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My new review platform

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Category: PC Modding
Forum Name: Project Build&Share
Forum Description: Show your projects here!
Printed Date: 08 Dec 2022 at 5:04pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.04 -

Topic: My new review platform
Posted By: Xaltar
Subject: My new review platform
Date Posted: 11 Nov 2016 at 1:36am
As some of you may know I write reviews on various ASRock motherboards here from time to time. One of the problems I have been having is, well, space. With the amount of time I spend swapping out motherboards from my test setup I really needed a case with a bit more room inside that would really showcase the products I review. No one likes working in a cramped space all the time, especially when you do so on a regular basis.

Enter the Fractal Design Define S Clap

Sadly I don't have all the boxes that my hardware came in anymore but I did still have these.

System Specifications: 

CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K
Motherboard: ASRock Z170 Pro4s
GPU: Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming 2gb
RAM: 8gb (2x4) Corsair Vengeance DDR4 2800
SSD: Pny Optima 256gb
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 1tb
PSU: OCZ Fatal1ty Champion Series 1000w
Case: Fractal Design Define S

Bare in mind the motherboard in this system is changed fairly often but this is my test bench as it stands now.

On to the case:

The case it self is pleasantly understated, the only more striking aesthetic is the windowed side panel which was protected on both sides by cellophane, which means my window arrived in pristine condition. I have read more than a few reviews on this case and the window is one of it's letdowns. It is exceedingly easy to scratch so if you plan to build in one of these, handle with extreme care.

This is the main selling point of this case in my opinion, look at all that space. Not a single ugly (unnecessary) drive cage in sight. Lovely large grommets to keep your cables neat and tidy and accommodation for 140mm fans in every slot. 3 spots on the front, 3 on top, 1 on the back and 1 in the floor of the case though the last is blocked by my large PSU.

The dust filter on this case is a thing of beauty, semi hinged on one side with powerful magnets on the other to hold it in place meaning no rattle or gaps, just what I like to see. There is a second dust filter covering the bottom 2 intakes for the PSU and 140mm fan (should you use a fan there). Some have complained that the bottom dust filter pulls out from the back but that is of no concern to me as I have access to both the back and front of my system the way I have it oriented on my desk.

Another great feature is the sound dampened rear side panel, the panels are interchangeable too which is neat if you want to show off your cable management and drives for some reason. The material used is not too thick which is great if you are trying to tuck away a lot of cables, it also adds a lot of stability to the panel.

The sheer amount of space in this case becomes even more evident once you get all your kit installed. I have never built a system more quickly and easily than this one. The attention to detail, convenient placement of grommeted holes and uncluttered layout was a dream to work with. 

I don't know many people who don't hate cable management, especially when dealing with individually sleeved power supply leads. Don't get me wrong, I love them, they look fantastic and add a bit more durability to the cables but man are they annoying to try and tuck away. As you can see here though, the Define S makes the process almost completely painless with fantastic Velcro tie downs and numerous mounting locations to move them to. Because my PSU cables are so bulky and awkward to deal with I chose to move the tie downs from their default location to the one next to the recessed hard disk mounting area. There is a lot more room in there and my side panel goes on without touching the cables. I could probably have done a better job back here but this is more than good enough for my needs.

The end result is clean (unlike my desk Embarrassed) tidy and very stylish in my opinion.

This has got to be the most fun and painless build I have ever done. I have dealt with all the headaches builders face over the years and this case is the first one I have used that completely sidesteps almost all those issues.

Things left to do:

1. I have another Fractal 140mm fan ordered to put in the front bringing the total to 3 140mm intakes and 1 outlet. There are plenty of vents to allow the extra air to escape.
2. Get some temp readings to compare to my old Deepcool Tesseract case.
3. Update this post with said temps Tongue

Special thanks:

ASRock as always and Wardog for all his help with this project. Many thanks and crazy feels HugBeer

More to follow.......


Posted By: wardog
Date Posted: 11 Nov 2016 at 2:11am
" rel="nofollow - Looks awesome Xaltar. Much much better case to display your hard work here.

My build into the Define S case here went as smoothly and painlessly as yours has.

Were you missing a motherboard mounting screw? Parsec and myself too have built many systems using Fractal Design cases. It's a standing joke between us that every one has been missing one, ONE, mounting screw. Someone needs to let Fractal know AT motherboards are a thing of the past, and to get with it!

I'm glad you like the case.

Posted By: wardog
Date Posted: 11 Nov 2016 at 2:14am
Now you need a reason to remove those slick blanking panels from the top of your case LOL

Posted By: Xaltar
Date Posted: 11 Nov 2016 at 2:19am
Nope, no missing screws in this situation but, if I were using a standard sized ATX motherboard there would indeed have been 1 missing LOL

The Z170 Pro4s only uses 2 rows of mounting holes vs 3 on full sized ATX boards. There was a locator standoff included in the case (actually screwed into it) which could have been the thinking behind the missing standoff and screw. I removed it and replaced it with a regular standoff. 

I have got to say, the thumb tightener for the standoffs included with this case is fantastic. It has earned itself a spot in my toolkit.

I really couldn't think of a better case for my needs. I am not into all the excessive "bling" in my systems, some subtle lighting sure but the flashing, pulsing, color changing thing isn't for me. If I ever use RGB it will be set to the color scheme of my build and left at a constant low setting in that color. 


Posted By: parsec
Date Posted: 11 Nov 2016 at 10:50am
I have two Define S cases, my Define R5 is a limitation by comparison.

If you're not water cooling, which you aren't like I am, no need to remove all of the top covers IMO.

Airflow in the case is from front to back. I have all the PCI slot covers removed to allow air to escape out the back. Only one rear 140mm exhaust fan, or another 140mm exhaust fan at the top rear, or an open vent, is plenty to allow air to exit the case. It also maintains positive pressure in the case. Three 140mm fans in the front, filter removed (too restrictive), and I can feel the breeze three feet away behind the PC.

IMO, the Fractal fans are one notch above worthless. Incredibly quiet, because they move so little air, even at full speed. When I tested one with my 12V power supply, the air flow was pathetic. Put them behind the dust filter, might as well not even connect them to power. Removing them is done while preparing the case.

I mentioned the locator standoff to wardog, which he must of just tossed out as some weird thing. It does explain the "missing" mobo screw.

No need to explain not needing you PC as an Xmas tree. But wait until the next wave of ASRock boards is released, it will be LEDs everywhere, as they must offer it to match the other manufactures, and please the children. Plus they need night lights with their PC in their bedroom.

-------------" rel="nofollow">

Posted By: Xaltar
Date Posted: 11 Nov 2016 at 1:15pm
Yeah, that tends to be the trade off when it comes to quiet fans. I have reviewed a lot of fans in the past and the only ones (that I tested) that were quiet and had decent (ish) airflow are Noctua's silent range. 

I will have 3 140mm fans on the front when my order comes in, while the airflow is hardly ideal it should be ample with 3 of them running at their full 1000rpm. They are very quiet and I do like that. Add to that that there is absolutely nothing impeding airflow in the define S and it should do the job well enough. I would go with Noctua fans but I just can't stand the brown color and my local stores only stock the brown.   


Posted By: wardog
Date Posted: 13 Nov 2016 at 12:37pm
Originally posted by wardog wardog wrote:

Now you need a reason to remove those slick blanking panels from the top of your case LOL

TaDa! Clap Thumbs Up

Posted By: Xaltar
Date Posted: 15 Nov 2016 at 9:54pm
Update coming soon Thumbs Up


Posted By: Xaltar
Date Posted: 16 Nov 2016 at 10:40pm
Well it looks like Santa must have been having a bender with the Toothfairy and Easter Bunny because Christmas came early for me Cool

I couldn't let all the water cooling potential of the Define S go to waste now could I?


Posted By: wardog
Date Posted: 17 Nov 2016 at 2:22am
" rel="nofollow -
Originally posted by Xaltar Xaltar wrote:

I couldn't let all the water cooling potential of the Define S go to waste now could I?

Let the fun begin anew!

Posted By: Xaltar
Date Posted: 17 Nov 2016 at 3:50pm
A thing of beauty Heart

And the before shot

Aside from the awesome new Corsair H105 AIO I have also added a Thermaltake Riing 140mm fan, my local store didn't have any Arctic 140s in stock and I like the more subtle not over bright ring LED effect that matches the logo on my GTX 960 G1 Gaming. I may not like the Christmas tree flashing LED effects but a subtle glow always makes me smile Tongue

As you can see there was plenty of tubing to reach the front of the case, even if I were to have the radiator mounted against the case then fans onto the radiator. I chose this configuration because it will allow me to add a pair of 120mm fans at a later date without having to dismantle everything Smile

I have done a few stress tests at the same OC I was using on the Arctic Freezer 12 (modded aesthetically). I am running my i5 6600k @ 4.4ghz with a 1.3v vcore. Both configs were tested with an ambient temp of 24c and as you can see from the pics the only change is the H105, the new 140mm fan was used for both the air and water cooling tests.

Arctic Freezer 12:

Idle: 32c
Prime Load: 75c
Gaming Load: 44c

Corsair H105:

Idle: 16c
Prime Load: 51c
Gaming load: 28c

As you can see, the gaming load on the H105 is lower than the idle load on the Arctic Freezer 12 Shocked The other temps are so far below the air cooler I think they speak for themselves. Now to overclock some more and see how far I get. I topped out at 4.6ghz using my Thermaltake Frio OCK @ 1.35v and couldn't run prime without a thermal event (100c). Lets see what I can get out of the H105 Cool


Posted By: Xaltar
Date Posted: 17 Nov 2016 at 10:44pm
Oh well, no go on the overclocking. I still couldn't get the system stable at 4.6ghz no matter how much voltage I threw at it. On the up side temps remained sub 60c even at 1.42v. I was able to post at 5ghz but could not boot into the OS. On air I could not post at 5.0ghz with this CPU.

I am back to my 4.4ghz daily use OC after 7 hours of trying every combination of settings under the sun, I guess either my budget Z170 Pro4s or my CPU just are not up to the task Cry

None the less, 4.5ghz stable is still not a bad result I just would have liked to see more under water. It looks like I will have to wait for another board/CPU combo to try for the elusive 5ghz OC that both my previous systems denied me Ouch


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