XPG Defender Pro Mid-Tower Case Review


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The XPG Defender Pro is a Mid-Tower chassis that offers enthusiast-grade performance with exceptional airflow and functionality. Designed to accommodate E-ATX motherboards, large graphics cards, custom water cooling, and plenty of RGB lighting, the Defender Pro is a gamer’s dream chassis. Positioned between XPG’s flagship chassis, the Battlecruiser, and its first offering, the Invader, the Defender Pro, provides all the premium features with a reasonable price tag.

Features and Specifications

Designed around an E-ATX platform, the Defender Pro provides spacious room for any build, including large GPUs. Many cases on the market require you to remove HDD caddies to support long graphics cards, but not the Defender Pro. It can house up to 14.96-inches (380 mm) cards without sacrificing any storage space.

Thermal efficiency is a key necessity with every chassis; XPG manages this by implementing a full front mesh panel and includes three 120 mm XPG Vento ARGB fans. The magnetically secured front panel is easily removable, providing quick access to the front filter for cleaning.

The Defender Pro comes with plenty of lighting – in addition to the trio of ARGB fans, there is a pair of light strips at the front of the chassis. To control all the lighting, XPG has included its PRIME ARGB Combo controller.

Storage capability comes by way of a 2+2 approach. There are two 2.5″ drive locations mounted behind the motherboard and a dual 3.5″/2.5″ HDD caddy positioned under the PSU shroud.

 

These are the specifications for the Defender Pro, per the XPG website.

XPG Defender Pro Specifications
Product Name Defender Pro
Available Color Black or White
Material  SPCC
Side Panel  3 mm Tempered Glass Side Panel
Dimensions (LxWxH) 492 x 220 x 441 mm (19.37 x 8.66 x 17.36 inch)
Motherboard Support Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX, CEB, EEB
Expansion Slots 7 + 2 (Support vertical graphics card installation)
Drive Bays External: None
Internal: 2+2 (2x 2.5″ & 2x 2.5″/3.5″ Combo)
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0 (USB 3.2 Gen1 Type A)
Hybrid Audio Port
LED Control Button
Power Button
Pre-installed Fan(s) Front: 2 x XPG VENTO ARGB 120 mm Fan
Rear: 1 x XPG VENTO ARGB 120 mm Fan
Fan Support Top: 3x 120 mm or 2x 140 mm
Front: 3x 120 mm or 2x 140 mm
Rear: 120 mm
Liquid Cooling Support Top: 280 mm or 240 mm
Front: 360 mm, 280 mm, or 240 mm
Rear: 120 mm
Clearances CPU Cooler: 170 mm (180 mm as measured by this review)
GPU: 380 mm (up to 400 mm per this review)
PSU: 220 mm
Warranty 2 Years
Price Amazon $99.99

 

We have also included a list of features sourced from the XPG website for the case.

XPG Defender Pro Features
XPG DEFENDER PRO offers full-size E-ATX dimension with MESH front panel design and ARGB Strips lighting effects. Available in black and white colors with x3 included XPG VENTO 120 ARGB fans.
XPG DEFENDER PRO is a full size E-ATX dimension chassis, premium for its spacious layout design and its MESH gaming front panel data-api with the ARGB Strips lighting subtly shine behind the MESH panel.
XPG DEFENDER PRO Mid-Tower Chassis is available in both black and white colors. Its MESH Geometric fine cut design is both aesthetically elegant and aerodynamically efficient in enhancing airflow intake.
Magnetic front panel acts as a frontier dust filter, preventing and protecting any other internal components. Its removable dust filter further blocks out unwanted dust and ashes.
XPG DEFENDER PRO’s efficient airflow design begins with the MESH front panel, its x3 XPG VENTO 120 ARGB included fans, and supports up 360mm Radiator (front) and 280mm Radiator (top).
PSU is also cooled with a perforated PSU chamber with a removable dust filter.
XPG DEFENDER PRO supports vertical VGA installation. Exhibit graphic card and other components with lighting effects.
Supports up to x2 2.5” HDD/SSD at the back of the chassis, and x2 2.5”/3.5” Combo Drive at storage bays.

XPG DEFENDER PRO supports E-ATX motherboards with dimensions (H x W x D) of 492 x 220 x 441(mm).

Graphic Card Length Support:up to 380 mm
CPU Cooler Height Support:up to 17 0mm
PSU Length Support:up to 220 mm

Packaging

XPG ships all of its cases in traditional brown cardboard boxes. It is thick, double-wall corrugated cardboard that protects the contents well and the printing is done in a simple black. The front has an isometric image of the Defender Pro and a few features and the model name. At the back is a descriptive exploded view that displays additional features. The left side declares if the chassis is the black or white version along with the overall dimensions. There is also a model and serial number sticker attached here. The right side shows a large table of the specifications listed earlier in this review. Once opened, we find the Defender Pro safely sandwiched between two Styrofoam end caps and a clear plastic bag.

Contents

When opening the shipping box, we discovered a user’s manual along with a sheet of stickers loosely placed inside. The accessories box is located inside the chassis, in one of the two HDD trays. It is plain, thin cardboard that simply keeps the included hardware together. The contents include six small zip ties, four separate baggies of screws, and a pair of extra-long motherboard stand-offs. It wasn’t until I read the user’s manual that I learned these stand-offs are for mounting a PCIe adapter to the PSU shroud when mounting a GPU vertically. Most case manufacturers do not include these, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Exterior At A Glance

The Defender Pro measures 220 mm x 492 mm x 441 mm with seven horizontal PCIe slots and two vertical slots. This places it directly in the mid-tower target range. The frame and removable panels are constructed from SPCC steel, the only exception being the tempered glass left side panel. It is painted satin black, which serves well to prevent unsightly fingerprints. Plastic is used sparingly in areas that are typical of the industry standard

The overall aesthetics are clean and the lattice front panel provides a fresh look compared to other cases in its category. The quality of the build is as good as its competitors or better. The panels fit together well and the chassis is very sturdy without feeling too heavy.

Connectivity is handled at the front of the top panel. A triangular-shaped power button is positioned to the far right and illuminates when powered on.  Next to the power button is a small LED controller button. This drives the XPG Prime controller and cycles between fourteen different lighting configurations. At the center of the case is the hybrid headphone/microphone combo port. Left of center is a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 type-A ports. These are still labeled with the old standard format of USB 3.0.

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A Closer Look

The Defender Pro appears to be a quality case with some unique looks. Let’s break it down and get into the details before we work on installing any builds.

Left

The left side panel is removed via a pair of thumbscrews with the two retention pieces at the bottom allowing the glass to tilt against it before removing completely. Here we get a good view of the main compartment. The motherboard tray features a massive opening for attaching a CPU cooler. In fact, it’s large enough that it could even be used to pass cables through in an m-ITX build. There are grommets on the four main cable routing holes and one located at the center of the PSU shroud. XPG pre-installed standoffs for an ATX motherboard, but there are accommodations for up to an E-ATX board.

Left Side

Left Panel Removed

Looking to the rear, we find the lone exhaust fan as well as a total of nine PCIe slots secured using thumbscrews. The top of the case features mounting slots for up to two 120 mm, two 140 mm fans, or a dual-fan radiator (top filter removed in the image for clarity). These slots are offset towards the left to provide as much clearance to the internal components as possible.

At the front of the main compartment are the two intake fans. Like most cases these days, there is no option for an optical drive. This has quickly become the industry standard as many users do not use one. The large PSU shroud takes up the bottom of the chassis. There are three cable routing holes strategically located as well as an opening to allow for a front radiator or third intake fan. If you look closely, you will see a pair of tapped holes above the PSU display opening. XPG was kind enough to include tall standoffs for physically attaching a vertical GPU bridge. This is a very welcomed feature and stabilizes wobbly vertical GPUs.

Left Rear

Left Top

Left Front

Left Bottom

Front

The front panel is attached with six magnets and removal is simple and easy. Behind the lattice pattern, coarse mesh and a plastic insert will act as the initial dust filter. This assembly looks like a nightmare to keep clean as dust will eventually build up in this panel. Fortunately, there is a fine mesh filter between this front panel and the intake fans. This filter style does a phenomenal job at keeping dust out of the chassis, but the front panel will definitely be a challenge to keep clean. The full mesh front will undoubtedly provide ample airflow for the internal components, however.

Front

Front Panel Close

Front Panel Removed

Front Filter Close

Right

The right side panel is retained by a pair of thumbscrews, just like the left panel. With it removed, we can see the back of the motherboard tray. Between the four large grommet holes is where the bulk of the cables get routed. In total, there are 21 cable tie points and each is located intelligently. Below the CPU Cooler cut-out are a pair of SSD mounts. These are not tool-less or removable but do function well enough. The right side of the mount features small pins that fit in the SSD mounting holes. The left side has holes for the screw to attach to the drive.

Below the PSU shroud and to the left is an adjustable HDD/SSD caddy. This can be repositioned in 20 mm increments allows for larger power supplies or additional room for a front-mounted radiator. The caddy houses either two 3.5″ hard drives or two 2.5″ solid-state drives. This makes for a total of four SATA drives in addition to any M.2 drives you might mount directly on the motherboard. Finally, at the right of the bottom is the PSU mounting bay. The Defender Pro features four rubber pads to reduce vibrational noise. There is also a bottom intake filter to keep your power supply clean.

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Top

Laying the chassis on its right side, we get a good look at the top of the case. It is almost completely ventilated and has a coarse-type filter should one decide to utilize the top as intake. Naturally, the filter is held in place with magnetic strips. Removing the filter, we see the fastening slots for attaching a maximum of two 120 mm fans or 140 mm fans. The positioning of these slots is offset to the left allowing for clearance to the internal components.

At the front is where the I/O ports are located. As mentioned previously, there are two USB 3.2 Gen 1 USB ports, a hybrid headphone/microphone jack, a LED controller button, and an illuminated power button. It would be nice to see more manufacturers adopting the much faster USB 3.2 Gen 2 and Gen 2+2; unfortunately, many are still sticking with the Gen 1 USB 3.2.

Top View

Top Filter Removed

Top Filter Close

I/O Panel

Bottom

Rotating 180° gives us a clear view of the bottom of the case. As you can see, a fine-mesh filter runs half the chassis’s length to provide clean air for the power supply. Gently pulling it back allows it to slide out of the way for easy cleaning. The front half is where the HDD/SDD combo caddy is secured with four screws. Here you can also see the additional mounting holes for its adjustment locations. There are four slots located here as well. It’s unclear what these were intended for but could be for mounting a water pump or other accessories. Finally, the four rectangular feet are fitted with large full-cover rubber pads. The Defender Pro does not move around unless you intend it to.

Bottom View

Bottom Filter Removed

Bottom Filter Close

Bottom Front Close

Rear

The rear of the case is fairly standard. The 120 mm rear exhaust fan mounting allows for slight adjustability but does not accommodate 140 mm fans. The seven horizontal expansion slots are standard for mid-tower chassis, but with the Defender Pro, you receive a bonus dual-slot vertical location, and all of the expansion slot covers are perforated to aid in ventilation. At the very bottom is the PSU bay. Any standard ATX power supply is installed through the right side and there is an option to invert the power supply should you choose to.

Rear View

Rear Top Close

Rear Bottom Close

Fans

Included are three 120 mm Vento ARGB 3 pin fans. Featuring nine blades, the Vento is said to produce 45.3 CFM at only 23 dBA. Built around a rifle bearing, they are designed to last about 60,000 hours and rated at 1200 RPM. Using HWMonitor, we have confirmed their rated speeds. This version is voltage controlled via a motherboard’s 3-pin fan header and pulls a maximum of 0.16 amps. Connected to the 3-pin connector is a 2-pin daisy chain for connecting additional fans. Nine LEDs surround the hub providing a perfect amount of color and light. Power to the LED’s is provided by a 3-pin ARGB 5v connector that can also be daisy-chained.

Fans Close

 

XPG Vento ARGB 120mm Fan
Speed 1200 RPM
Air Flow 45.3 CFM
Bearing Type Rifle
LED Type  ARGB
LED Quantity 9
LED Voltage DC 5v (3-pin)
Warranty 2 Years

 

Storage

For data management, XPG equipped the Defender Pro with a pair of combination HDD/SSD sleds. Each of these trays is capable of mounting either a 3.5″ HDD or a 2.5″ SSD. The HDD is secured without tools and simply uses flexible mounting pins that fit into the drive’s side mounting holes. Attaching an SSD onto the sled does require several screws that are conveniently provided with the accessories box. These sleds easily slide into an adjustable HDD caddy. While it is adjustable, it is not removable without severely bending the metal sides.

Also, this is the one area where there seemed to be a slight lack of quality control. While attempting to adjust the caddy to the forward most position, it was determined that the mounting holes do not line up. However, this issue was possibly due to some of the screws becoming cross-threaded or simply needed to be left out – which in all honesty, is not an issue as the caddy doesn’t require five screws to hold securely.

Behind the motherboard tray, there are also two locations to attach two more 2.5″ drives. These mounting points use two pins on the right side of the drive and a pair of screws on the left side. This is a somewhat unique and inexpensive approach. While these are not as convenient as removable trays, they are functional, though utilizing a thumbscrew or two would have been an even better idea.

Storage Trays

Storage Loaded

SSD Loaded

The Builds

We’ve analyzed each section of this case and are pleased with many of the features XPG has included. So now we move on to the next phase of this review, completing a few builds. As always, we will start with a mock-up water cooling build and follow up with a functional air-cooled build.

Water Cooled Build

For a custom loop mock-up build, we’ve pulled some components from the old benchmarking cabinet. While these components are a bit dated, dimensionally they are a great representation of what a modern water-cooled build would look like. Starting at the front of the chassis, we see there is 70 mm of clearance for mounting a radiator and its fans. Our 35 mm thick 360 radiator fits perfectly with standard 25 mm thick fans. The Defender Pro can also house up to a 280 mm radiator if you prefer 140 mm wide fans. The top of the case can also be used for radiators. Measuring clearances here is a bit trickier as CPU water block mounting and memory heatsinks can become issues. With about 78 mm of clearance to the ram modules, it’s safe to say you should have no problem mounting a 45 mm thick 280 mm radiator with fans up top. When using 120 mm fans, clearance could increase, but this should be viewed simply as a reference.

Water Cooled Build

Front Radiator Clearance

Top Radiator Clearance

Air Cooled Build

The air-cooled build will also serve as our test bench for determining the thermal capacity for this case. The Cooler Master Hyper 212X used for this test has a height of 158 mm and easily fits in the Defender Pro. In fact, when measuring the actual CPU cooler clearance, we get 180 mm. That’s 10 mm more than what XPG calls out for in their specs. Included in this chassis are the three 120 mm fans. These should be an adequate representation of a standard air-cooled rig.

Air Cooled

Cable Routing

Cable management is fairly straightforward. The addition of grommets at most cable pass-through holes is a nice touch and makes the internal compartment look cleaner as a whole. If your build features an EATX motherboard, you will love the extra-wide layout of the pass-throughs. Measuring the back of the motherboard tray to the right side frame we see 18 mm of clearance. This is on the shorter side of good, but good nonetheless. If we were to have a gripe here, it would be the HDD caddy location centered directly under where the bulk of the cables get routed down. It makes for a little trouble when accessing the HDDs once the build is complete. This is minor and is only mentioned as a recommendation to builders to mount and connect your HDDs before running the rest of the cables in front of them.

Cable Management Clearance

 

Lighting

With a fully functioning rig assembled, we can now review the lighting provided with this case. In addition to the three ARGB fans, a pair of light strips is located at the top and bottom of the front panel. You can clearly see them in the close-up pictures. This is the only way to see them, unfortunately. Once you place the front panel back on the chassis, the lights are blocked from view and really are obscured to the point of useless. However, the RGB from the front and rear fans look superb.

The XPG Prime RGB Controller is the same one used on the other XPG cases that we reviewed. The button on the top of the case cycles between 14 different modes, including four breathing or rainbow modes. The breathing effects are used for RGB fans, while the rainbow modes are for ARGB fans. Naturally, there is an option to turn the RGB off completely. There is even a Music Mode available – pretty fancy for an included lighting controller. Below are the 14 different lighting modes.

XPG ARGB Prime Combo Controller Functions
Press Lighting Mode Button RGB Effect ARGB Effect
Mode 1 Red
Mode 2 Green
Mode 3 Blue
Mode 4 Purple
Mode 5 Yellow
Mode 6 White
Mode 7 Orange
Mode 8 Green
Mode 9 Four different color breathing modes Four different color rainbow modes
Mode 10
Mode 11
Mode 12
Mode 13 Off
Long Press Enter/Exit Music Mode

RGB Strip Front Bottom

ARGB Lighting

Thermal Testing Procedure

Now that we’ve seen what this case offers feature-wise, it’s time to test its thermal capabilities. With the case in its stock orientation and all the fans at full speed, an overclock will be applied to the CPU and GPU. The overclock will be as high as possible, maintaining stability and staying within the components’ thermal limits. To apply a load to the CPU and GPU, Aida64 Extreme and 3D Mark Firestrike will be run together for about a half-hour. This will provide the maximum internal case temperature. Then, remove the side panel and continue for another full run of Firestrike Extreme, while measuring the temperature drop. If the case is getting proper airflow, then the case temperatures will remain within a few degrees of the original result. If there is a significant temperature drop with the side panel removed, then the case is starving for fresh, cool air.

Thermal Test Set-up
XPG Defender Pro Testing System
Case XPG Defender Pro
Motherboard ASUS M5A97
CPU AMD FX 8350 (OC to 4.3 Ghz)
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212x
Memory G.Skill Sniper 2133 Mhz 2×4 GB
GPU Gigabyte RTX 2070 Gaming OC 8 GB
Storage OCZ Agility 3 SSD 60 GB
Power Supply bequiet Pure Power 11 500 W
Operating System Windows 10 64 bit
Stock fans 3x 120 mm XPG Vento RGB (1200 RPM)
Added fans None
Temperature Probe Amprobe TMD-52
Ambient Temp 21°C

Looking at the results, the Defender Pro maintains about a 1°C temperature difference with the panel off. This is another exceptional result from an XPG product. If you are installing even more heat-intensive components than what was run in this test, don’t worry, there is plenty of room to expand with the Defender Pro. In fact, it is possible to double the airflow in this chassis by adding three more fans.

Conclusion

The XPG Defender Pro is marketed as a mid-tower chassis with exceptional airflow and a spacious internal compartment. Overall, it has excellent build quality and implements many modern features, including but not limited to the unique vertical GPU mounting posts,  grommeted pass-through holes, fine-mesh intake filters, high-quality ARGB fans, and a great ARGB controller.

No chassis is without its faults. Therefore, these are the few issues we discovered during this review; the HDD caddy showed a misalignment in some positions, the front ARGB light strips are not really visible through the front panel. Finally, this chassis does not include a USB Type-C port on the IO panel but only has USB 3.0 Type-A ports.

We feel the Defender Pro is a great product and will be well received by the public with all that said. With an MSRP of $99.99 at Amazon, we feel this places it in the middle of the road for a quality mid-tower with all the features that it offers. There are cheaper cases, and there are more expensive cases, so what it boils down to is, do you like the aesthetics? If your answer is yes, we can easily recommend the Defender Pro for your next PC chassis.

[click to find out what this means]
-John Nester (Blaylock)

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