PC Components

Fractal Design Define S2 Review: The Ideal Case for Every PC?

The “Define S” presented three years ago has got a successor. With its chassis-free interior and numerous installation options, this is also intended to inspire friends of water-cooled systems in particular. However, the successor model “Define S2” has been revised in many respects and offers numerous extras.

To what extent it differs from its predecessor, whether the innovations are actually useful, and whether it meets the high expectations, our detailed test of the new case should clarify.

Design and Workmanship

The housing is kept simple on the outside. In terms of color the choice remains between Black, Blackout, Gunmetal and White. While the Black model has white accents in the interior, the Blackout model is completely black. The lid is removable and a side window made of tempered glass provides a view of the hardware installed inside. The first innovation can already be found here. If the window of the predecessor could only be opened and closed with a screw, it now has a screwless closing mechanism. A look inside reveals that the open case construction introduced with the Define S is continued with the successor. Otherwise, however, the design of the case differed significantly from that of its predecessor. The Define S2 has a power supply cover, a new lid construction and some other extras – more details can be found in the second section “Equipment and module construction”.

Fractal Design Define S2
Fractal Design Define S2

All in all, the first glance inside the housing reveals that the concept of the predecessor has been consistently further developed. The housing looks simple and tidy. The lack of RGB lighting, which is a standard feature of most competitor products in this price range, is a particular problem.

Overall, the design of the new case is above all practical and functional. Design aspects were only considered cautiously, which does not necessarily have to be negative. In the end, the case looks unspectacular, but coherent.

The materials used are of the usual high quality. Fractal Design cannot afford to compromise on workmanship at a price far above that of its predecessor. The glass pane, which can now be opened without much effort, is particularly striking. Here the manufacturer has shown that he has worked on the criticisms of the predecessor.

Technical Details

Universal holder for 3.5″/2.5″ drives 3
Holder for 2.5″ drives 2
Expansion slots 7 + 2 vertical
Mainboard compatibility eATX (up to 285 mm wide), ATX, mATX, ITX
Power supply Form factor ATX
Front connections 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0,

2 x USB 2.0, Audio I/O

Fan positions 9
Fan front 3 x 120/140 mm,
(2 x Dynamic X2 GP-14 included)
fan upper side 3 x 120/140 mm
Rear fan 1 x 120/140 mm
(1 x Dynamic X2 GP-14 included)
Fan bottom 2 x 120/140 mm
Dust filter floor fan + PSU

Front fan

Fan on the top side

Radiator Front 120/240/360 mm
140/280 mm
Radiator upper side – 120/240/360 mm
– 140/280/420 mm (max 35 mm height of mainboard components)
Radiator rear 120 mm
Radiator Ground 120/240 mm
140/280 mm
Max. Length PSU 300 mm
Max. Length GPU Max 440 mm with fans installed in the front
Max. CPU cooler height 185 mm
Cable management room 23 mm
Tool-less push-to-lock closure Both side panels
Loss resistant knurled screws HDD & SSD mounts
Left side panel Black/Blackout/Gunmetal Version: Slightly tinted Tempered Glass
White Version: Clear Tempered Glass
side section right Steel, with sound insulation to industrial standard
Dimensions of housing (LxWxH) 543 x 233 x 465 mm
Dimensions Housing without feet, protruding components, screws 535 x 233 x 448 mm
Weight Net 11.6 kg
Price Black € 119.90 *, Blackout € 36.00 *, Gunmetal € 4.83 *, White € 320.77 *

Equipment and Modular Construction

The equipment of the new model was already briefly mentioned in the first section. The basis of the predecessor model was adopted and many new features were added.

The lid of the housing is particularly striking in addition to the reworked side window. The new construction used here makes it much easier to remove the lid – it can now be removed at the touch of a button. The cover is also insulated and equipped with a removable holder for mounting a radiator. Insulation can also be found in the right side panel and in the front.

A further innovation is the additional USB port with USB-C connection with 3.1 Gen2 connection, which can be found on the back.

I/O-Panel of Fractal Design Define S2
I/O-Panel of Fractal Design Define S2

In addition, the mounting places for hard disks are now located behind the mainboard tray and on the panel in the interior, which means that the area directly behind the front remains free. HDD cages and a 5.25-inch slot are completely eliminated. The space thus created can be used for flexible radiator mounting and/or for attaching a pump or other hardware.

The housing offers space for nine 120 or 140 mm fans and three radiators. A 420 mm radiator can be mounted in the lid and a smaller 360 mm radiator in the front. Further space for fans or radiators can be found at the rear and on the floor in the power supply chamber. There’s room for another 280-mm radiator.

Compared to the predecessor model, Fractal Design thus expands the available space and creates more freedom for the user. Fractal Design presented a sketch of the various possible combinations for the installation of the individual cooling elements as part of the publication of the new model.

Further innovations in comparison to the predecessor model include the cable routing system with Velcro fastenings, which allows a tidy interior without cable clutter, the fan control board with PWM hub and the option of mounting the graphics card upright. This requires an optionally available PCIe riser cable.

Within the scope of our test, we naturally assess this flexibility offered by the Define S2 positively. The manufacturer has managed to make a generous housing even more generous and thus offer the user a lot of freedom. The innovations have all been thought through and make sense. Fractal Design proves to follow a clear line, which should accommodate the customers. You will find a functional design with numerous useful extras and the greatest possible freedom when setting up your own PC system.

System Structure in the Define S2

As with the predecessor model, the drive-free interior provides plenty of space when mounting the hardware. As could be shown in the previous paragraph, the available space was even extended.

Our installed hardware:

For example, the GPU can be up to 440 mm long, resulting in a huge selection. By the way, this applies to both horizontal and vertical mounting – the Define S2 offers freedom in every respect.

The processor cooler can be up to 185 mm high, power supplies with a total length of 300 mm can be installed without any problems, and there are hardly any size restrictions for radiators, provided that the available spaces are carefully selected.

Radiators can be elegantly installed in the open lid. If the additional holder on the cover is unscrewed, the heat exchanger can be screwed to the mounting plate outside the housing. This enables the components to be attached quickly and easily in the open lid.

Furthermore, the already mentioned cable routing system, which is partly equipped with Velcro fasteners, is very positive for us. It enables ideal cable routing in the housing.

All in all, the system design succeeds without any problems due to the generous interior, the clever cable routing and the few restrictions. PC lovers will find a case in the Define S2 that hardly gives them any instructions – almost any hardware can be installed here.

The improvements that have been made are particularly noticeable here. This means that hardware components can be installed with almost no relevant size restrictions when using the most varied assembly combination options, which is of course a great advantage.

In this test point we find therefore exclusively plus points.

Cooling Capacity

Our test of the cooling performance confirms the very positive impression we have had so far. Fractal Design makes no mistakes here either. All components are cooled well and evenly. We particularly like the ModuVent technology, which allows the lid to be either open or closed.

As with the predecessor model, the manufacturer attaches great importance to low noise levels. For this purpose, insulation was applied at various points. In the test, the device is not completely silent, but still pleasantly quiet. Here, too, we can state that our expectations have been fulfilled.

Fractal Design Define S2 Review

Fractal Design has significantly further developed the Define S. The basic concept was adopted and significantly upgraded in many respects. The interior, which was free of running gear, was made even more generous by clever restructuring. Criticisms of the predecessor model have been consistently revised – for example, the side window can now be opened and closed without a screw. Furthermore, the manufacturer has consistently worked on offering the user as much freedom as possible. We have to say that we have succeeded. Fractal Design delivers with the Define S2 an absolutely high-quality case, which offers endless possibilities and is completely convincing. Only the high price – especially in comparison to Fractal Design Define R6 – we notice negatively. But the market will certainly still regulate that.

To answer the question from the title – No, the Fractal Design Define S2 is not the ideal case for every PC – but almost. If you want to use more memory you should have a look at the Define R6.

Fractal Design Define S2

Value for Money

A superb chassis with a drive-free interior - ideal for custom water cooling.

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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