Fractal Design charted out a new path for PC cases with their Define series. They showed that cable management is not something to be left to the user. At a reasonable price, the Swedish company shipped cases that converted many PC builders into hardcore fans. As their about page touts, their cases were built on design and function.
Meshify C is an attempt to have it all. It has a mesh front meant to improve upon the airflow of the Define C. The design is much more pronounced now. The chassis is covered on one side by a dark tinted glass panel. The case retains the all-black, boxy design while branching out into angular aesthetics. It has plenty of drive bays and fan mounts for something its size. On paper, at least.
If you’re on the lookout for a mid-tower, should you opt for the Meshify C? In this review, we inspect the specs, design, benchmarks, and functions to provide a verdict. We’ll attempt to answer if Fractal delivers on its promise of ‘style meets substance.’
- Type: Mid-Tower
- Compatible motherboards: ATX, mATX, mITX
- PSU size: ATX
- Weight: 6.16 kg
- Dimensions: 395 x 212 x 440 mm (without feet); 413 x 217 x 453 mm (with feet/protrusions)
- Drive bays: 3 x 2.5″, 2 x 2.5″ or 3.5″
- Expansion slots: 7
- Front I/O: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x Audio
- Front fans: 3 x 120 mm or 2 x 140 mm (up to 360/280 mm AIO)
- Top fans: 2 x 120/140 mm (up to 240 mm AIO)
- Rear fans: 1 x 120 mm (120 mm AIO)
- Bottom fans: 1 x 120 mm
- Included fans: 2 x Dynamic X2 GP-12 (front and rear)
Design and Build – Interior
Getting rid of some thumbscrews allows access to the interior. The layout is standard and easy to understand. The motherboard mount supports up to an ATX mobo. To its side comes a Dynamic X2 GP-12 preinstalled. You could fit a 120 mm AIO here, but more convenient locations would be the top or the front. Up to two fans or a dual-fan radiator can be attached to the top panel. Likewise, up to three 120 mm fans or two 140 mm fans, or their radiator counterparts can be mounted in the front. Even a 120 mm piece can be installed at the bottom, which is a win for airflow.
The main chamber is partitioned off by the complete PSU shroud. It has some angular vents and a small removable cover. You’ll want to take this out when installing front liquid coolers. Below the covering, there is a hard drive cage, removable again. You can fit two 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives. The PSU basement has ample cable space, considering the size of the chassis.
On the backside of the motherboard tray, there is a metal piece that supports up to three 2.5″ drives. On this side is where most of your wiring will be routed. Fractal has included a channel equipped with Velcro strips, and there are quite a lot of anchors on the wall. There are grommet-covered holes on top and left of the motherboard. As with many of their cases, the Meshify C is built with cable management being a priority.
Design and Build – Exterior
At a distance, the Meshify C looks stealthy. Certain angles will reveal the polygons that make up the front panel. The whole chassis has this subtle and minimal design, a look gaining popularity in recent times.
The front panel has 45-degree edges at the top and bottom – the bottom ones are more pronounced. For the front, Fractal Design has tried to optimize both the looks and the airflow. And it works. At the bottom left is a small steel plate, proclaiming the company’s name. This panel can come off from the bottom, and although it’s not very intuitive, you can pull only the mesh cover as well. An extended dust filter also slides out from the front.
This dust filter covers the bottom, meant for the PSU fan, and the single bottom fan you can install. Four rubber feet prop up the chassis. In the rear, there lies the standard motherboard cutout, exhaust vents, expansion slots, and PSU bay. You can remove the bracket to attach it to your power supply, then fit that inside. The solid side panel is a flat sheet of metal, held by two thumbscrews.
The glass side panel covers the entire surface, again held in place by four thumbscrews. One thing to note about this tempered glass – its tint. Having a bit of tint is okay, even preferred by some. But we think the Meshify C goes a bit overboard in darkening the glass. All but the brightest LED components will be hidden. If you don’t really care about seeing your build’s insides, this may be a non-issue. But in that case, what’re you doing with a glass panel anyway?
Lastly, the top of the panel has a removable dust cover. It’s held in place by a magnetic strip around its edges. Underneath that is the top vent, and some mounting holes for your top fans. The front I/O is also situated up top. There’s a power button and a reset button as well. There are two USB 3.0 Type-A ports and a duo of audio ports. All in all, the Meshify C exudes a quiet, stylish aura from the outside.
Benchmarks and Usability
The big selling point of Meshify C, as its name implies, is the mesh. As we talked about in our best airflow cases roundup, mesh panels prove to be the best options for the front. But how well does this case perform? Let’s look at benchmarks from Tom’s Hardware.
These results immediately attest to the strength of the mesh panel. CPU temps are notably lower than the competition; 8 degrees below the Define C. The tradeoff is a noise increase. It does fare worse than the Define C, 3db more to be exact. You’ll want to keep this performance profile in mind, more so if you’re going for a hardcore rig.
It might present a few clearance problems, however. Only up to 175 mm PSUs are supported. The compact size does not allow larger ATX motherboards to fit, so you will want to verify compatibility early. Installing a front radiator also requires removing the drive cage, which might be a hassle. Its advantages, the compact size, may turn out to be a nuisance if you haven’t planned things beforehand.
So, armed with all that information, you can now make a choice. The mid-tower segment is a very competitive one. You can get value cases, like the NZXT H510, for a lower price without significant compromises. Meshify C does have an airflow advantage, but it is not exactly a performance build.
You should buy this case for its looks and functionality, however. If you can shell out the money, that is. Otherwise, look for budget options and focus on other parts of your rig. Aside from a few small nitpicks, the Fractal Design Meshify C does little wrong.
There are other options to consider. Fractal’s other cases, like the Focus G, have better airflow – yet their design may not be to your liking. Brands like be quiet! perform better at acoustics. But all in all, the Meshify C is a legendary case that steers the case comparison dialogue among PC builders.