Not so long ago we tested the case Define S2 by Fractal Design. For those who haven’t read the article or can’t remember it: The case was rated as excellent by us, which is mainly due to the drive-free interior and the resulting great freedom for system construction.
Now the manufacturer has introduced a further successor model, which at least optically differs drastically from its predecessor. It also differs from all other Fractal Design enclosures presented to date, as the brand was previously known for its optical restraint. Of course, we didn’t miss the chance to take a closer look at this case as well. What we think of the new Define S2 Vision RGB, what it scores with and what we think is worth knowing about this case, you can read in our latest review.
|Specifications||Define S2 Vision RGB||Define S2 Vision Blackout|
|Universal holder for 3.5″/2.5″ drives||3|
|Holder for 2.5″ drives||2 included, 5 positions total|
|Expansion slots||7 + 2 vertical|
|Mainboard compatibility||EATX (up to 285 mm width) / 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|
|Fan positions||9 (6 + 3 if Top Bracket is installed)|
|Fan front||3 x 120/140 mm
(3 x prism AL-14 PWM ARGB included)
|3 x 120/140 mm
(3 x Dynamic X2 GP-14 PWM included)
|Fan upper side||3 x 120/140 mm (if top bracket is installed)|
|Rear fan||1 x 120/140 mm
(1 x prism AL-14 PWM ARGB included)
|1 x 120/140 mm
(1 x Dynamic X2 GP-14 PWM included)
|Fan bottom||2 x 120/140 mm|
|Dust filter||Fan on bottom + PSU
Fan in the frontFan at the top (if Top Bracket is installed)
|Radiator Front||120/240/360 mm
|Radiator upper side||
With Top Bracket installed:
|Radiator rear||120 mm|
|Radiator Ground||120/240 mm
|Max. Length PSU||300 mm|
|Max. Length GPU||440 mm|
|Max. CPU cooler height||185 mm|
|Cable management room||23 mm|
|Rubberized cable glands||Yes|
|Tool-less push-to-lock closure||Both sides|
|Loss resistant knurled screws||HDD & SSD holders|
|Left side panel||Tinted Tempered Glass|
|Side section right||Tinted Tempered Glass|
|Additional illumination||400 mm AR-4020 ARGB Strip with LEDs||N/A|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||543 x 233 x 465 mm|
|Dimensions without feet, screws, etc. (LxWxH)||535 x 233 x 448 mm|
|Price||€ 308.01 *||€ 223.77 *|
Design and Workmanship
Once the housing has been unpacked, the amazement begins. It’s hard to tell that this is a Fractal Design product. A few years ago the opinion prevailed among housing manufacturers that insight into the interior was desirable. This opinion was probably born out of the curiosity and joy of presentation of the end customers – if you build a system worth seeing with lighting effects and great hardware, you don’t want to dungeon it behind impenetrable walls. Inspection windows have become standard and are still extremely popular today for the reasons mentioned.
Fractal Design is now taking the principle of letting the eye see to the extreme. The Fractal Design Define S2 Vision offers four hard glass viewing windows. In addition to the right and left side panels, the front and top of the case are also made of glass. Thus the interior of the case, which hopefully has been beautifully prepared, can be admired from almost every angle.
Those who don’t strive for mere functionality with their PC, but also attach importance to aesthetics, should be thrilled. The largely glass housing is fascinating in any case. What is also striking here is that the case otherwise looks largely unspectacular. As exciting as the four windows are, so ordinary is the rest. That doesn’t have to be negative. Rather, it offers a good contrast and makes the case appear suitable for everyday use.
A look inside – almost unavoidable – reveals that Fractal Design also attaches great importance to tidiness in the vision version of the Define S2. Thus, the end customer again has a lot of space and correspondingly large scope for design.
The materials used are of the usual high quality. Both the windows made of tinted tempered glass and the metallic components of the case appear stable and very well finished. We also like the attachment of the glass panes, which are simply snapped in and then screwed tight. We don’t find any points of criticism here.
The front panel is extremely lavishly equipped. In addition to the audio connections, there are also two USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports each as well as a modern USB Type C connection.
The Fractal Design Define S2 Vision is available in both RGB and blackout versions. In our RGB version, instead of black fans, four addressable RGB fans are installed, which provide impressive illumination of the interior.
All in all, the design and workmanship make for a very good first impression, which arouses our interest in the Define S2 Vision.
The Inside of the Case
In addition to the design, we are also interested in the technical aspect of the new housing. What is possible with the Define S2 Vision? How does it differ from its predecessor? For whom is it interesting?
It should be noted here that the vast majority of technical aspects hardly differ from those of the predecessor. With the Define S2, numerous changes have been made compared to the original Define S. The new Define S2 is the first of its kind in the world. The vulnerabilities of the original model have been revised. The leap from the Define S2 to the Define S2 Vision, on the other hand, is much smaller – perhaps also because much less time has simply passed to collect feedback and implement innovations? Maybe Fractal Design already created a great case with its predecessor, which could only be marginally improved now?
On closer inspection, however, we notice some changes that we consider to be useful. This includes the relocation of the front fan brackets to the rear. The bracket is now located behind the fans, which allows a better and more unobstructed view of the fans – which is certainly in line with the design concept.
Instead of three pre-installed Dynamic X2 fans, there are four Dynamic X2 PWM or Prima ARGB PWM fans in the Define S2 Vision, depending on the version. The RGB fans are controlled by the supplied Adjust R1 ARGB Controller, which offers eight preset colours, five levels of lighting intensity and six lighting effects. The integrated magnet allows it to be placed comfortably in the housing. The fans can simply be connected in series, so that only one connection is required on the controller. Alternatively, control can also be via compatible motherboards with addressable, digital 3-pin RGB headers.
A further RGB LED strip is integrated in the glass lid of the housing. If additional fans or radiators are to be mounted in the cover for cooling, the ModoVent cover must be replaced, replacing the glass cover with mesh. The RGB LED strip will also be expanded.
We especially liked the series connection of the RGB fans with the usual 3-pin plug, which is also used on mainboards. No other connections are used. However, products from other manufacturers such as Phanteks or Lian Li can also be integrated by simply integrating them into the series connection using the adapter cable usually used for the motherboard.
In addition to the new RGB controller, a new PWM controller for fan control is also integrated. The Nexus 9P PWM fan hub now supports up to nine PWM fans, six 3-pin and three 4-pin fans as before. The controller receives the PWM signal from the mainboard and a SATA connector provides additional power.
In the Define S2 Vision, the mounting places for radiators have been somewhat restricted compared to the Define S2. The lid only offers mounting places after the cover has been replaced anyway, but then also no longer for 420 mm radiators, but up to a maximum of 360/280 mm. The floor has also been restricted, 280 mm radiators are no longer possible here, the maximum is 240/140 mm.
Those were all the changes from the Define S2 Vision we noticed. Apart from that, the case of course offers many more great specifications, which the Define S2 already offered. Thus various data carriers and mainboards up to E-ATX can be installed. Both graphics cards and CPU coolers are virtually unlimited in length and height. The graphics card can also be installed vertically with a riser cable (not included).
In order to keep the dust outside the housing, dust filters can be found both on the floor and in the front. If you replace the Top Bracket and open it, a dust filter is also available here. However, due to the glass side panels, no sound insulation was required.
Rubberized cable glands can be found everywhere in the housing, which always fit particularly well at Fractal Design – other manufacturers can definitely cut themselves a slice here. Behind the mainboard tray there is 23 mm space for cable management and Velcro straps to fix the cables.
All in all, Fractal Design does not deviate from the concept of its predecessor. Furthermore, the focus is on the greatest possible space, the greatest possible freedom in the construction of the system and a certain clarity with regard to the internal design. We classify the resulting flexibility as very positive.
System Construction in the Define S2 Vision
Our installed hardware:
- MSI Z370 Gaming Pro Carbon
- Intel i7-8700K @ 5,2 GHz
- 32 GB Crucial Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB RAM
- ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Strix
- Samsung SSD 960 EVO 500 GB
- Noiseblocker eLoop Fan in 120 mm
- Halos Lux Digital RGB Fan Frame in 120 mm
- be quiet! Silent Loop 240 mm Complete Water Cooling
The installation of our hardware could be done easily and quickly. It’s fun to build Fractal Design Define S2 Vision RGB. We were particularly impressed by the RGB lighting that can be switched in series.
At first we were a little surprised that the radiator of our water cooling could not be mounted in the lid. After replacing the top bracket, this was also possible without any further problems. The glass panel could simply be removed at the push of a button, then a few screws had to be loosened to screw the other Top Bracket back in place.
As with the Define S2, the radiator can also be mounted outside the housing on the Top Bracket. This is to be recommended, because you can lay the cables of the fans much easier behind the mainboard.
In our test we were able to install hardware without any problems. The case offers very generous space, which not only allows a lot of freedom in the choice of hardware, but also makes mounting considerably easier. In the course of this we also noticed the very easy opening and closing of the side parts. The attachment or loosening of screws is not necessary at any time.
The Define S2 has been described by us as excellent for the installation of high-quality water cooling systems. This is also the case with the Define S2 Vision (RGB). With up to nine installable fans or radiators, the housing offers a host of cooling options. Four fans are already pre-assembled.
Of course, one could think that the cooling suffers due to the glass surfaces, but fortunately this is not the case. Fractal Design has ensured a good distance between the front fans and the glass surface, so that they can draw enough air through the side openings.
The cooling options are therefore very extensive, so that even powerful hardware components that require very sophisticated cooling can be used without any problems. Thanks to the supplied holder for a water pump, custom water cooling is also possible.
Another aspect taken over from the predecessor is the optional opening of the lid. The user is free to decide whether he wants to place the top of the glass part or a dust filter. If fans or radiators are mounted in the cover, the dust filter is used. This gives further freedom in the conception of the entire system.
Conclusion of the Review
All in all, the model we tested differs from its predecessor primarily in its very transparent design. Technically there are only marginal changes, which we consider to be very useful. It is a pity that there is less space for radiators.
Our verdict is positive: The case offers a lot of space and therefore a lot of freedom. Who wants to build a powerful system with water cooling, which should convince both technically and optically, is very well advised with this housing.