Completed Build, Performance, and Conclusion
For this example build with the micro-ATX Define Mini C I wanted to emphasize just how powerful a smaller build can be, and while my Radeon R9 290X graphics card is getting a little long in the tooth, there's no question that the combination of an X99 motherboard, 6-core processor (i7-6800K), and quad-channel memory won't hold back the performance of even the fastest GPUs available.
This is a very good looking system when built, and cable routing was a breeze. I have no complaints about the build process with the Mini C, and the results speak for themselves.
The back of the case looks great, too; with plenty of room to organize cables neatly. Too bad the back panel doesn't have a window to show off the clean results!
Looking first at the CPU numbers (using our standard Core i5-based test setup so previous review numbers can be compared), the Mini C performs well for a small volume enclosure. The closest in size is actually the EVOLV ITX, and here the Mini C performed slightly better than even the larger Carbide 600Q.
Moving on to GPU temps, the Mini C suffered from its smaller internal chamber, and the single intake fan that ships with the case. With two (or three) intake fans I think the results would be much better, but temps were still just fine under full load with the R9 290X, coming no where near the thermal limit of the card.
Noise levels were mixed, and while the position on this chart looks below average, it was only the GPU noise that kept this from a higher finish. The system idle and CPU load noise was minimal, and GPU noise was the result of the card's fans having to hit just over 80% to keep the card cool under load. Again, a extra quiet intake fan or two would help create some needed positive air pressure and help lower the GPU fan speeds and related noise.
The Fractal Design Define series has version of the case for everyone, and this Mini C is a welcome addition to the family for anyone considering a smaller build, but not willing to make the sacrifices necessary for mini-ITX. The Mini C is well-built, looks great, and produces a clean build. It has a small volume, meaning GPU temps will depend more on airflow than usual, so adding to the single 120 mm intake fan is a must to keep things cool and quiet. Overall, I find it very easy to like and recommend the Define Mini C, which carries a retail price of $84.99 for the windowed version we reviewed.
- Very high build quality, attention to detail
- Good cooling support for a smaller enclosure design
- Modular HDD design allows for enhanced cooling support up front
- Optional top fan mounts include a magnetic screen filter
- Excellent cable organization
- Quiet performance
- Limited airflow from included 120 mm fans
- Higher than average GPU temps, case will require more intake airflow
If micro-ATX is your form-factor of choice, the Define Mini C is a fantastic option with room for a very powerful system that looks great and is easy to build. Slap in a powerful motherboard, GPU, and add an extra intake fan, and you'll be happy you went small with your next build. Recommended!