Introduction and Case Exterior
A new micro-ATX version of the Define chassis
The Define Mini C is the micro-ATX variant in Fractal Design's excellent Define series, and this compact chassis is nearly as small as some of the mini-ITX cases we've looked at in recent months. The advantages of micro-ATX for a small form-factor build are undeniable, including added expansion slots (and multi-GPU support), and more robust power delivery for greater CPU flexibility including AMD socket AM3/AM3+ support.
I freely admit to being a small form-factor enthusiast myself, and as much as I like mini-ITX, there are times when micro-ATX just makes sense. I mentioned AMD compatibility above, but even if you're building with Intel there are reasons to consider mATX. One of these is Intel's enthusiast platform, as X99 requires at least a micro-ATX board for quad-channel memory and greater PCIe flexibility. (Naturally, at least one mITX X99 board is available, but this is limited to a pair of memory slots and – of course – has just one PCIe slot.)
As soon as I unpacked the Define Mini C, I knew it would make a perfect home for the EVGA X99 Micro2 motherboard I had on hand. This micro-ATX board makes a compelling argument for the smaller form-factor, as very little is lost vs. full ATX. The Mini C (which sounds like the name of a mini-ITX product, but Fractal's mITX variant is the called Nano S – which I reviewed a few months back) should make a great home for a powerful compact system. Let's get started!
- 6 fan positions (2 Fractal Design Dynamic X2 GP12 120mm fans included)
- Filtered fan slots in the front, top and bottom (ejects from the front of the case)
- 15 – 35mm of space for cable routing behind the motherboard plate
- 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, left and right side panels
- ModuVent™ on top of case for further silent computing or additional ventilation
- Micro ATX and ITX motherboard compatibility
- 5 expansion slots
- 2 – 3.5" HDD positions; 3 – 2.5" dedicated SSD unit positions
- Cooling system
- Front: 2 – 120/140 mm fans (includes 1 Fractal Design Dynamic X2 GP12 fan)
- Rear: 1 – 120 mm fan (includes 1 Fractal Design Dynamic X2 GP12 fan)
- Top: 2 – 120/140 mm fan (not included)
- Bottom: 1 – 120 mm fan (not included)
- Dust filters: Bottom, top and front intakes
- Water cooling compatibility – Radiators
- Front – 280, 240, 140 and 120 mm. Max width 144 mm
- Top – 240 and 120 mm radiators. Max component height on motherboard 40mm
- Rear – 120 mm. Max width 125 mm
- Component clearance:
- CPU coolers up to 168mm in height
- ATX PSUs up to 175mm deep
- Graphics cards up to 315mm in length with front fans mounted
- Front interface
- 2 USB 3.0
- Audio in/out
- Power button with LED
- HDD activity LED
- Reset button
- Case dimensions – with feet/protrusions/screws (WxHxL): 210 x 412 x 413 mm (8.27 x 16.22 x 16.26 inches)
- Net weight: 6.3 kg (13.89 lbs)
- Fractal Design Define Mini C, Windowed: $84.99, Newegg
The Define Mini C has styling identical to the rest of the current Define lineup. If you like the minimalist aesthetic as I do, this is a good thing. There are no external drive bays on any of these Define cases, and the front panel is solid.
Up top is the I/O, and includes the usual connectivity on either side of the round power button.
The side panel of our sample is windowed, and a non-windowed variant is also available.
The top panel features a removable insert if fans or radiators will be used on the upper mounts, and this panel is insulated to reduce noise for builds that don't need fans up top.
There isn't much to say about the back side, which has a solid (and insulated) panel.
The rear of the Mini C offers five expansion slots and a 120 mm fan mount (with an exhaust fan pre-installed).
On the bottom there are four rubber-tipped feet, and a filter that runs the length of the case, and slides out from the front:
Next we'll tour the interior of the Define Mini C.