Fractal Design Compacts the Meshify 2
Look what they have gotten us into
My personal experiences with Fractal Design cases has been rather good to date, with several test type builds and a few personal builds already in my past. So I was looking forward to seeing how the ‘C’, or Compact version of their Meshify 2 would work out.
We reviewed the previous freshly updated Meshify 2 a short time ago, and you can catch up on that here.
When comparing the two cases side by side, it’s certainly obvious they are closely related, in a big / little sibling sort of way.
Fractal describes this enclosure as a direct successor to their Meshify C from 2016 with obvious updates. The corner bolts holding on the side panels are gone, the top is fully removable now and the interior has been opened up for larger GPUs – something we will put to the test. Let’s get into it.
Meshify 2 Compacted
Take a moment and dimensionally compare the new Meshify 2 Compact with its bigger sibling, the Meshify 2. Above you can see they do not appear to be so different, but in the pictures immediately below and to the right, you can see that that Meshify 2 Compact deserves the name. The Compact is significantly more desk space friendly if you’re someone that likes the Fractal design but the Meshify 2 loomed too large for your space.
- Model Name: Meshify 2 Compact
- Model Variants:
- As Tested Model: Meshify 2 Compact TG Dark Tint
- Black with Solid Panels
- Black with Tempered Glass Light Tint Panel
- Grey with Tempered Glass Light Tint Panel
- White with Tempered Glass Clear Panel (availability late Q2 2021)
- Motherboard compatibility: ATX (max 285 mm) , ATX, mATX, Mini-ITX
- Expansion Slots: 7 (bridgeless)
- Case Dimensions (LxWxH): 427 x 210 x 474 mm
- Case Dimensions w/o feet/protrusions/screws (LxWxH): 415 x 210 x 451 mm
- Net weight: Solid Panel: 7.7 kg / TG Panel: 8.1 kg
- TG side panel construction: Bolt-free, steel-reinforced TG with tool-less top latching
- CPU cooler max height: 169 mm
- GPU max length:
- Total: 360 mm total
- With Front Fans: 341 mm
- PSU max length: 165 mm (with HDD cage and front fan)
- PSU shroud: Full-length ventilated steel with two-part removable inlay
- 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
- Dedicated 2.5″ mounts: 2 trays included, 4 positions total
- 3.5″/2.5″ drive mounts: 2 included, 4 max via optional Multibrackets
- Total fan mounts: 7x 120 or 4x 140 mm + 2x 120 mm
- Front fan: 3x 120 or 2x 140 mm (2x Dynamic X2 GP-14 included)
- Top fan: 2x 120/140 mm
- Rear fan: 1x 120 mm (1x Dynamic X2 GP-12 included)
- Bottom fan: 1x 120 mm (requires removal of HDD cage)
- Dust filters:
- Top fans (nylon, removable)
- Front fans (nylon, removable)
- Bottom fan + PSU (nylon, removable)
- Front radiator: Up to 360/280 mm (max 145 mm width)
- Top radiator: Up to 240 mm (max 40 mm motherboard component height)
- Rear radiator: 120 mm
- Bottom radiator: 120 mm (requires removal of HDD cage)
- Cable routing space (at back): 17-28 mm
- Tool-less push-to-lock: Top front and side panels
- Left side panel: Steel or tempered glass
- Right side panel: Steel
$109.99 USD list (For all panel and color versions)
“The Meshify 2 Compact is a performance-oriented ATX case that focuses on flexibility and space efficiency to maximize component and cooling support in a minimal space with bold sense of style. As a direct successor to the still highly successful Meshify C that first established the series in 2016, the Meshify 2 Compact boasts one of the most extensive lists of design improvements and upgrades to be seen in a single iteration.”
Factory Clean Meshify 2 C
In case I have not already mentioned it, Fractal is one of my favorite PC enclosure makers lately, as they combine an appealing style with usability and what seems to me to be high quality construction. As an example, the new seamless TG panel has a secure attachment to the chassis, which inspires confidence that the glass will not easily fall away and be damaged. The final pic in the gallery below is an exploded parts view, which might be useful for the inquisitive mind. That’s why you’re here, right?
That Fractal Design Look
The now iconic angular look appears in many places and you either dig the stealth fighter impression or not because there’s no getting away from it. Personally I am a fan, as it is interesting and well executed.
Top mounted I/O panels do clean up the front, but are a bit less functional overall due to the possibility of draping wiring. Fine for a temporary connection though IMO. The Meshify 2 C does have what seems to be the quality case minimum now, with a single 10Gbe capable USB Type-C Gen 2, 2 USB 3.0, separate headphone and microphone jacks, plus power and reset buttons.
Filters and Panels
The smooth mesh covers have supports within them that exactly line up – “mesh” as it were – with the filters behind them. This improves airflow through them, as well as shows off Fractal’s attention to details. The dust filters themselves are of good quality, and well supported with that literal fractal pattern. The inclusion of these nylon filters on all the possible air intake areas is welcome.
The front swings open on plastic hinges again, but not quite far enough to remove the front filter – so close. Finding a way to make that happen would be ideal. The bottom filter is easily removable however and slides out towards the front of the case for cleaning.
One nice thing is that all of the case plastics pull off the metal frame beneath, aiding assembly of the PC parts. The front frame is a bit stubborn, but pull on each corner firmly. When reattaching this front frame, be sure to line up the round pegs to the metal holes. These are of a pinched plastic design that could fatigue over time so be careful and don’t just try and *pop* it into place.
Also hidden behind the top front panel, just beneath the I/O area is a white lit LED bar indicating power, but is is not over bearing as you can see below in a pic near the conclusion section.
Your foliage assisted moment of zen has arrived.
Cooling Options, Fans Included
After removing the top panel, and sliding the nylon mesh holder back and away, the top frame is revealed. Which thankfully is removable, a feature that I think makes attaching top mounted radiators significantly easier. Interesting that it lacks a fill port like its bigger sibling though.
The top mount area supports radiators of up to 240mm in size, while the front can take up to a 280 or 360mm – with the removal of a front floor plate. In fact, there are two removable front floor plates to accommodate deep radiators or push / pull combinations. Removal of the floor plates for long radiators would require moving or removing the PSU basement drive cage.
The Fractal Meshify 2 Compact includes a total of three Fractal branded fans, which seems adequate for a case of this size and pricing. There are two front intake 140mm GP-14’s, maxing out at 1000 rpms and 68.4 CFM and a 120mm exhaust at 1200 rpms and 52.3 CFM. Sound levels for both are listed at or below around 19dBA, and in actual use, quite quiet. Perhaps their notched blade edges help, as Fractal claims that reduces fan hum? Check that fan close up above: very notch-y.
Meanwhile, in the Basement
If you would like to mount a 3.5” drive, the mounting bracket in the PSU basement is where to do that. The main cage is relocatable to a degree using slots cut into the bottom of the case, and after removing four screws, you can simply remove the cage. Wait, no you can’t. In order to remove the cage you can pop the plastic floor plates off near the front, or squeeze it through the back where the PSU goes. So make that decision early before something else gets in the way. And read the (very) fine manual, I mean there are even pictures which explains this.
Actual note though: there’s very little room for wiring coming out of your PSU if you do not remove it.
A Few Fractal Details
Did I mention the Sweden based Fractal Design seems to really get how to make their cases functional and also style them well? For example, the feet are notched out so that the bottom filter slides through them instead of have to clip in around them. That makes it possible to fit a fuller sized filter, in turn, opening up the more of the bottom for improved ventilation.
With the drive cage installed, there is not a lot of room for tucking away excessive wiring or having an extra long power supply as there’s only 165mm available.
The slide out drive sleds taken from the lower cage, as well as the rear PSU mounting plate have captured thumbscrews, thanks for that Fractal. It’s the little things that matter … and then taking extreme close up pictures of them. The decision to include the separable PSU mounting plate is also welcome. It makes installation nicer, and I consider it a contributing factor towards the perception of a quality case.
I like to see when a manufacture really commits to their design decisions and carries them throughout, while not impacting functionality. The floor plates, the back panels, the filters, the PCIe covers, the vents – all carry that Fractal design language.
Rear Panel, Cabling & Accessories
The Fractal Design Meshify 2 Compact give you the space and features to do cable management as properly as you would like. The rear space is not extreme in depth, but it is adequate. There are wire guides near the front, but I did not find them particular useful, as most of what I had to add were larger PSU cables. The front panel I/O lines come neatly arranged though, and I left them in place. There are tie downs in useful places for the included zip ties and two included 2.5” drive mounting plates tucked in there – which also have captive mounting screws of course.
There is room for an additional two 2.5″ drives by using optional SSD brackets, available from Fractal as a 2 pack for $9.99.
The accessories seemed complete, but unfortunately unlabeled. I would like to suggest labeling the packages with a look up key available in the manual as an improvement perhaps, as their is already 1/2 of that printed as a nice picture of the different hardware. And they included the PSU screws.
The main motherboard pass-throughs are on an angle facing towards the main board, which if you have right angle cabling adapters, might make attaching them slightly easier. They look promising anyway. For me in practice however, it made things a bit more difficult due to the nature of my cables, and how close and narrow the pass throughs were to the board – more on that later.
The top pass-throughs above the motherboard were well placed, and extremely helpful. The back right side edge included wire mounting “Fractal” loops would have been useful if I had longer PSU cabling for the 8 pin 12v EPS lines, but think about where they exit from the rear of the PSU, and having the travel backwards to pickup that routing location is not likely.
The included manual is what I have come to view as typical of Fractal Design now: high quality, well captioned and colored diagrams and illustrations, details on optional build configurations, warnings and helpful hints. I recommend you read it, or just look at the pictures if you’re that kind of person. Also, I am going to try the Fractal vertical GPU bracket with PCIe extension as I did not get to use it on the previous Meshify 2 build.
The build today will be based on an AMD Ryzen 3700x this time around, in an Asrock B550 Taichi ATX motherboard with everyones favorite 16GB of Trident Z Gold Royals in 3600 CL 16. As I stated, this also seemed like the right time to try the Fractal Flex B-20 Vertical Riser Bracket again, as the Meshify 2 Compact has no bridges between the PCIe rear slots.
Cooling the CPU will be a Fractal Celsuis+ S24 Dynamic, as that seemed sufficient for the AMD 3700x and quite appropriate for this case. The selected GPU is an MSI 2070 Super Gaming X Trio, chosen for its challenging size to see how well it would work in this case both physically and thermally. Plus I think it will look impressive in a vertical mount. I’m probably not wrong.
Ram & CPU cooling
The 240mm AIO fits easily in the roof, with plenty of back to front adjustment range as you can see by the slotted mounts. Having the radiator mount removable was instrumental in completing this build actually, because I needed to carefully route the tubing behind the vertically oriented GPU.
Those Trident Z Royals sure are shiny. They are also the fastest Ryzen suitable kit I have at 3600Mhz. Also note that Fractal includes the very same fans with the Meshify 2 C, the 120mm Dynamic X2 GP-12’s, as with their 240mm AIO. They use the standard AMD 2 point clip style mounting, which will haunt me later. This was not a fun and easy AIO pump install, as I could not push down hard enough on the mounting ring to connect the adjustable side clip. I ended up setting the clip then feeding the threaded end into the bracket from below and this resulted in a very poor mounting when one of us – ok it was probably me – did not tighten that down nearly enough. Embarrassing pictures below.
I do like the Fractal fan hub built into the radiator frame. For one thing it makes wiring easier, and neater. For fan speed control, the pump housing outer ring turns to select PWM pass-through or Auto. For testing purposes, I will be using PWM mode.
Mostly Good Experience
This Asrock B550 uses two EPS 12v inputs so it was great that the case had plenty of room above the motherboard in the corner to route cables through and tuck them away. Also scoring points in my book was the tiny pass through hole in the corner which allowed the rear exhaust fan cable to sneak through, move along the back side, and come out through the second grommet to connect with a top MB fan header. Who thought of that? Oh, it’s you again Fractal.
While the angled pass throughs for the side motherboard mounts seem like a good idea, I think it would have worked out better with more flexible cabling. The existing Corsair Type 4 stock wiring has an inflexible wrap near the end, which makes that up and over turn difficult. The wiring basically needs to pass straight out in order to curl over and connect, so the angled case internals and grommets did more harm then good for me. With proper 90° angle adapters though, things might have been different. Yes, I know there was a USB 3 right angle on the board, it does not fix the issue at hand.
Otherwise, the basic components were mounted up quickly and the leads from the case fans and top I/O had reasonable length to reach headers and still be routed away from view.
Vertical GPU mount & PCie 3.0 Riser
Here’s an interesting bit of extra Fractal equipment, the B-20 Flex PCIe 3.0 Vertical GPU mount and riser. This is designed to only work on 7 PCIe slot cases which have no dividers between them. It’s expensive, but it does seem to work as described and not all of these kinds of things do. I will hazard a guess that the shielded cabling and connectors are the cost drivers for this item. I know it has been a “hot” topic lately, with risers getting a bit sparky, so I wanted to throw in a couple of pictures on how this unit looked and worked. Note the fully copper clad shielded mounting holes, with plenty of internal clearance to not scrape the hardware. Very Nice.
This particular vertical GPU mounting method does not crowd the glass, and during testing, seemed to provide for very good cooling.
Fully assembled and ready to test now, right? Gorgeous in purple I think.
No go on the testing
Initially the machine would turn on but not post, with a memory error. Really, does no one like the Royals?! Re-seating the A1 DIMM fixed that. After getting everything installed, and running a few tests, which included Cinebench R20 and R23, I discovered the machine would quit and reboot. I thought I might just have too much voltage and a sad chip, so I used Ryzen ClockTuner 2.0 RC3 to see what was going on. Looks like it deemed that I had a poor 3700x, a “Bronze” sample it said. Sad. I allowed it to de-tuned my configuration in hopes of making the best of it.
On a hunch, I pulled the AIO pump off the CPU. Oh. One of us here did something wrong again. And it was probably me, again. Obviously I failed to fully tighten the adjustable mounting side on the stock 2 point AMD attachment. I redid everything and turned that down until I could here the silicon squeal. “That should do it.” And it did.
Ryzen seems like more work, maybe it’s just me?
ClockTuner Round 2
After repasting the CPU, I gave Ryzen ClockTuner another shot at it. The final results were 1.20v and 4.25Ghz all core – a Silver sample now according to CT. Check your paste and mounting pressure Ryzen people. Cinebench R23 now scores 12,755, which is much better then a sudden snap power off. Timespy has it closing up against the 10700k or 9900k systems, not bad for a “silver” chip. Welcome to the darker side – I mean the picture here, it’s darker.
Build Specs and Testing
|PC Perspective Test Platform|
|Motherboard||Asrock B550 Taichi|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 3700x clocked to an all core maximum of 4.25Ghz @ 1.2v via ClockTuner|
|Memory||Trident Z Royal Gold (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3600 CL16|
|GPU||MSI RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio – Afterburner set to +100 core, +500 memory|
|Storage||Samsung 960 Pro|
|Storage||Micron 5100 Pro 1tb SSD|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|CPU Cooler||Fractal Designs Celsius+ S24 240mm AIO|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit Version 20H2|
The room ambient temperature was taken three times during the testing process and dropped from 21.6°C to 21.1°C during the time period.
The case fans were at about 80% of maximum, while the AIO fans did spin up to their maximum during heavy CPU loads. The case noise was rather minimal overall, even though all the tests were run with both the GPU and CPU overclocked to a modest extent.
CPU-Z was used to warm up the system from idle and was charted. An overall “Motherboard” sensor was added to the mix.
There are many similarities between the Meshify 2 Compact and it’s larger Meshify 2 sibling. If the style suits you, and your budget and / or desk space do not warrant the larger version, it would be hard to get it wrong with this ‘C’ variant Meshify 2. I think Fractal has a real winner here, but there are a lot of cases to choose from in the $110 range.
There are definite and extensive improvements over the previous and popular Meshify C including the hinged and removable front door, removable nylon filters, improved I/O panel that stays with the chassis, smooth faced TG panel attachments, way better removable top, optional lower radiator, and more space for a longer GPU all housed in a more modular chassis. Changes also include the wire guides on the back, and slightly less room for a PSU with the basement drive cage in place.
In short, if you liked the look of the Fractal Meshify C, this new Compact has more of what you like and is functionally better in just about every way possible.
The larger Meshify 2 is a favorite of mine, but I was not sure I could make full use of all of its features and size. The Meshify 2 Compact has pretty much all of that in a chassis that would not make a modest build look a bit lost within it. I found that the temperatures and noise were both well controlled during testing of the new Meshify 2 C. My opinion on that is the somewhat modest thermal load presented by the AMD 3700x with the vertical GPU mounting in conjunction with decent airflow made this all operate very well. I would consider buying this case for myself or someone I was helping to build a system.
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