The 10 Best Fractal Design Cases in 2021
Dec 29, 2020
While there are some great PC case manufacturers in the game today, few (if any) compare to what Fractal Design offer.
With an incredible balance between price, build quality, feature-set, and noise reduction, Fractal is one of the masters at providing the highest quality at an impressive price point in its line of minimalist towers.
Which is why today’s feature on What in Tech is breaking down the best Fractal Design PC cases for gaming, production work, and more (whatever size/budget you have in mind).
- Overall Best Fractal Design Case: Fractal Design Define R5
- Best Budget Fractal Design Case: Fractal Design Meshify C
- Best Fractal Design Case for Performance (High-End / E-ATX Pick): Fractal Design Define 7 XL
- Best Fractal Micro ATX Case: Fractal Design Define Mini C
- Best Fractal Design Mini ITX Case: Fractal Design Nano S
Best of the Rest: Quick-Fire Picks
- Best Fractal ATX Case Alternative: Fractal Design Define 7
- Best ITX Alternative / Console Shaped PC Case: Fractal Design Node 202
- Cheapest Fractal Design Case: Fractal Design Core 1100
- Best Cube PC Case / mATX Alternative: Fractal Design Node 804
- Fractal Budget ATX Case Alternative: Fractal Design Focus G
Overall Best Fractal Design Case: Fractal Design Define R5
What a wonderful chassis this is.
Ranking amongst the best PC cases of all time (not just from Fractal), the Define R5 hits the perfect sweet spot in offering what a majority of gaming/production builds will be looking for at its mid-range price.
Starting with the build quality: boasting a largely-steel (or beautifully metal-finished) exterior, the case feels as good as it looks.
With the classic minimalist tower design Fractal is known for, there is no side window.
This closed-off design works with various sound-dampening material around the R5 to create one of the best quiet PC cases of all time.
What we find so impressive about the R5 is that it doesn’t compromise in any meaningful way on cooling to achieve its incredibly low noise level; with up to:
- 9 x 140mm fans with 2 high-quality Fractal Design Dynamic GP-14 fans included
- Or up to 420mm top, 360mm side, 240mm bottom & 140mm rear radiators
The cooling capacity for the R5’s mid-tower form factor is simply fantastic, and we consider it the best Fractal ATX case for cooling and airflow.
What’s more, the case consistently outperforms many of its more open-ended rivals in terms of thermal benchmarks despite the focus on silence.
The R5 doesn’t compromise on other space availability either, with:
- 7 x expansion slots
- GPU lengths up to 310mm (which will cover most mainstream cards, but can be expanded up to 440mm with HDD cage removal)
- 8 x 3.5″ / 2.5″, 2 x 2.5″ & 2 x 5.25″ drive bays
The R5 is perfect for a powerful gaming build with great GPU space (and the aforementioned cooling ability), you have a lot of overclocking potential here.
But even if you’re looking at something more work-focused (say, video editing), you have some of the best storage capacity available in any ATX case.
The fact that the R5 nails silence on top of its other capability feels like a too-good-to-be-true bonus for its price (and also makes this one of the best PC cases for music production).
Simply put, whatever your requirements, the Define R5 is a masterpiece and easily the best Fractal computer case to cater to a majority of builds.
Best Budget Fractal Design Case: Fractal Design Meshify C
While not as cheap as some of our other budget PC case picks, we wanted our cheap Fractal case choice to still retain a lot of what makes the brand’s products so great.
And the Meshify C does just that, with some impressive quality for its price (if you are looking for something extra cheap, see our “cheapest PC case” pick further below).
Starting with the build is the high-quality finish and largely steel exterior you expect from its more expensive counterparts.
On the side is a tempered glass window and on its front, a “trippy” mesh design that provides as much additional airflow as it does style.
The Meshify C is a compact ATX case, with:
- 7 x expansion slots
- GPU lengths up to 315mm (with the front fan mounted, slightly more space could be achieved without)
- 2 x 2.5″/3.5″ & 2 x 2.5″ drive bays
- Air cooling: Up to 7 x 120mm fans with 2 x Dynamic X2 GP-12 fans included
- Water cooling: Up to 1 x 360, 1 x 240 & 1 x 120mm radiators
You still have everything here you would want in a budget gaming PC case: decent GPU room, cooling potential, and enough storage space.
Sure, the storage isn’t as plentiful as our top pick, and you can’t install quite the same level of cooling.
But the storage will only be a concern for high-capacity builds (think server pc cases or video editing builds) – there’s more than enough here for gaming.
And the cooling is still fantastic, with its mesh design making it one of the best budget PC cases with good airflow (we love that for its price you’re still getting 2 high-quality fans also).
The biggest reason we’d push you towards the Define R5 (or the other more expensive picks) is its superiority in quietness.
The Meshify is by no means bad at noise reduction.
But what makes Fractal Design cases extra special is their combination of a borderline-silent machine that retains great performance.
And that is what the R5/other choices excel at on a whole other level.
That said, rest assured: if your budget maxes out at the Meshify C, you’re still getting a lot of what makes Fractal’s towers so good and it is easily the best budget PC case they have made.
Best Fractal Design Case for Performance (High-End / E-ATX Pick): Fractal Design Define 7 XL
Now don’t get us wrong, the Define R5 and our other top picks have excellent performance potential.
But if you’re looking to build the most powerful PC possible with absolute optimum cooling for a silence-focussed design, the Define 7 XL is likely the best premium PC cases on the market to achieve this.
Industrial sound-dampened steel surrounds a lot of the case’s exterior, and while it looks similar to the other cases on the list, it’s impressive how a case of such monumental size can retain such an incredibly low decibel level.
And it really is huge. The Define 7 XL is easily our pick for the best Fractal E-ATX case option, with:
- 9 Expansion slots + 3 for vertical install options
- 359mm graphics card clearance (up to 549mm with certain modular components removed)
- Drive bays included: 8 x 2.5″ / 3.5″ (up to 18 available), 2 x 2.5″ (up to 5 available) & 2 x 5.25″
- 30mm cable routing space
- Up to 9 x 120mm fans (with 3 x Dynamic X2 GP-14 included)
- Or up to 2 x 480mm, 1 x 280mm & 1 x 140mm radiators
As you can probably see, the specs on this chassis are simply insane.
Few other competitors will provide this much utility.
Not only do you have great cooling potential and GPU space for a powerful overclocked gaming build.
But anyone looking for a server, HTPC, or video production PC case will have one of the largest storage capabilities we’ve seen at this price point (and more than we can imagine any user needing).
Tied in with excellent cable management facilities, incredible low-decibel performance, and a beautiful build, there are few cases that match how impressive the Define 7 XL is.
We know many users at a higher price-point look for something a little crazier.
But if you’re after a stylish, minimalist PC case with a price built on nothing but pure quality and performance, then this is the best choice and one of our all-time favorite cases.
Best Fractal Micro ATX Case: Fractal Design Define Mini C
The Define C is the perfect choice for those after the fantastic features that our top pick offers in a mini-tower form factor.
With the same largely steel exterior and beautiful finish, it retains the same minimalist style Fractal is best at.
Of course with its mATX case size comes less component space, but there’s plenty in here for a mini-tower build, with:
- 5 x expansion slots (usually 4 in mATX)
- 315mm GPU clearance with a front fan mounted
- 2 x 2.5″ / 3.5″ & 3 x 2.5″ drive bays
- Up to 6 x 120mm fans (with 2 x Dynamic X2 GP-12 fans included)
- Or up to 1 x 280, 1 x 240 & 1 x 140mm radiators
For its form factor, these specs are great and perfect for a Micro ATX gaming case.
In particular, we like the cooling potential here.
And with the Mini C’s decent airflow/cable management facility, you’ll get decent mileage out of an air/water cooling solution you do go with.
Then tying all that together is the fantastic sound dampening material seen throughout the case; performing comparably to its larger counterparts in noise reduction.
Simply put, the Define Mini C is the best Fractal case available today for MATX builds bar none and perfect for most compact enthusiast builds.
Best Fractal Design Mini ITX Case: Fractal Design Nano S
Finally in our top picks is something designed for those after an extra small Fractal PC case.
The Nano S isn’t just tiny, however, but another example of Fractal employing what feels like wizardry into making a silent case that is as feature-rich as its noisy competitors.
You’re still getting the fantastic sound-dampened steel and classy metallic finish on the outside of the case.
But where this case really shines is its internal specs.
For a case of such tiny dimensions, this Fractal ITX case still manages to include:
- 2 x expansion slots
- 2 x 2.5″ / 3.5″ & 2 x 2.5″ drive bays
- 315 GPU length clearance (still enough for most mainstream cards, but be careful on width, check dimensions).
- Up to 5 x 140mm + 120mm fans (with 1 x 140mm / 1 x 120mm included)
- Or up to 2 x 240mm & 2 x 120mm radiators
Yes, compared to most on our list these aren’t that impressive.
But for an ITX case? Wow!
There is so much capability here for great cooling, powerful GPU installation, and decent storage (many ITX cases only include 1-2 2.5″ drive bays).
Alongside a decent ITX motherboard, this would be perfect for a portable PC case (for gaming/LAN parties or even a travel HTPC).
The possibilities with the Nano S are very impressive.
Anybody building an mITX build will know they’re not going to get quite the same performance as a larger build.
But we have to say, if your heart is set on the form factor, you can still have a powerful, quiet machine in the Nano S.
Not only is it the best Fractal PC case for mITX builds, but one of the best from any brand on the market today.
Quick-Fire Alternatives – Best of the Rest
While the top picks are our favorites, we’ve included a few other options for the minority of readers who may have very specific requirements.
Best Fractal ATX Case Alternative: Fractal Design Define 7
The Define 7 is a wonderful case and 2 iterations up from the R5.
While we love this chassis, we think the R5 strikes a better balance price-wise; and those with less price concern would largely be better off with the 7 XL.
But if this case fits your spec needs better, know it is very much in the same realm of fantastic quality.
Cheapest Fractal Design Case: Fractal Design Core 1100
The Core 1100 is a very impressive offering for its price point and would be a great choice for a very cheap budget PC.
The reason we don’t rate it highly is because it doesn’t have quite the level of quality, features, and noise-dampening we love from Fractal.
But if your budget is very tight, it is a fantastic choice.
Fractal Budget ATX Case Alternative: Fractal Design Focus G
One of the most popular Fractal cases, you may have expected this to rank more highly.
While the Focus G isn’t a bad case, we think it loses out in quality to its more minimalist counterparts.
What’s more, be aware the case seems to have some quality control problems (likely due to the very low price point for its feature set).
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