Fractal Design Define XL Case Review

Oct 03 2011

Fractal Desigh Define XLWe recently reviewed and are now giving away the Fractal Design Core 3000, one of Fractal Design's larger cases. We tried it out as a home server case and found a lot to like about it. However, their top end case is the Define XL. With internal space for 10 hard drives and 4 5.25" bays just begging to be outfitted with a backplane hard drive cage, a look reminiscent of my beloved Antec Mini P180, and potential support of front-mounted USB 3.0 ports, this could be a monster home server case. Now if Fractal Design could come out with a variation of the define XL that would provide external hot-swap access to 10 or more hard drives, I think I would have my dream chassis. 

The question is what do you get for that $160? To start with, if you are looking for a non-rackmounted case with maximum expansion options that can hold a *LOT* of hard drives for a Windows Home Server, you may find a few cases that can hold more than the XL, but not many.

We Got Served

Comments

Looks like a great choice for a server.  I particularly like the way you can orient the upper hard drive rack so it faces the same direction as the lower bays.  It's so much easier when you can slide a drive out of a bay with a quick-release sled instead of removing hardware.  It's also nice when you can make the power and signal connections right in front of you.  Throw in a 5-in-3 SATA backplane and a 5-1/4" to 3-1/2" drive adapter and you've got a perfect solution for a 16 drive unRAID setup without breaking the bank.

I've been using an Antec Nine Hundred case with three Supermicro SATA backplanes for my unRAID server.  The basic case cost me a lot less than the XL (I got it on sale with a rebate for a final cost of only $40), but the addition of three backplanes quickly escalated the cost.  OTOH, I like having the backplanes because they stagger startup times for each drive when the system boots up, creating less of a load on the PSU.  These are the same backplanes that Lime Technology uses in their turnkey unRAID servers.

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