The Define S gets the mini-ITX treatment

Fractal Design has reduced their excellent Define S enclosure all the way down from ATX to mini-ITX, and the Define Nano S offers plenty of room for a small form-factor case.

Large mini-ITX cases have become the trend in the past year or so, with the NZXT Manta the most recent (and possibly the most extreme) example. Fractal Design's Nano S isn't quite as large as the Manta, but it is cavernous inside thanks to a completely open internal layout. There are no optical drive bays, no partitions for PSU or storage, and really not much of anything inside the main compartment at all as Fractal Design has essentially miniaturized the Define S enclosure.

We have the windowed version of the Define Nano S for review here, which adds some interest to a very understated design. There is still something very sophisticated about this sort of industrial design, and I must admit to liking it quite a bit myself. Details such as the side vents for front panel air intake do add some interest, and that big window helps add some style as well (and builders could always add some increasingly ubiquitous RGB lighting inside!).

Before moving on we'll take a look at the specifications and features of the Nano S:


  • Motherboard compatibility: ITX
  • Expansion slots: 2
  • Storage bays:
    • 2x 3.5" HDD/2.5" SSD positions
    • 2x 2.5" dedicated SSD unit positions (fits SSDs up to 13mm thick)
  • Cooling:
    • 6x Fan positions (1 Fractal Design Dynamic GP14 140mm fan + 1 Fractal Design Dynamic GP-12 120mm fan included)
    • Filtered fan slots in the front and bottom (ejects from the front of the case)
  • Clearance:
    • CPU coolers up to 160mm in height
    • ATX PSUs up to 160mm deep (shorter PSUs recommended for easier cable management)
    • Graphics cards up to 315mm in length with front fans mounted (Cards wider than the dual slot bracket are not recommended) 
    • 17 – 35mm of space for cable routing behind the motherboard plate
  • Case dimensions (WxHxD): 203 x 330 x 400mm
  • Case dimensions – wtih feet/protrusions/screws: 203 x 344 x 412mm
  • Net weight: 4.6 kg
  • Case volume: 26.80 litres


  • Velcro straps included for easy cable management
  • Both side panels and rear HDD/SSD brackets feature smart captive thumbscrews
  • Dense sound dampening material on front and right side panels; left side panel includes a transparent window
  • ModuVent on top of case for further silent computing or additional ventilation

Thanks to Fractal Design for providing the Define Nano S for our review!

First Impressions

The Define Nano S is the spitting image of the larger Define S, and if you liked the understated look of that enclosure then you'll like this, too.

There are no drive bays to interrupt the front panel, and the case has straight lines and a simple rectangular shape.

The top I/O panel includes the usual USB and audio

There's a large window on the side panel, and sound-reducing insulation on the inside of the solid panel opposite, as well as inside of the upper panel.

That upper panel is both insulated and removeable; a necessity if you choose to use the upper fan mounts.

Around back there's a 120 mm fan mount (with pre-installed exhaust fan), the mITX standard 2x expansion bays, and an ATX power supply mount.

The bottom of the enclosure sits on four shiny silver (plastic) feet with rubber pads to add grip and prevent vibration.

The enclosure's air intakes (front, bottom) include sturdy filters, and the bottom in particular is extremely easy to access. Unusually, it slides out from the front of the enclosure. (Our Editor-in-Chief heartily approves.)

The bottom fan filter slides out the front of the enclosure. Convenient!

Finally, we'll glance at the included hardware pack, which offers separate bags for the various screws.

Next we'll take a look at the interior of the Nano S and try out a system build.

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