The release of USB 3.0 had the usual slight hiccups of any technology upgrade. Not so much in terms of performance, but in terms of standardization. Sure, the sockets on the I/O panels were staying the same to ensure backwards compatibility for the user, but motherboard headers were a whole different issue. It took a few months for the manufacturers to get together and agree on one standard plug. This left case manufacturers with only a couple of avenues for their front I/O panels while the decision was made.



Some manufacturers went the way of routing cables from the front I/O out of the back of the case to be plugged into the USB 3.0 of the motherboard's rear I/O. While functional, it was not an attractive sight on a high end case, inside or out, and required using two of the rear USB 3.0 connectors. Mind you, two may have been all the motherboard had to begin with. Other manufacturers, such as Fractal Design, simply promised an upgrade kit once the connection became standardized. Some companies even promised them at no cost during this period. Unfortunately, many of these upgrades never became available. I actually have two cases with manufacturer coupons for this upgrade and neither manufacturer ever made the kit.


Fractal Design has come through with a USB 3.0 Upgrade Kit for their flagship Define XL Full Tower Case that is all you would expect. The kit upgrades two of the four USB ports on the front I/O from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0 with a simple two screw installation. The overall clean look of the Define XL remains exactly the same after the upgrade. Cable lengths on the upgrade kit are more than sufficient to reach the USB headers on any motherboard installed in the case. Best of all, Fractal Design is offering this piece to consumers at a low price of only $9.99.