When it comes down to PC cases, Fractal Design is a brand we've always appreciated here at PC Gamer. Unlike several of its competitors, Fractal has always maintained a relatively simple and concise product line. This allows the company to focus purely on revisions and improvements in its line rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with every case.
The Fractal Define S was no exception. We reviewed the first iteration of the case in 2015 and were thoroughly impressed with its liquid cooling support and affordable price tag. You probably wouldn't be able to tell from a quick glance, but the Define S2 actually features a ton of upgrades that bring the Define S line well into the modern age.
The common trend you'll notice with most Fractal cases is that the design language stays the same throughout the years. While you can find some subtle improvements to the exterior, the company focuses much more on bringing additional functionality to the table and the Define S2 does exactly that. One of the more noticeable changes is that the new case is slightly larger, bringing even more support than before.
The larger Define S2 now supports E-ATX builds up to 285mm in size. It's also a little bit wider and now features the option to mount your GPU vertically. Like most cases with this feature, the Define S2 doesn't include a GPU riser cable to do this, but you can find a third party option for relatively cheap these days on Amazon. With the added ability to show off your graphics card, the Define S2 now features a much larger and improved tempered glass window.
As much as we love seeing full tempered glass panels, they can be a real pain to open and close sometimes with multiple screws to manage. Fractal has solved this problem with a simple push to lock mechanism that only requires the use of thumbscrews to secure the panel during transit. The window panel also features a very light tint now.
Our favorite feature about the Fractal Define S was the unique ModuVent top panel cover. You could easily swap between an airflow or silence optimized case with removable fan slot covers. The Define S2 brings new improvements to the system with a single removable panel that provides more sound dampening than before. Underneath the ModuVent cover is an easy-access top panel with a dedicated fill port that makes it easy to install and manage your liquid cooling system.
The Define S2 offers everything we've come to expect in a modern mid-tower, including a full-length PSU shroud and USB 3.1 Type-C Gen. 2 connectivity. Like its predecessor, the case can pack a whole lot of cooling into a relatively compact build. Radiators up to 420mm in size can be installed on the top panel with 280mm support on the front panel. Unique to the S2 is the inclusion of a built in PWM fan hub.
With pre-drilled pump mounts and adjustable reservoir mounts, this case is clearly designed for the enthusiast crowd with custom cooling in mind. Despite this, we still found a couple of reasons we'd still recommend this case for beginner builders too. The Define S2 was very easy to build in with its spacious interior and large amount of clearance for components and cable management, something you wouldn't expect in a silence optimized case.
While it won't completely silence your system running full speed, the Define S2 makes strides towards this and hardly compromises cooling performance to do it. In addition to more sound dampening materials, the Define S2 also includes three hard drive brackets that reduce noise coming from the spinning disks. With easily removable fan filters, the case will also do a great job of keeping dust out too.
The biggest difference users will notice from the Define S2 and the Define S is probably the price tag. Available for $149.99 in White, Black, Blackout and Gunmetal, the case is priced significantly higher than its predecessor. Despite the price increase, we still find it easy to recommend this case for its premium build quality and hefty cooling capabilities.