Fractal Design Define XL Case Review
We 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.
Looks like a great choice for
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.