Fractal Design Meshify 2 Case Review
A classic design has evolved
Fractal describes their updated Meshify 2 as a performance-oriented ATX mid-tower with an emphasis on flexibility, cooling and some bold aesthetics. I can find no fault with that description.
Impressions of a Stealth Fighter
As for appearance, I can only say that after standing up the case for a quick turn around view, I was immediately struck by how appealing the entire case was. The classic Fractal angular mesh front, the two tone color scheme, tinted glass, accents and dimensions all seemed to add up to something rather striking in a PC case! It’s the not-so-subtle cues to a stealth fighter perhaps?
In fact, two other PC aficionados that saw it immediately wanted to do a build in it for their own personal use. This case can win admiration on sight, it seems.
- Model: Meshify 2
- As Tested Model: Meshify 2 Gray TG Light Tint
- Motherboard compatibility: E-ATX (max 285 mm) , ATX, mATX, Mini-ITX
- Expansion Slots: 7 + 2
- Case Dimensions (LxWxH): 542 x 240 x 474 mm
- Case Dimensions w/o feet/protrusions/screws (LxWxH): 541 x 240 x 454 mm
- Net weight: Solid Panel: 10.1 kg, TG Panel: 10.5 kg
- CPU cooler max height: 185 mm
- GPU max length:
- Storage layout: 315 mm
- Open layout: 491 mm (467 mm w/ front fan)
- PSU max length: 250 mm (with HDD cage installed)
- Power supply type: ATX
- Front interface:
- 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
- 2 x USB 3.0
- Audio I/O, Power button, Reset button
- Total fan mounts: 9x 120/140 mm
- Front fan: 3x 120/140 mm (2x Dynamic X2 GP-14 included)
- Top fan: 3x 120/140 mm
- Rear fan: 1x 120/140 mm (1x Dynamic X2 GP-14 included)
- Bottom fan: 2x 120/140 mm
- Dust filters: Top, front,and bottom
- Front radiator: Up to 360/280 mm
- Top radiator: Up to 360/420 mm
- Rear radiator: 120 mm
- Bottom radiator: Up to 240/280 mm
- Cable routing space (at back): 30 mm
- Tool-less push-to-lock: Top front and side panels
- Left side panel: Steel or tempered glass
- Right side panel: Steel
- Black Solid: $129.99
- Black TG Dark Tint or Light Tint: $139.99
- Gray TG Light Tint: $139.99
- White TG Clear Tint: $139.99
- (Currently available from Amazon)
“The Meshify 2 is a high-performance case with a bold, stealth-inspired aesthetic. Its striking exterior features bolt-free, flush tempered glass, a fully removable top granting excellent interior access, and a fully redesigned front with USB-C, hinged mesh panel and removable nylon filter. The flexible dual-layout interior supports large storage arrays and multi-radiator setups that makes cooling a breeze.”
Meshify 2 Styling
There are a number of interesting features and design points to call out here, including a dual-layout interior for disk heavy tasks, water cooling options galore, removable panels and easy access filters. The new Fractal Meshify 2 models will arrive in a variety of stylistic colors – black (no glass), blacker (TG light tint side panel), blackest (TG dark tint), gray (with light tint TG panel – our review unit) and even white with a clear TG panel!
There is a great deal to go over with the Meshify 2, so let’s jump into the action, shall we?
Front I/O Me
The front I/O panel is located on the top front, which can be a plus for those that keep their cases on the floor. Separate headphone, mic jacks, with both power and reset buttons are convenient. Of course USB is present and by today’s standards they’ve got *both* kinds: a dual port USB 3 Type-A, and a single USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C. A respectable number of useful ports there. (BTW, keep track of the number of “nice touch” elements if you like).
Fit and Finish
Metal, glass and nicely done plastics. All the gaps are uniform, the metal is reinforced in the right ways to make those panels rigid, attachment points seem robust and pretty much everything unscrews or pops apart with just the right amount of force. You know the wrong kind of force where you think you might be breaking something? This is not that. Painted surfaces have a textured feel which carries over between the metal and plastic pieces, making them seem like they belong together. Clearly this design has been well thought out.
The Panels Man
The chassis is very modular, with both sides and top easily popping off the main frame. The side panels incorporate a thumb rest area to assist pushing them away from the chassis, they essentially “hinge” at the bottom and lift out. I had a little trouble removing the tempered glass side panel initially due to the protective film – on both sides of the glass – causing the front edge to hang up in the chassis. A push from behind popped it free. Pro tip: glass does not bend very much, so resist the urge to strong-man pry it from one end only when it’s jammed. After removing the protective film, both the glass and steel sides operated smoothly when popping out and locking back in. As an aside, the case has optional screws to lock down the side panel for transport and tamper resistance. A nice touch.
Fans and Interior
Once the side panels are removed, the top tray can also be optionally removed (shown later) to fully expose the interior on 3 sides. Connecting motherboard top cables made a bit easier, thanks Fractal.
The interior is configurable to accommodate ATX/E-ATX up to 285mm wide, up to 11 3.5” total disk tray, 4 dedicated SSD brackets and even Fractal Multi-brackets to mount moar (up to 18) disks in this chassis! I spent some time reconfiguring the chassis to show how this feat is accomplished a bit later in this review.
Included with the Meshify 2 are three preinstalled Dynamic X2 GP-14 140mm fans. During use they seem reasonably quiet in normal operation, and move a suitable amount of air. They would operate down below the 1000 RPM range, and seem to top out well below 2000. Even at full song, (68CFM) they maxed out only about 3dba above room ambient at 24” away. For higher heat loads, you might want to trade the stock X2 GP-14 relative quietness for fans that reach higher RPMs and move more air.
The case has support for up to nine total 120/140mm fans.
The hinged front panel is removable, making it easy to increase airflow during long gaming or rendering sessions.
Fractal included a fan controller, and if you are not looking for it, you could miss it at first. Tilting the side of the case away from you and looking upward into the edge where the top curls over the 30mm worth of cable routing space, there’s an “Ultra-slim Nexus+ 2 fan hub with three PWM and six 3-pin connections logically placed in-line with the cable channels”. Hey, that’s a nice include.
Back Panel and PSU / Drive Basement
The expansion slot space has no bridges between the covers, which makes adding a vertical GPU bracket easy – such as the Fractal Flex B-20 PCIe riser – $45 MSRP. I had one to try out, but ended up sabotaging myself out of being able to use it – more on that later.
The PSU cable shield detaches from the back, revealing an included dual 3.5” / 2.5” drive cage with a pair of drive sleds. The drive cage is screwed to the floor of the case, and can be easily moved along slots routed in the bottom of the case to position it for better cable management from the PSU side or to the drives themselves. A Corsair RM1000x power supply easily mounted up to the removable back plate and slid into place.
The accessory kit includes plenty of vibration dampers and attachment hardware. Why yes, that is an old IDE drive. Move along.
SSDs can easily be mounted to a pair of included drive holders that slide into the back panel behind the motherboard and secure with a thumbscrew. I like the fact that the 2.5” drive sled stops short of the connectors, leaving as much room as possible for the power and data cables as sometimes that particular set of connections is … compact … depending on if you’re using “stock” cables or 3rd party.
The bottom of the case has an “Easy-to-clean high airflow nylon filter” which is removable from the front. As a point of fact, all the filters are nylon instead of foam. Check out how the feet are notched at the bottom to allow them to clear the filter slide path. Many other cases do not have such an accommodation. Nice.
After popping the top off the case by lifting the cover at the back, and sliding it off the front I/O, the top filter slides out of its retaining notches with a firm push. Easy and proper.
While the front panel is hinged now for easy access to the fans/radiator space and is your gateway to high airflow, opening the panel does not allow the filter to directly slide out. Carefully pop the front panel off the hinges though, and the nylon filter can be removed for cleaning. The pictures tell the story.
Cooled by Water
I feel like this case really caters to the AIO and custom loop crowd in various ways. Check out all the radiator options for starters. The top mounting panel is removable, to make mounting up larger rads easier to deal with. The front lower covers are split to aesthetically remove only enough “floor” to allow your front mounted rad to pass through, and Fractal supplied one of their Multi-brackets for, well, multiple uses. Mila Jovovich. The Fifth Element. Say it with me: Multi-bracket.
You can mount a drive to it as it’s positioned behind the panel, or you can remove it and attach to the pre-made holes in the larger floor plate to mount a pump. EK D5 short reservoir or tall (see photos) fits easily. Much nicer then the included EK spider frame IMO. Fractal also included a fill port on the top of the frame.
Do you need an attractive case for your Plex library or Unraid server / VM host – but I repeat myself? Should that be a system that does not look like it just fell out of a rack? The Fractal Meshify 2 would be outstanding in that role.
But first, we pause here to have our contractually obligated picture with a plant.
After getting the rear panel moved to the “front” (well, side edge really), the drive trays can be hooked into the panel, and secured with a screw. There are additional thumbscrews for retaining the back side of the tray. Note how that even in the storage layout configuration, the threads of the thumbscrews coming in from the back and hidden behind folded metal and cannot be seen from the glass side. Attention to detail, nice one again Fractal.
Fractal includes 6 total drive trays with the Meshify 2, two of which are already installed in the basement drive cage. Two packs of the HDD trays (in black or white) are set to be available for $9.99.
GPU Mounting Options
I was pleased to learn that Fractal would be including one of their Flex B-20 PCIe Riser vertical GPU mounting kits to try out with the case. I scoped out the case and made a plan for an air-cooled build, with a visually eye-catching 2070 Super Gaming X Trio stood up and visible from the glass. This did not exactly work out, unfortunately.
After getting the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 mounted on the 9900KS, I thought there would be enough room to use the vertical GPU slots and mounting holes already in the Meshify 2 case -but that’s not how the B-20 Riser is designed. I had left myself not enough room to properly use it, as the vertical riser kit was designed more to replace all the slot covers with a new bracket and ignore the existing vertical GPU location in the Meshify 2. My mistake.
After asking Fractal about this, here was their response:
With the Meshify 2, we’re trying to be as open and accommodating as possible, so we’ve left the vertical slots in the case for those who want to use a 3rd-part bracket (or our own older vertical GPU bracket) that doesn’t fit into the bridge-less expansion slot area. The Flex B-20 is designed to fit in this area, and cooling performance is significantly better, so we don’t anticipate many people buying this product and using it in what amounts to the legacy vertical mount position. Our older Flex VRC-25 product is designed to use those vertical slots…
In my defense, a short graphics card did work in the legacy position with the riser cable from the B-20 kit, like the GTX 1080 in the picture.
In the end, I went with a traditional x16 slot for the Gaming X Trio. You can certainly see there is room for much larger video cards, piping, radiators, fans and those little plastic figures that some people put in their cases. A whole diorama of space for that sort of thing, actually.
Build and Test
I found the 30mm depth of space behind the motherboard enough for cable management, and the included velcro cable stays very useful. This was not a build with too many excess components, so cables were minimal. How many shame points for that “wild” wire at the far right on the back? The velcro tie downs just couldn’t just control it. The fan controller was far more useful here then in my last Fractal build (the Node 804, reviewed here) and I would recommend using the one included with the Meshify 2 so far based on my limited testing.
In my testing, I only measured a 1-2db noise difference between having the front panel open or closed. However, I think this particular system could use even more airflow, as tipping open the TG panel allowed temps to drop about 3-4 degrees for both GPU and CPU but it was not appreciably noisier according my metering – which was 24″ from the front panel. In case it is not readily apparent via the charting, this is a high airflow case with great cooling potential and the included fans are more spec’d towards good cooling at low noise.
In hindsight, I should have used an AIO on the CPU and that would have given plenty of room for the vertical GPU mounting – for the next windowed case I review I will remember to use the Fractal vertical GPU bracket if possible.
Since I wanted to make a bit of heat, and create a good thermal load:
|PC Perspective Test Platform|
|Motherboard||MSI Z390 Gaming Edge AC|
|Processor||Intel 9900K clocked to an all core maximum of 4.8Ghz|
|Memory||Crucial Ballistix Sport (2 x 16GB) DDR4-3200 CL16|
|GPU||MSI RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio|
|Storage||Intel 660p 1tb NVME (boot)|
|Storage||Micron 5100 Pro 1tb SSDt|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|CPU Cooler||Be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4, 250w of dissipation|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit Version 1909|
Overall the case was easy to build in, with plenty of Fractal designed features to make it painless and configurable for a variety of use cases. Our dual tone review sample was appealing and difficult to capture in photographs that are true to its in-person visuals. The greys are in that anthracite / gun metal range, furthering that bit of stealth fighter like appeal, and I think I might prefer to to the all black version. I can easily recommend it from a functional or “looks” perspective, especially to users who know they want to water cool – AIO or custom. There is plenty of room to do that, and years later, maybe when you “retire” this case from show build status, you can convert it to your next home storage server. This is an excellent case that covers so many scenarios for $129, would recommend.
Purple back lighting is the new standard. Y / N (circle your choice on the screen)
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How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from Fractal Design for the purpose of this review.
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