In the third part of my road to the perfect mini ITX computer case, things will get a bit weird. As you may have gathered from the title, I will not talk about a mini ITX enclosure in this blog post. Quite the opposite, in fact: the Fractal Design Meshify C is a full-sized mid-tower ATX case.
You may now wonder why I suddenly had a change of heart and ditched a big.SMALL™ case for a not-so-small big computer tower. Well, I was surrendering to big graphics cards. Or, put the other way around, I was annoyed that I had to search endlessly to find a fast and quiet, and affordable two-slot graphics card model, only to fail ultimately. But, let me not get ahead of myself and start from the beginning, the same way I did for the previous two blog posts.
As was the case with the NZXT H200, I do not have a picture of my whole desk arrangement using this chassis. I do have a nice shot of the installed hardware and, more "spectacularly" (if you want to call it that), a screenshot of a video of the RGB "goodness" that plagues modern gaming hardware (my WordPress plan does not support video, hence only a screenshot).
As you can see, I am a sucker for white cases. In total, this is the third white case I have owned, together with the NZXT H200 and S340 Elite. When I compare Fractal’s implementation of the black and white theme to what NZXT has done with their enclosures, I must say that I clearly prefer the NZXT approach.
In my opinion, an all-black interior is superior to a black motherboard tray and a white front and back, as can be seen in the Meshify C. This creates quite the conundrum on which color to choose for the fans. As you can see in the image above, I decided to use a white fan in the back and black ones in the front. In the video, I have mounted white fans at the front, and in the next picture, the rear fan is black. Overall, neither style really fits the design, and I could not decide what I liked best.
But I am getting ahead of myself again. How about I start from the outside and discuss the exterior design?
The most striking about the Meshify’s design reminded me so much of a Storm Trooper. The recessed mesh front and angular design always make me think of a Storm Trooper helmet. I cannot say why precisely because those helmets are not angular at all. The closest I can come up with is Darth Vader’s helmet, which would be more apt to be compared with the black edition of the Meshify C. Either way, this is the one particular design element that I so adore about this chassis. It is a Star Wars reference dressed as a gaming PC.
However, not everything about this case conjures up positive feelings. If I remember correctly, you will at least find three different shades of white:
- The plastic front
- The metal case panels
- The white trim around the glass window
Cleverly shot marketing pictures do not display this discrepancy, of course. Once I had the case next to me and kept looking at it several times a day, trying to figure out which color of the fans would look best, I started noticing these kinds of flaws. Then there is the issue with the choice of colors of the interior of the case. It never satisfied me, and I was honestly wondering if I should try and paint the inside panels all black. A black fan at the rear works well enough, and you can see that as a smart choice to contrast the white body.
On the other hand, it also feels a bit out of place. It matches the hardware and fits in with the black theme of the CPU cooler (now a Noctua NH-U12S) and the rest of the hardware. But when seen as a cohesive unit, the black fan on the white background stands out – negatively, in my opinion. It may also be because of the tight spacing resulting from the mini ITX mainboard that I was still using. The small size of that piece of electronics brings all components very close together at the rear of the case. An ATX motherboard might have resolved this issue with more appropriate spacing in such a mid-sized tower. But only maybe. What it would not have fixed is the front. The mounting brackets for fans are white, but whatever color fan you mount, it is out of place. A black fan will clash with the mounting bracket’s white, and a white fan will conflict with the black motherboard tray it partially covers. Whatever option I elected to go with, I wasn’t happy at all, and believe me – I tried them all.
Compatibility & Experience
I think I can keep this section short. Since the Fractal Design Meshify C is a mid-sized tower, there are almost no limits to hardware compatibility. As you can see, I even mounted the graphics card on a vertical bracket from Cablemod. That is how much space there is, especially for the mid-range components I installed.
I can also say only good things about the assembly experience. Fractal Design has added many lovely little details that make installing a computer an absolute joy. To date, this has been the best case I have built-in.
In stock configuration, this case’s cooling is not spectacular. You can significantly improve the performance by adding additional fans, though. Watch the review by Gamers Nexus for details. I have certainly gone overboard with four fans, but I wanted two intakes at the front for a cohesive look. Had I mounted only one fan, there would be a weird gap, and as much as I have talked about aesthetics, it should be evident that this is a no-go for me. But I am not wearing the looks-hat, but the performance-hat now, so I will stop with the visual aspects.
Once you add another exhaust and a single intake, the thermals improve. I have even noticed the GPU running at lower temperatures in the vertical position. I suspect that the hot air the GPU cooler would otherwise push against the side window is now immediately pulled in by the CPU and the two exhaust fans, and therefore removed much faster from the case.
Whatever hardware you are using, this case will be able to keep it cool. If you plan to install a custom water loop, you may want to get something a bit bigger for an easier installation. All-in-one liquid coolers are no issue at all, though.
Pricing & Availability
The same that was true for the Core 500 is also true for the Meshify C. General availability should be even better because it is not a niche chassis as the small shoebox is. You can buy the Fractal Design Meshify C for around 80€ in Germany at the time of writing.
Of all the cases so far, the Meshify C brought more troubles than joy. As explained earlier, the choice of colors in the interior and quality of the outside paint job did not satisfy me. This is the reason why I prefer the design of the NZXT white cases. The interior is all-black and perfectly matches standard hardware. And even if you were to go with white components, it would make for better contrast on a completely black interior than an interior that does not know whether it should be black or white.
It wasn’t all about the colors, though. It played an enormous role, but the other driving factor was the size of that thing. With all the benefits that come with an ATX enclosure, I was still longing for something compact. My hardware was not able to fill that case to an extent where it would look good. It would require a gigantic CPU cooler, like the often mentioned Noctua NH-D15, and a way bigger graphics card. At some point, my initial adoration turned into antipathy. I continued to like the Star Wars look, but that was about it. Therefore it had to go, and I looked at many options, some of them very niche and expensive products – more on that in the next piece.