PC Components

Fractal Design Define 7 Compact: In the shadow of its big brother?

After the launch of the Define 7, the successor of the successful Define R6, there is now an update for the almost 4 year old Define C. With a larger range of functions, Fractal Design also offers a simpler naming convention with the Define 7 Compact. But is the new case a recommendation, or should the choice rather fall on the big brother? All this and more is to be clarified in our detailed test of the Define 7 Compact with tempered glass.

Technical details

The Fractal Design Define 7 Compact* is available since June 6, 2020. The Fractal Define 7 Compact is only available in black, but in three different side panels: Metal, glass and tempered glass.

Universal mount for 3.5″/2.5″ drives 4 maximum, 2 included in delivery
Mount for 2.5″ drives 4 maximum, 2 included in delivery
Expansion slots 7
Mainboard compatibility ATX, mATX, ITX
Power supply unit form factor ATX
Front connections 1 x USB-C 3.1 Gen 2, 2 x USB-A 3.0, 2 x USB-A 2.0 Audio I/O
Fan positions 7 x 120 mm or 4 x 140 mm and 2 x 120 mm
Fan front 3 x 120 mm or 2 x 140 mm,
(1 x 140 mm included)
Fan top side 2 x 120 / 140 mm
Fan rear 1 x 120 mm
(1 x 120 mm included)
Fan bottom 1 x 120 mm
Dust filter fan for bottom + PSU, fan in front, lid
Radiator front up to 280 mm or 360 mm
Radiator top side up to 240 mm
Radiator rear 120 mm
Radiator bottom 120 mm
Max. length PSU 165 mm (when HDD cage installed), 200 mm (without HDD cage)
Max. length GPU 360 mm, 341 mm with front fan
Max. Height CPU cooler 169 mm
Room for cable management Yes (17-28 mm rear)
Side part left Steel (optionally with glass and tempered glass)
Side part right steel
Dimensions housing (LxWxH) 427 x 210 x 474 mm
Weight net 9.2 kg
Price € 141.44 *

Packaging and scope of delivery

The Define 7 Compact TG arrives very well packed in Styrofoam. The front and the glass pane is additionally protected with a foil.

Already in the packaging you will find the accessories next to the case. Included are the following parts:

    • Miscellaneous screws for hardware and mountings
    • Multiple cable ties
    • Additional top panel in cooling design

The accessories are extensive and attractively packaged. Further accessories, such as additional HDD holders, are available in stores.

Outside impression

The housing consists almost entirely of steel. Gaps, defects in materials or sharp edges are not detectable with our housing. The workmanship is excellent even at first glance.

Unlike its big brother, the Define 7 Compact has no front door. Nevertheless, the front can be removed after it has been manually unscrewed from the inside. There is insulation in the front and there are filters at the side of the openings.

Under the front, the dust filter can be pulled forward and easily removed. This should protect the entire underside from dust. The complete housing stands on rubberized feet.

Since the right side is quite unspectacular except for the insulation, we come directly to the front connections: Beside the typical on/off and reset switches, the front panel has two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. Moreover, there are two 3.5 mm jack connections. Finally, the USB type C connector should be mentioned. Interestingly, the Compact differs slightly from its big brother in the arrangement of the connectors: It has the reset button directly to the left of the type C connector.

Let’s stay close to the front panel and take a closer look at the top cover. This can be removed without tools and also has insulation inside. Underneath it there is an easy to remove dust filter.

If you now want to attach additional fans or even a radiator up to 280 mm long, you can use the open top panel included in the scope of delivery. This is also made of steel and can be attached directly to the housing.

Finally a look at the back side of the Define 7 Compact. As with its big brother, the side parts are not fixed with screws as usual, but can be pushed away to the left or right via a small plastic lip. However, a vertical mounting option for PCIe expansions is not included in the Compact. In the lower area the power supply unit can be screwed on outside the case by means of an adapter and then pushed in.

Overall, the case already leaves a fantastic impression on the outside. Every part seems to be well thought out. Optically, the case looks deliberately simple and high-quality. The quality of the material and workmanship doesn’t show any weaknesses. In opposition to the Define 7, the compact does without the front door and the vertical PCIe slots.

Internal impression

The interior of the Define 7 Compact looks tidy and orderly at first glance. This is partly due to the separation of the space for the mainboard and the power supply unit. If necessary, a 360 mm radiator could be mounted in the front and 240 mm radiator on the top. There are many different rubberized options for cable routing. If many HDDs are to be installed, the Define 7 should be chosen rather: here the case could be extended up to 14 universal brackets. The Compact fits a maximum of 4.

If an ATX mainboard is installed, it closes with a little distance to the partition wall of the PSU room and to the upper cover. For the assembly of an AiO water cooling there is enough space. If thicker radiators are mounted, however, it should be checked before installation whether the mounting can still be done without problems after the mainboard has been installed.

The area behind the mainboard also looks very tidy and orderly. In comparison to its big brother, the cover of the lower area and the fan hub are missing here. But there is more than enough space for good cable management.

In the lower area, two 3.5-inch HDDs can be mounted in the already mounted one. There is also space for two 2.5-inch drives.

Finally, the interior leaves a very good impression, even if it has a bit less functionality than the Define 7. Both the room separation and the already mounted cable ties allow for optimal cabling.

System setup in Fractal Define 7 Compact

The following hardware is installed in the Define 7 Compact:

CPU Intel i5-2500K
CPU cooler Enermax AquaFusion 240
Mainboard EVGA P67 SLI Micro
RAM NoName 12 GB DDR3 RAM
Graphics card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 Ti OC 4G,
Power supply be quiet! straight power E9 power supply 480W CM
Data medium Two 2.5-inch SSDs

If you don’t want to install a top radiator, you don’t have to pay much attention to the installation in the Define 7 Compact. The installation of the above mentioned hardware was easy and completed with cable management within 20 minutes.

The rooms are generously dimensioned in every respect and offer space for any hardware combination. After installation of the mainboard, there is sufficient space both above and below for the correct connection of cables.

The use of a power supply unit with cable management or a somewhat larger energy dispenser is also possible without any problems. The mounted Straight Power E9 from be quiet! could thus be installed without any problems.

The space separation between the power supply and mainboard area and the very well placed cable bushings allow an optimal cable management in the visible area. Furthermore, drives can be mounted invisibly behind the mainboard. Closing the right side is possible without any problems even with a large amount of cables in case of suboptimal installation.

Cooling capacity and volume

The housing has two pre-mounted fans, 140 mm at the front and 120 mm at the rear. Fractal Design deliberately dispenses with RGB lighting or LED control. The fan hub of its big brother is missing, though. The control of all connected fans must therefore be done via the mainboard, for example.

At low speed, the already mounted fans are no longer noticeable from 50-75 cm. Even with this configuration trimmed to silence, the cooling of the installed hardware is always possible without any problems due to the pre-mounted fans.

At maximum speed the fans are of course noticeable, but not disturbingly loud. For 99% of all hardware configurations the silent tuning is more than sufficient.

Everyday experience

The Define 7 Compact stands non-slip and stable on black rubberized feet. Optically, the simpler case is very successful and looks both modern and high-quality. The modularity of the case allows most hardware configurations: a water cooling, large graphics card or high CPU cooler? No problem for the Define 7 Compact!

Conclusion on the Fractal Design Define 7 Compact

At the end of the test it is clear that the predecessor of the Define 7 Compact – the Define C from 2016 – has been given a worthy successor. The potential buyer receives a simple and high-quality case, which can accommodate most hardware combinations due to its modularity and versatility. The workmanship is on an excellent level and the choice of materials is convincing. The case deliberately dispenses with RGB lighting and its own fan control, but offers many possibilities for installation, such as the alternative top panel or the optional glass side panel.

The biggest concurrence of the Define 7 Compact is in-house. Currently the Define 7 Compact is available for ca. 100 €*, the Define 7 for ca. 140 €*. Those who don’t need the functions of its big brother can save the 40% surcharge and get a well thought-out and simple case with perfect workmanship with the Define 7 Compact.

Fractal Design Define 7 Compact

Workmanship
Structure
Features
Dampening
Cooling
Value for money

95/100

Perfect and simple case for everyone.

Fractal Design Define 7 Compact Black TG Dark price comparison


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Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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