Fractal Design Define C TG Case Review
Fractal Design PC Case
Define C TG
The Fractal Design marketing material identifies this case as a flexible platform for a powerful ATX or Micro ATX build that wastes no space, the Define C TG Series is the perfect solution to satisfy this balance of capacity and efficiency while opening up the side thanks to a full tempered glass side panel.
In this review we'll explore these claims and see what the Fractal Design Define C TG ATX case has to offer.
- ATX and Micro ATX motherboard compatibility
- 7 - Expansion slots
- 2 - 3.5" HDD positions (can also accommodate 2.5" units)
- 3 - 2.5" dedicated SSD unit positions
- 1 - ModuVent plate
- 7 - Fan positions (2 Fractal Design Dynamic X2 GP-12 120mm fans included)
- 2 - Dust filters (Bottom fan + PSU Front fans Top panel)
- Full power supply shroud
- Tempered glass side panel
- Case dimensions (WxHxD): 399 x 212 x 440mm
- Case dimensions - with feet/screws/protrusions: 413 x 217 x 453mm
- Net weight: 8.7 kg
The Fractal Design Define C TG is smaller than a typical ATX and Micro ATX case, measuring in at 399 x 212 x 440mm (WxHxD). For those seeking an even lower profile variant which supports mini-ITX or micro-ATX motherboards, this series also offers a Define Mini C TG measuring in at 399 x 212 x 399mm (WxHxD) - priced at $95 and $90, respectively.
Color selection for this series is limited to one color, black. The black paint has a semi-matte finish to it and the removable front panel (where a case door is usually located) has a brushed metal texture, but still made of plastic.
Absent is support for optical bays. Under the front panel is a familiar Fractal Design slated grill airflow intake with dust filter, also included is a bottom chassis dust filter that is conveniently accessible from the front.
Top panel has a clip-on ModuVent fan-slot cover that can be removed or added based on build configuration. Opt to use the ModuVent cover for additional sound dampening or replace with the included magnetic dust cover to add some top fans for better air flow - the choice is yours.
In past Fractal Design case reviews I've criticized the ModuVent clips and their potential to break. Well, it happened - one broke off while doing the product photo shoot. First and foremost, on this particular model the ModuVent clips are directional and even more fragile due to a hollow plastic design. I unknowingly attempted to reattach the cover in a reverse position which in turn snapped off a clip. There is no visual indicator for orientation so I can foresee others easily making the same mistake.
While we're on the topic of fragility. I should also mention that our unit arrived with a broken magnetic dust cover. I'll attribute this to the paper thin plastic composition and poor handling at the factory.
Front edge of the case houses an Input/Output for standard headphone and mic jacks, recessed reset button and power button which illuminates while powered on. Additionally 2 USB ports (USB 3.0) are present too.
This enclosure is identical to the Fractal Design Define C, but as the TG designation indicates, it comes with a tempered glass window side panel instead of acrylic. This shows off internal components, but may offer less noise absorption as there is no sound dampening material along the glass in comparison to a full steel panel with sound dampening material along entire backside.
Though the left side panel is easily removed, it isn't necessarily quick access as no latch mechanism present. Instead, the glass panel is held in place by four removable thumbscrews seated on rubber knobs to prevent falling down once removed.
I found securing the glass panel back in place to be cumbersome and didn't always align flush to the case.
Unlike the left panel, right side has captive thumbscrews which eliminates the chance of them being misplaced as they're affixed.
Interior of the Design Define C TG has the same black finish inside which gives it a nice uniform appearance - appropriate seeing as this is a full window case.
During the PC assembly stage you'll appreciate the motherboard plate having a cut-out (window) in the area behind the CPU socket to aid in installation and removal of CPU coolers. CPU coolers up to a maximum 175mm in height are supported.
The open air design offers optimal airflow and though this case supports a 5 drive configuration, absent are any front facing hard drive or optical cages to obstruct cooling.
For cooling, included are two Fractal Design Dynamic X2 GP-12 120mm fans - one in front and the other located at rear of the chassis. Enthusiasts looking to move beyond the cooling basics will be excited for the wide variety of 120/140mm fan placements and versatile mixture of water cooling compatibility options: Front - 3x 120 or 2x 140 1x Dynamic X2 GP-12 , Top - 2x 120/140, Bottom - 1x 120, Rear - 1x 120 1x Dynamic X2 GP-12. Limitations on radiator thickness are applicable, so please confirm your build plan with Fractal Design product page specifications prior to purchase.
A full length power supply shroud runs along the bottom of this case, providing a clean look by concealing the bottom mount drive cage and excess cables.
Drives are accessible via the backside of this case. As shown in the photo, there is a bottom cage with support for two 3.5" or 2.5" drives and an upper bracket mount supporting three 2.5" drives.
Out-of-box cable management is already neatly ran and tied down with velcro strapping. Pass-through holes for cabling and hoses are all outlined with rubber grommets, this provides protection from sharp edges and chafing when routing. There is plenty of physical space (15mm vertical / 35mm horizontal) behind the motherboard plate for clean cable routes.
ConclusionThe Good - Pros
- Low-profile design
- Full panel tempered glass panel looks better than acrylic
- Excellent cable management & spacing
- Includes two 120mm fans
- All intakes have dust covers
The Bad - Cons
- ModuVent cover has no visual indicator for orientation
The Ugly - Issues
- Magnetic dust cover is fragile plastic and prone to breakage
- ModuVent cover clips are weak and prone to breakage
The Verdict - Opinion
The clear tempered glass side panel in combination with minimalist design and clean lines offers an elegant look. However, as I've outlined, this case suffers a few shortfalls, especially the inferior broken parts.
If you're willing to look past these issues then the Define C TG is a worthy purchase. Otherwise, there certainly are similar cases available at the same price point or less.