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Fractal Design Meshify 2 Review: A High-TDP Workstations Wonder

Let your PC breathe in 2021

Fractal Design Meshify 2
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Our Verdict

Fractal Design’s Meshify 2 offers all the space and breathing room you need for modern high-end workstation builds.

For

  • Interior brilliance
  • Excellent cooling performance
  • Understated looks
  • Easy panel and dust filter removal

Against

  • Overkill for builds that don’t use watercooling or lots of storage.
  • Slightly buzzy fan motors

With the high-TDP and thermal demands of many recent and upcoming best graphics cards and best CPUs, Fractal Design has done well with the release timing of its new Meshify 2 chassis – this one is ready for the high-heat generating components of 2020 and 2021.

Indeed, the next year or so seems to be prime time for mesh-fronted cases, as these allow tons of airflow into the system, resulting in great thermals. Gone are the days where we could pack a system full of whatever parts we could get our hands on and rely on the case to dampen the noise from the internal components. Instead we now spend a little more time shopping for components that are quiet to begin with, despite their high thermal outputs.

The Meshify 2 is aimed at that kind of shopper. It’s a big boy of an enclosure that’s built to be extremely practical and versatile, offering all the room for expansion that you may need for years to come. There’s no garish RGB or wild design elements here– it’s all simple, clean, and functional above all else.

This is a chassis for grownups who just want something that gets the job done well without drawing too much attention to itself, but still offers all the necessary amenities. And for that, it certainly deserves a spot on our Best PC Cases list. At $139.99 for the variant with tempered glass, or $129 with all steel side panels, this isn’t a budget chassis. But for the performance, features, and sheer componet space you get (the max GPU length is 18.4 inches and brackets for six drives), the Meshify 2 is easy to recommend.

Specifications

TypeMid-Tower ATX
Motherboard SupportMini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX (285 mm)
Dimensions (HxWxD)18.7 x 9.45 x 21.34 inches (474 x 240 x 542mm)
Max GPU Length18.4 inches (467 mm)
CPU Cooler Height7.3 inches (185 mm)
Max PSU Length13.9 inches (353 mm)
External Bays✗ 
Internal Bays11x 3.5-inch (6 brackets included)
 4x 2.5-inch (2 brackets included)
Expansion Slots7x + 2x Vertical
Front I/O2x USB 3.0, USB-C, 3.5 mm headphone, 3.5mm mic
OtherTempered Glass Panel, Fan Controller
Front Fans2x 140 mm (Up to 3x 140mm, 3x 120mm)
Rear Fans1x 140mm (Up to 1x 140mm)
Top FansNone (Up to 4x 140mm)
Bottom FansUp to 2x 140 mm
Side Fans
RGBNo
DampingNo

Features

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Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Touring around the outside of the chassis, it’s clear that the Meshify 2 is a Fractal Design chassis. It takes it easy on the styling, offering a somewhat minimalist approach, with the most eccentric detail being the creases in the mesh.

Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The front IO resides at the top of the chassis and comprises individual headphone and mic jacks, a USB Type-C port, power and reset switches and the mandatory dual USB 3.0 ports.

Removing the panels from the Meshify 2 is easier than on most cases. On the rear you simply pull the tab outwards, which pulls the pegs at the top of the left and right side panels out from their clamps. The panels then swivel out, and can be lifted off the chassis. To put them back on, you simply place the bottom of the panel into place and push the top to close it – that’s it.

The front mesh filter comes off just as easily— pull it open using the Fractal logo as a handle. The top cover also pulls right off, revealing the dust filter underneath. We particularly appreciate how easy it is to remove the panels, as this makes it a breeze to strip the case down to its bare skeleton for easy access to all the spots you may need to get to during assembly.

Internal Layout

Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The ease of removing the panels is only a glimpse of Fractal Design’s great PC case design skills. Opened up, the Meshify 2 has a whole host of features internally that set it apart in the market, so let’s go through a few of them.

Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Starting off, the main motherboard area is good for up to an ATX-size motherboard. You can opt to install wider E-ATX boards up to 285mm in width, but these will cover the cable grommets and thus you’ll have to find a different method to route cables (switch to the storage layout).

Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Flip over to the other side, and you’ll find the cable management area. At the top you’ll spot a fan controller, which has six 3-pin voltage-control headers along with three 4-pin PWM headers. But, note that the 3-pin headers here only offer constant voltage, so you’ll want to plug the included fans into your motherboard if you want to control their speeds – this module is more of a 3-port PWM splitter.

Back here there is room for two SSDs on the back of the motherboard tray, and a plastic trim piece covers up the PSU area. Remove this piece, and you’ll spot room for two 3.5-inch hard drives and the longest of power supplies. But what about that support for up to 11 3.5-inch drives that Fractal Design is talking about?

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Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Spot that huge plastic slab that’s in front of the motherboard? If you’re building a system that doesn’t use more than four 3.5-inch drives, you can leave it where it is as you can mount a third 3.5-inch drive on the floor of the PSU area too, as well as on the back of this partition.

Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Leaving it there will offer room to mount a tube reservoir, for which mounting points are supplied on a removable cover piece to the PSU area. A separate part of this cover piece can be removed to make way for longer radiators.

Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

But, by removing just five screws, you can remove the side partition and bump it over to the left side of the chassis to switch to the storage layout. Three of these screws are accessible from the front, one from up top and one on the bottom, inside. This last one is the trickiest to get to when you move the partition over to this side, but Fractal Design cut a hole in the front panel that you can guide your screwdriver through to reach it, and the entire panel fits seamlessly into place.

Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Then, flip over to the other side, and you can install up to eight additional hard drives, though only four trays are included in the accessory box.

However, despite offering room for up to eight more hard drives for a total of up to 11 3.5-inch drives, at the front there is still room to house fans and a radiator, provided the radiator isn’t too thick.

Up to the partition, graphics cards can be 315 mm long, which is plenty for most cards. Assuming you don’t have a radiator, hard drives, or reservoir blocking access, GPUs can be up to 467mm long before bumping into the intake fans. Just note that in the storage layout (with the partition moved), GPUs can only be up to 150mm wide if you intend on pushing it into that space.

That Accessory Box Though

Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Meshify 2 comes with possibly the largest accessory box ever for a PC case. It’s unnecessarily enormous, becausemost of it is empty. Inside you’ll find the four additional HDD trays, a smaller accessory box with all the screws and bits, and a very detailed manual that covers all the case’s features and how to use them. At the time of writing this manual isn’t available online, but if you intend on building a system in this chassis that pushes it to its limits, the manual can be very helpful in planning your build to find the case’s possibilities and limitations.

The screws and bits include a ton of rubber grommets to mount the HDDs with, to ensure there is some vibration damping, and Fractal Design even goes so far to include one extra motherboard standoff to replace the central anchoring standoff, in case you want to replace it for one that you can turn a screw into. You’ll also find a screw to secure the tempered-glass side panel for when you need to transport the case without its box. And plenty of zip ties are also included.

Cooling

Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Being a mesh-fronted chassis, the Meshify 2 is all about airflow and cooling. Fractal Design includes three 140mm fans from the factory, which will be plenty for the vast majority of builds, with one at the rear exhaust and two as front intake.

You can opt to install another 140mm spinner in the front, three at the top, and two at the bottom intake (with the necessary sacrifices that may take, such as removing the hard drive cage). Alternatively, the same number of 120mm fans fit.

Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

However, radiators need a little more clearance, so you can fit up to a 120mm radiator at the rear exhaust, 420mm radiator at the top (limited to 360 in the storage layout), a 360mm radiator at the front, and a 140mm radiator at the bottom. Again, note that if you want to maximize radiator space, you’ll have to sacrifice either the biggest size at the top or the biggest size at the front intake to ensure the radiators clear each other.

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Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Fractal Design Meshify 2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Dust filters are provided at the top, front and bottom intake, though you may choose to remove the top filter if you’re exhausting here to improve radiator performance without a dust-buildup penalty.

For custom loops, a fill port mount location is provided in the top fan bracket with a 25.4mm (1-inch) diameter.

  • Makaveli
    What is the difference between the Meshify 2 vs Meshify S2?

    edit
    Think I found my answer "Meshify 2 is essentially the excellent Define 7 "

    So it just an updated Define 7 case.
    Reply
  • gman68
    EDIT: Oops. I totally swung and missed. Didn't realize this is actually a review of the Meshify 2 and not the S2. My bad.

    I have the Meshify S2 and the hard drive mounting is very different than the unit reviewed here. Viewing the models on the fractal design web site, you have either a revised version of the S2 that isn't updated on their web site, or you have a Meshify 2. The S2 that I have, and pictured on the web site does allow for 8 hard drives, It has 3 brackets for mounting drives on the backside of the case and that is all. It is a fabulous case.
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    I'm also on the Meshify S2 as you can see in my sig and love the case. The only thing i like about this is what they did on the front panel but for me I never take that off enough for it to matter to me. Front panel comes off 1 a year when I clean. All the changes made for hard drives also don't matter for me.

    And I agree on the Current Meshify S2 you can install 2 m2 drives on motherboard, 4 SSD's using the back mount and front mount then you still have the 3 mounting brackets on the backside of the case for 3 more drives so that is 9 drives total.

    I've moved bulk storage out of my Desktop PC's and have an 8 TB NAS so the days of stuffing a bunch of hard drives in my case are gone.

    This review covers some good comparisons.

    ICt_F9hMXk4View: https://youtu.be/ICt_F9hMXk4
    Reply
  • neojack
    can't go wrong with this form factor. about same class as the Lian LI LanCool 2.

    the only thing missing in this modern form factor is one 5. 1/4 slot. could be sideways. or even a slot for a laptop's sized optical drive.

    i still have a preference for the LanCool 2 because of the discreet side intakes for the GPU.
    reviewers only test the default configuration, and not with all fan slots populated.
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    neojack said:
    can't go wrong with this form factor. about same class as the Lian LI LanCool 2.

    the only thing missing in this modern form factor is one 5. 1/4 slot. could be sideways. or even a slot for a laptop's sized optical drive.

    i still have a preference for the LanCool 2 because of the discreet side intakes for the GPU.
    reviewers only test the default configuration, and not with all fan slots populated.

    Who still uses optical media in 2020 :P
    Reply
  • neojack
    people like me who borrow dvd's and bluerays at the library.
    very usefull when you have kids.

    Also lots of educational PC games for kids are on optical media.
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    neojack said:
    people like me who borrow dvd's and bluerays at the library.
    very usefull when you have kids.

    Also lots of educational PC games for kids are on optical media.

    Don't the kids just scratch and destroy the disc in time?
    Reply
  • Mr5oh
    My main gaming PC still has an optical drive. I still use it regularly actually too. I'm still surprised at how many few HTPC cases have optical drives too. All my media PCs have optical drives for playing movies.
    Reply
  • Linus-Tech_Evans
    Anyone have a link to it for amazon. How much is it?
    Reply
  • nofanneeded
    For people who are missing out great PC cases just because they want optical drive bay.

    Use external DVD/Blueray drive.

    First , it portable can be used with notebooks , all PCs you have .

    and second : it is port powered . does not even need external adapter.
    Reply