Reviewed: Fractal Design Define Nano S

Airflow

It’s spacious – if the cables are squared away and routed neatly, the case can look almost too big inside. This is a big plus for unobstructed airflow, especially with a water cooling solution. In our test build, the front intake fed the 120mm CPU cooler and GTX 970 Gaming G1 without any issues or excessive noise penalties. With the AMD R9 Nano graphics card fitted, the amount of space was insane for a small build but with another fan fitted, the airflow would be something previously unseen in the ITX form factor.

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Water Cooling

Although we didn’t, you could install a custom loop pretty easily in this chassis due to the open design of the main chamber. All-in-one water coolers will also fit in either the roof, the front panel or the rear fan mount (up to 140mm). The only areas of caution here are the hose lengths and compatibility with some ASUS ITX motherboards that have the vertical daughter board at the top end. Mounting an internal reservoir cylinder in behind the front panel would look great and there are mounting grooves available so that you can tweak the height of the reservoir.

Drive Mounting

Most ITX boards have between 4 and 6 SATA ports so the included 4 mounting points for internal drives is appropriate. 3×2.5″ drives and 1×3.5″ drive should satisfy most people. There are 2×2.5″ mounts behind the motherboard tray which are easy to access and make upgrading later on very straight forward.

Lack of an optical drive bay isn’t much of an issue these days and I rarely use a 5.25″ optical drive except on the test bench. We have a USB DVD drive for loading drivers but almost all of the time, we download the latest drivers from the manufacturer website anyway. Loading windows from USB is also a much faster way to go. For these reasons, the lack of an optical drive bay is a non-issue.

ModuVents

Fractal Design use tool-less covers for the top vent section so if you don’t have a set of fans or a 240mm radiator installed, you can block this off to keep any fan noise inside and the dust outside. The Moduvent cover also has the sound dampening material on the inside of it.

Dust Filters

There are two dust filters, one in the front panel and one in the floor. The floor filter runs the whole length of the case and slides in through cut-out grooves in the feet of the case.

Side Window

Styling of the side panel is basically identical to the larger Define S case with a generous window to show off your build skills. The panel is clear plastic, not tinted and in our review sample the fit was tight so there was no rattling or movement. You can buy a version of the Define Nano S without a side window but our review sample was the window version

Cable Routing

This was a key strength of the Define Nano S. Anchor points, cable holes and the included Velcro straps really do help to keep builds neat but it’s also worth noting that there is space behind the motherboard panel for excess cables to be stashed. The included front panel cables are sensible lengths and the absence of a fan controller also reduced the number of cables to manage. If you are looking for a neat build, then select a modular power supply – the Fractal Design Integra-M 650W unit that we used in our test build was perfect and being only 140mm in length meant that we didn’t have any issues mounting a drive in the floor of the case either.

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