Introduction

Fractal Design Define Nano S is a tower case in mini format, in the silence oriented “Define” series. Its a Mini-ITX case, and even its small size it has support for water cooling in both the front and in the top. Lets take a look at this case, and see what we think of it.

 

Quick key facts

Motherboard size Mini-ITX
Maximum graphics card size 315 mm
Maximum CPU cooler height 160 mm
Max Power Supply length 160 mm
Max Harddrives / SSDs 2 x 3.5/2.5″ positions
2 x 2.5″ positions
Included fans 1 Fractal Design Dynamic GP14 140 mm
1 Fractal Design Dynamic GP12 120 mm
Fans slots Front 2x 140/120 mm
Left side 0x
Right side 0x
Top 2x 140/120 mm
Bottom 1x 120 mm
Rear 1x 120 mm

 

Technical specifications

Colors Black
Dimensions (WxHxD): 203 x 330 x 400mm
with feet/protrusions/screws: 203 x 344 x 412mm
Net weight 4.6 kg
Case volume 26.80 litres
Max Radiator cooler Front – 120/240mm, 140/280mm (max width 147, length 312; some radiators extend beyond the screw holes)
Top – 120/240mm (max component height on motherboard 35mm. Big heatsinks on RAM or power regulators around CPU could conflict with this restriction)
Bottom – 120mm (max thickness & length: 85mm x 160mm)
Expansion Slots 2
Front interface 2 USB 3.0
Audio in/out
Power button with LED (blue)
HDD activity LED (blue)
Reset button
Fan controller None
Dustfilters Front 1x
Bottom 1x

 

Size and style

It has the proportions as a normal tower case, but its actually a nice suprise how small it is. And this is a good thing, you save space, its easier to move, and still fits maybe all the things you want inside it, since it allows for large processor coolers, large graphicscards, and large powersupplies. It looks elegant with its minimalistic design and the look of brushed metal on the front, even though its brushed plastic.

 

Fractal Design Define R4 White on the left. Fractal Design Define Nano S on the right

 

Sound dampening & sound options

On the doors are sound dampening material which helps keep down noise. On the top of the case is a ModuVent, which is a cover that can be removed if you wish to have more airflow, or keep it on and have more silence. Even though its a Define-series case, it does not have a fan controller, which was a bit surprising to see.

 

Cable management

Behind the motherboard, where you usually hide cables, is very nice cable management with quality velcro straps, and you have 17-35 mm free space to use.

 

Storage option

You can have up to 4 drives in this case. 2x 2.5″/3.5″ and 2x 2.5″ positions. Two of them are behind the motherboard and are easy to install to with a tray. The first 2.5/3.5″ position is also behind the motherboard, this one also with a tray for easy installation. The second 2.5/3.5″ position is on the bottom of the base, infront of the power supply. This second position is not recommended to use, since the cables can interfeer with the fan in front. The second position can also be used for water cooling mounting.

 

Included fans

Two included fans, Dynamic GP-12 and Dynamic GP-14, 120 mm in the back and 140 mm fan in the front. They are general purpose fans with fan design balanced between airflow and airpressure, and using hydraulic bearings to be cost-efficient. They are 3-pin fans, so no PWM available. They have 7 blades and RPM for 120 mm is 1200, and 1000 for the 140 mm version.

 

Dustfilters

When starting to examine the case, we realise that Fractal Design has the bottom dustfilter available to draw out from the front. Such a relief that this design is finally available. It used to be a hassle to use a case dust filter if you had to draw it out from the backside. This method is easy to clean which is a big thumbs up to Fractal Design.

Behind the front of the case is another dust filter which is positioned with magnets which is perfect, and also easy to remove and clean.

 

Installation

Installation is overall very easy and comfortable. If you are used to a small cube case, then this is a walk in the park. The rubber grommets are a bit stiff and could be wider, but you can fit all the cables you want from the main chamber to the backside of the base if you want. A small but smart feature is the “captive” thumbscrews, which are screws that dont fall off when you have unscrewed a scew fully. This feature is available on both side doors, and on the rear HDD/SSD bracket.

 

 

Performance and noise

Room ambient temperature 22.5 C
Processor Intel Pentium G3258
Cooler Noctua NH-L9x65
Low noise adapter (LNA) for processor cooler On
Graphicscard Asus GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II

 

Stress test (Load, Valley Benchmark)

Valley Benchmark load both processor and graphicscard.

Fans settings:
140 mm  7v (slower speed), and in lowest position in front
120 mm 5v (slower speed)

 

Processor Graphicscard
Side panels ON 51-57 C
Silent
1442-1521 RPM
68-75 C
Noisy
1620-2130 RPM
Side panels OFF 50-56 C
Silent
1421-1490 RPM
66-73 C
Noisy
1500-1950 RPM
Side panels OFF
PSU outside case
48-55 C
Silent
1371-1470 RPM
64-70 C
Quiet
1230-1590 RPM

 

The airflow for the processor is very good. The lack of harddrive cages in the front and clear interior design, makes the processor have plenty of room to breathe.

The case does not include a fan controller so fans will spin at full speed which is not recommended if you are a silence enthusiast. The case is targeted for watercooling with radiators, which usually have have PWM fans, making a fan controller maybe not needed.

 

When we put the powersupply outside the case, the fans on the “open air” type of graphicscard, doesnt need to spin up as much, and its more quiet, since they gets more air space to breath.

This shows that case has a bit too little space between the graphicscard and the powersupply for “open air” graphicscards. However for graphicscards that are watercooled, or have the default “blower” style of cooler the problem with too little space, does not happend.

Another solution can be to have a SFF power supply, where its height is smaller than a regular powersupply, and thefore giving more room air space for “open air” graphicscards to breathe.

 

 

Conclusion

Fractal Design deliver an interesting and attractive concept of smaller size, sound dampening, modern features, enthusiast features, high build quality, and good looks. If you want a small tower this case could be the perfect, high quality case you have been looking for, especially if you like water cooling. For normal air cooling, we recommend using a graphicscard with a blower design.

Pros
Small height
Small width
Light weight
High quality
Excellent water cooling possibilities
Modern features
Supports large graphicscards
Supports large processor coolers
Supports large powersupplies
Good dustfilters

 

Cons
No fan controller
Your graphicscard will be a bit hotter and more noisy if you have “open air” type of cooler on your card