building my first PC ever, def would give a shot.

Sorry I meant no offense directed towards you, I have been waging war against 5.25 bays for a long time lol. For sure, use cases are to be considered. I was just stating it "in my opinion" per my use case. My preference is as minimalist and compact of a form factor as possible for the given motherboard size, and the 5.25 bays just add so much extra volume and case depth.

I surprisingly still have my original Toshiba usb drive from back when USB DVD externals first came out. (and I'm sure I have just jinxed myself).
 
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If this chassis included vertical PCI slots and a couple of extra SSD mounts, then $100 becomes a lot more palatable. But as it stands, all that's needed is for be quiet! to refresh the Pure Base 500 with USB-C for $10 more, and all of a sudden Fractal's offering is DOA.
Kinda hard to compare this case to one that doesn't exist no? They already released the Pure Base 500DX for $99, which has USB-C, but it's not in addition to the two front USB ports, it replaces one of them. You want more SSD mounts, I want more front USB ports, and it's pretty great that we both have options available at the same price-point.
 
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The fact that this 100% standard ATX tower is called "compact" says a lot about the woeful state of the ATX case market right now.

More cases need to be this size - it's ideal for a 280mm radiator and full ATX board, which covers or exceeds the requirements of 99.9% of the population.

When people buy an "ATX" case that can fit oversized boards, over-height, over-long graphics cards, push-pull radiators in the front+top+back, and include extra width just to shove a GPU in the utterly ridiculous 'vertical showboat' position with its fans rammed against the glass....

:banghead:

The top filter and radiator mounts in this are utterly stupid though - I'll assume that it was cheaper to leave them in than remove them, because the same tooling would be used for a variant that has a vented top panel.
 
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How sturdy is the closing mechanism on the side panels especial the solid side ?
 
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all they had to do is update meshify c with usb type- c port and sort out the front IO ports and voila you have a winner once again!
 
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Corsair have a couple.

Was looking at Corsair 780T, which seems like Corsair's take on Cosmos. Seems discontinued and few places that have it are selling used/refurb/abused models at inflated prices.

It's not just optical drives, I have fan controllers, temp readouts, tape drives, internal USB floppy emulators. I have a bin of new AND old 5.25 peripherals. Tis the new age, Windows comes with Minecraft preinstalled and all that. :rolleyes:

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How sturdy is the closing mechanism on the side panels especial the solid side ?

If it's anything like the Fractal 7 (which I have, and locking mech looks identical), then you place the bottom of the side panel in the bottom guiding rail, then you simply push the top of the side into place. There is a solid click when it clips.

However, if you are moving the case around (from say under a desk to put on a desk) it is extremely easy to accidentally grab one sides release mech, and the side unclips. If your in an awkward hold, this could result in the side just falling off and onto your foot etc.

Anyway, in the Fractal 7, there is 2 little screws you can use, to hold the side panels in place when moving, or to hold the sides in place permanently. They screw in near the top, and either side of the front.

Check the Fractal 7 Compacts manual. It will tell you if it's the same deal.
 
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  • No HDD activity LED
Thank you for pointing this out. I know it's a small thing, but I'm genuinely irked when case manufacturers cheap out by not providing an HDD activity light or reset button. Both of which are really useful when (not if) troubleshooting.
 
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Pretty nice case for the $100 range.

It did kind of blow my mind when I saw optical bays were almost not a thing any more. Instead of going to little USB drive route I got a big 5.25" external USB3 adaptor and shoved a Plextor DVDRW in it. No optical issues now!
 
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To be honest, more cases needs to be NOT an ATX, but micro ATX or even mini ATX. People don't use SLI anymore, people don't use PCI slots anymore, as sound cards migrated outside the case, there are inbuilt WIFI cards or on USB. There's absolutely no need for ATX form factor in 2020.
 
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To be honest, more cases needs to be NOT an ATX, but micro ATX or even mini ATX. People don't use SLI anymore, people don't use PCI slots anymore, as sound cards migrated outside the case, there are inbuilt WIFI cards or on USB. There's absolutely no need for ATX form factor in 2020.
I don't even have a problem with standard compact ATX cases either, since m.2 slots take up real-estate on the board that used to require drive bays - it's just that so many "ATX" cases utterly dwarf an ATX board. with room for an SSI-EEB EATX board, 10+ legacy mechanical drives, 8x add-in cards and 4+ push-pull radiators.

micro-ATX is the best form factor IMO, since your typical 2-slot GPU needs a third slot to breathe, and you might as well have one other slot just to give you options and provide more real-estate on the board for increasingly-popular M.2

I also have 8 other retro machines and a collection of 200+ boxed/jeweled PC games. (Typing this off a machine running Athlon XP 3200 and GeForce 3 Ti 500 :D) So I'm constantly going to and fro, CDs in hand.
I would be tempted to rip all of your CDs and DVDs to ISO. Optical media doesn't last forever and it's abundantly clear that quality consumer optical drives are already extinct. When the last optical bay in my household died about 3-4 years ago, I took a good look at my CD and DVD collection and threw out about 90% of it because I could easily source the contents online. What I kept was basically useless for anything except the nostalgia of having an original printed disc with cover art. Even if I wasn't entitled to a legal digital version of it, I'd just pirate it if so inclined. Whilst not technically legal, we're talking about a decade(s)-old product that I bought back then as a 'perpetual full license' with the physical media and CD-key to prove it.
 
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