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Cooler Master's HAF XB: Give Your LAN Party Box Breathing Room

Cooler Master's HAF XB: Give Your LAN Party Box Breathing Room
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Cooler Master presented the newest member of its HAF family to us months ago in the Tom's Hardware office. Its HAF XB is a unique hybrid between a desktop case and a bench table, with two levels for different components. Today, we're reviewing it.

Cooler Master visited the Tom's Hardware office in Culver City, CA before introducing its HAF XB. Company representatives proudly showed off the design, which was unlike anything we had seen or used before. I'll fully admit to being dubious that a configuration consuming so much horizontal space would take off. And yet, when I talk to enthusiasts or stop by booths at trade shows, I'm seeing a lot of the HAF XB.

The appeal is that the case lets you put your storage and power supply on one level at the bottom of the case. Your motherboard and other platform components sit on the top level of this double-decker enclosure, enjoying unobstructed airflow from the front to the back. Depending on the version you buy (one has a mesh top and the other is windowed), even more hot air can be pushed out. You can clearly see how this would be a nice setup on a test bench like the ones we use every day. 

Of course, it's easy enough to work inside the HAF XB with a top and side panels that can all be removed. This makes the case's role as an open bench system even more appropriate. And because it has your motherboard lying flat, it'd be pretty ideal for keeping a liquid nitrogen-cooled platform stable and self-contained, too.

But even if your end goal is a regular desktop PC cooled by air or closed-loop liquid, Cooler Master's HAF XB does, in fact, have a lot to offer. As you can see, it's pretty darned spacious and even accommodates a couple of hot-swappable hard drives. Want a pair of compact water coolers? You can do that. Suffice it to say that, despite some initial trepidation, this chassis positively surprised us with its many well thought-out details.

Again, the HAF XB is available in two versions. One has a window on top of the case, while the other one employs a mesh top with the option to install a 200 mm case fan.

Packaging

Cooler Master's HAF XB is spacious inside, but won't break your delivery guy's back with unwieldy packaging. Two recessed handles on the sides make transport easier, too. The box features a thin film finish that conveys quality on the outside, and the back boasts a small illustrated guide to the case's unique features.

Unfortunately, the inside of the box does come packed with Styrofoam to hold the case securely in place. Once you pull the HAF XB out, you'll need to break out your vacuum cleaner.

In the Box

Cooler Master's included accessories shouldn't leave you wanting. The only trouble you'll run into is locating them all, since they're hidden in the lower hard drive bay. Pull the extras out, though, and you'll find a detailed and well-illustrated manual that walks through the installation step-by-step, and in nice print quality. There’s also a familiar assortment of screws that match the case for installing add-ins and accessories, plus a handful of cable ties and eight side rails for the tool-less 2.5” drive installation.

Two drives can be installed in the bays using hot-swap connectors, and a separate drive cage accepts storage devices that don't require this functionality. Cooler Master goes so far as to bundle a Piezo speaker and a small hexagon bit that lets you fasten the motherboard spacers with a normal screwdriver.

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  • 2 Hide
    ohyouknow , August 20, 2013 11:00 PM
    Absolutely love this case. Only thing I don't like is motherboard removal is a pita if you have a water cooler and want to add drives to the bottom compartments. Nice and clean up top.
  • 0 Hide
    panderaamon , August 20, 2013 11:21 PM
    i've been using this case for the last 2.5 months. my only problem is that my H100i cant work in 4 fan mod cause my GTX 570 DIICU is 3mm's longer than i calculated. oh well, 3 fan mod is working nice. also whatever you do get the upper case fan aswell. use it as an exhaust. you'll be suprised what a difference it makes.
  • 0 Hide
    midnightgun , August 21, 2013 12:20 AM
    The only change I would like made to this case is the ability to mount rads to the top where the 200mm face spot is. I am really interested in this case for my build early next year. Will you also be reviewing the Corsair Carbide Air 540?
  • 3 Hide
    thebluephilip , August 21, 2013 3:39 AM
    i really love this case! perfect for almost all around duties regarding pcs. :) 
  • 1 Hide
    Vlad Razvan , August 21, 2013 4:23 AM
    I fell in love with the HAF XB first time I saw it. Have been using one for three months now - lots of space, extremely well ventilated, easy to work with, and a great looker too.

    Initially I wanted to go for an expensive 250$ case so my crossfire configuration could fit and have enough ventilation, but then I saw this thing for 125$, bought it and we have been happy ever since.

    PROTIP - buy the quietest 120 and 140mm fans you can find or get a fan controller. If you keep the stock frontal fans, you're gonna have a noisy time.
  • 1 Hide
    Vlad Razvan , August 21, 2013 4:27 AM
    Quote:
    bitfenix prodigy > HAF XB
    Review the prodigy.

    Good review, though.


    For a lanparty, yes, the prodigy es better because it's smaller. As a high-end PC enclosure / testbench - HAF XB is way better. My sister used to keep a pair of GTX 480s in SLi in her HAF XB - it's one of the few cases with good enough ventilation for such hot hardware.
  • 0 Hide
    cscott_it , August 21, 2013 5:23 AM
    Kai,

    Given your experience with this case (and any previous case testing), do you think the HAF XB would cool well with better fans? You wouldn't happen to have the time and a couple of decent Noctua or Thermaltake (the models with the fluid bearing) to test with, would you?

    Also, any thoughts on the stock fans rated CFM vs. actual amount of heat dispersed and any impressions with them? My experience with Coolermaster's case fans has been unfavorable over the years.
  • 3 Hide
    dgingeri , August 21, 2013 6:06 AM
    I absolutely love my HAF XB. I don't use the internal 2.5" drive bays, though. I used a Vantec 5.25" to 4X2.5" hot swap drive bay adapter, for a total of 6 hotswap drive bays. I have 4 SSDs installed, with no mechanical storage. I use a HAF 932 for my storage server, keeping my personal data stored elsewhere so it can be independently virus scanned and backed up. This way I can take my main system places without risking my personal data. I mess around with the insides of my main system enough that this saves me a ton of frustration. It's just awesome.

    For the guy who suggested the Bitfenix Prodigy as an alternative to this: what are you, crazy? That thing is a mini-ITX case. It could never pull the duty of this case. It's worthless to any of my needs. Go play with your toys and leave the big boys to talk here.
  • 0 Hide
    rolli59 , August 21, 2013 6:23 AM
    Looking good, one of my favorite cases.
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , August 21, 2013 7:26 AM
    Good review. A nice comparison would be to pit this versus the Corsair Carbide Air 540. I find Corsair cases to be a tad better in build quality, but the design differences would be interesting to look at.
  • 0 Hide
    demonhorde665 , August 21, 2013 7:39 AM
    good article , I bought this case 3 months ago I didn't sue a after market cpu cooler on my FX 8350 though. my load temps on prime 95 are right at 60 with a 100% load, this is in alge part thanks to the awesome 200 mm top fan I got with my case . I actually replaced the front fans with 2 120 mm red LED fans that use hydrolic bearings , coolermaster's default fans were sleeve bearings and they just don't have the longiviety or noise reduction that hydrolyic bearings have. I wound up using one of the default fans as a back fan , and when it dies I'll pop the second one in. there are a few key things you leave out in this review though.
    1. the case only take Cooler master 200mm fans I have heard of some people using work around to fit other brands in, but since there is no "standard" for 200 mm fan's screw hole spacings, its best to get a cooler master brand for the best fit. they do have a really good red led 200 mm @ 700 rpm (non adjustable) also sadly its a sleeve bearing ...
    2. when you do install the top fan you lose some range on how high of a cooler you can use. that being 30cm normally the case does fit 180 , but with a top fan in you can only fit a tower cooler that is 150 in height. this is why I haven't gotten an after market cooler for this cpu yet , its hard to find a tower cooler below this size. I however do have my eye on a Gemini low profile (the not so low model) cooler that is leagues above AMD's stock cooler and even offers clearance for tall ram dims., but I avhent had the bread to buy it after blowing my money on the rig itself.
    3. last but not leat maybe CM fixed this by now , but at the time I bought this case , the hot swap board had been notorious for killing some Hard drives. On the flip side it is easy to remove the hot swap board all together and just use a sata cable to hook up your hard drives if you fear this problem rearing its ugly head at you which is what I did.
  • 0 Hide
    dgingeri , August 21, 2013 8:32 AM
    To demonhorde665: I have a Bitfenix 200mm fan in my HAF XB. It fits and works fine.
  • 0 Hide
    paladiin , August 21, 2013 11:45 AM
    I bought one of these and changed out all the fans. 2 fractal design R2 120mm for the front, 1 120mm Cougar for the rear and my Hyper 212 evo has 2 prolimatech 140mm in push pull. I can't hear this case even when it is running at 100% during prime 95. Hottest I have gotten is 40 on the cpu.
    Cooler Master HAF XM
    Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 750w
    Intel 4670k
    MSI Z87-G45 MB
    Hyper 212 Evo Gigabyte gtx760 Windforce 3x Rev.2
    Corsair Neutron 240gb SSD
    2 3tb Hitachi Deskstars in Raid 0
  • 0 Hide
    Marcus52 , August 21, 2013 11:45 AM
    My only problem with this case is the fact that it won't hold E-ATX. I realize I'm bucking the trend here and certainly don't blame Cooler Master at all for making this case the way it is, but for me, the more room, the better.

    I also have an unusual amount of desktop space, and don't do the LAN thing, except amongst my computers here at home. Even though the case isn't quite designed for my usage model, I have to say - well done CM!
  • 0 Hide
    knowom , August 21, 2013 12:44 PM
    This is my favorite looking case designed to date. I haven't tried it first hand or anything, but I can just tell by looking at it that it's designed nicely in terms of the ventilation. It's also easily accessible as well which is great. Bottom mounted PSU is always good. I love the fact that the motherboard lays flat as well that's a big plus.

    If you looking for a case for pure passive cooling and natural convection this is probably the most well designed case on the market for it yet even though it was designed for a different intent in mind, but you could easily cool a Intel Core i3-2100T in one of these no problem silently with no fans using a good CPU tower cooler, a sdd, and a fanless psu and have a solid dead silent digital audio workstation system.
  • 0 Hide
    hyperparageom , August 21, 2013 3:05 PM
    To Marcus52
    Don't give up on your e-atx dream! I've had this case since Christmas 2012 and installed an Asus Maximus V Formula e-atx mobo ( another Christmas gift from my better half) in the little beast with room to spare on the motherboard tray. This was one reason I asked for the XB. Btw it is strongly built. I couldn't resist trying what another pro reviewer did-popping off the top panel and sitting on it. Yep, it hold my 185 lbs without a complaint. And, pushing the envelope, I used the frame rails for a few pushups! No sweat for the case. The XB is located on a cabinet right by my desk about two inches below the desktop. Now it doubles as an armrest! Kudos to CM again( wife has a StormTrooper)!
  • 1 Hide
    RedJaron , August 21, 2013 3:32 PM
    The flat mboard mounting also means the CPU cooler and GPU cards aren't subjected to torque when being jostled up and down when carrying. Another LAN friendly aspect.
  • 0 Hide
    damric , August 21, 2013 4:30 PM
    Got my XB last week. You got to get your hands in it to truly appreciate it.
  • 0 Hide
    Maygentria , August 21, 2013 4:54 PM
    Looks like good case, I'm sort of regretting my 600T now!
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