Four Full Tower Cases From $150 To $600

Cooler Master HAF 932--Build And Installation

Build, Continued

An aggressive front fascia

The chassis’ interior is a pleasure to work in, as most of its steel edges are rolled to prevent cuts and scrapes. There’s even a hole cut in the non-removable motherboard tray. If you’re installing a Core i7 920 and using a heatsink like Thermalright’s Ultra 120 Extreme, simply pop off the right side panel and work under the CPU socket without having to pull the motherboard out. The problem with this, unfortunately, is that motherboard vendors aren’t universal in their respective layouts, so the feature won’t be useable on some platforms, like the Asus Rampage II Extreme featured in our testing.

Cooler Master’s full tower design means that there is plenty of room for hard disks and optical drives. The chassis takes up to five 3.5” hard drives in one cage and up to six 5.25” externally-accessible drives in a separate cage above that. A bundled adapter turns one 5.25” bay into a 3.5” slot for a floppy drive or card reader. Hard drives are installed toollessly, which is nice. But the power and I/O ports face to the right side of the case, meaning you’ll need to snake SATA and power cables through the motherboard tray in order to connect them.

Ready for liquid cooling

Installation

The HAF 932 is able to take a lot of hardware. It’s one of the few towers that’ll accept an eATX motherboard. Plus, with five hard drive and six 5.25” drive bays, there’s copious room for expansion. And yet, if you’re installing a high-end configuration, you’ll likely feel cramped inside the case.

With our PC Power and Cooling power supply installed, there isn’t enough room at the bottom of the case to take a third double-wide graphics card. You’d need an EVGA X58 motherboard in order to fit a 3-way SLI setup here. Also, given the way that the auxiliary power connectors on the Radeon HD 4870s face, accessing front panel connectors, storage ports, and FireWire/USB headers at the bottom right-hand of your motherboard might be difficult. Make all of your motherboard connections before dropping in discrete cards.

Not the prettiest interior...

Here’s the really tricky thing about the HAF 932, though. Configured as it is from the factory, the case is all set up for a water cooling setup. There’s a fill port up top, grommetted holes in the back of the chassis for running hose, and room for a radiator if you yank the top 230 mm fan—don’t worry, you aren’t likely to miss the airflow. Unbolt that plate up top and relocate your power supply, though, and the case’s floor suddenly get a lot roomier. In fact, a pair of vents at its bottom are already cut out for 120 mm intake fans.

With its vents, window, and tasteful LED lighting, the HAF 932 is a chassis you’ll want to peek into. Plenty of nooks and crannies designed to help aid cable management make the case easy to organize for just that reason. Just bear in mind that gobs of airflow are enabled by large vents on almost every surface. If you have noisy hardware inside the HAF 932, large, low-speed fans aren’t going to help suppress the din.

Drives install easilySimple, yet effective

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  • Proximon
    Thank you Chris, another very useful article. Not enough case comparisons around, as I'm sure you realized.
    I'll be sure to add the HAF to my recommendation list. I hadn't before because I thought all the extra holes would hinder cooling more than help. The hole in the MB tray sounds especially useful.
    I would have liked to see on of the Cosmos cases included, although I suspect they are simply quieter but hotter.
    6
  • malveaux
    Nice article.

    Though, I'm curious. 40db+ isn't whisper quiet. That's freak'n loud. What's up with calling it whisper quiet?
    5
  • Pei-chen
    The three cheaper cases are powerhouses but too big and overkill for most people including gamers. I think the Antec's Three Hundred ($60 a few weeks ago on Newegg) suits the need for most people. 750w PSU are usually enough for SLI/Crossfire so 1000w+ aren't needed.
    -1
  • malveaux
    I'm curious when they will start releaseing more cases that have more depth, so that they have more room for today's much larger videocard solutions.
    0
  • kubes
    Ya I agree that case designers should consider making them have more depth. With this in mind though i'm sure vidoe card manufactors will only make their card even longer however.
    2
  • Anonymous
    Lian Li has plenty of depth, and otherwise just huge (PC-A70).
    0
  • antiacid
    Good article. Now it gives a procedure and template to test other cases as well. It'd be great to have a review of cases which could be "best of" a certain category (cooling, noise, ease of use, weight, etc). It would be even nicer if the results were put in bullet point form and were setup in a table like the ones used in hdd/video card tables. That would make it a lot easier to compare everything.
    1
  • avatar_raq
    I do believe that all the cases available in the market these days are poorly designed especially when it comes to air flow. You may notice that front fans, rear fans, buttom, side and top panel fans -when combined- cause turbulence in air flow that reduces the overall air flow. That's why I buy a cheap $25 case and modded myself!!!
    I have so many innovations regarding case designs that I hope someone buys them and excutes them in reality!!
    -1
  • avatar_raq
    Here is one of my ideas...
    To put it plainly: air needs to be moved in one direction, preferably from down-upwards, since hot air tends to go upward by nature and the hottest part of any system (that's the GFX cards) is located at the lower part..Hence a PSU mounted at the upper part of the case (with its 120-140mm fan), with another 120mm top-panel exhaust fan and two 120mm buttom intake fans will be by far more efficient than all the available cases. To achieve this efficincy I close any other holes (even the ones the manufacturer meant for ventilation) so the air enters the case only from the buttom fans where I put dust filters to minimize dust inside my case. Furthermore I use a case with long "legs" to minimize inhalation of the dust at my desk's surface.
    To minimize noise: I use
    1.low RPM silent fans.
    2.rubber washers between the fans and the case to minimize vibration noise.
    3.cover all the interior surfaces with a layer of an insulator, that can be as simple as sponge!!!
    4.even design external air ducts that divert the exhausted air (which carries the interior noise) to the back.
    -1
  • avatar_raq
    Fortunately many aftermarket CPU and GPU coolers helped me. They can be installed in a way that the fan moves the air upwards. There is evidence that the setup I suggested above reduces -though marginally- the power consumed by the CPU and GPU fans to reach thier designated rpm and increases the lifetime of these fans, since instead of meeting resistance, the one directional air flow helps them.
    -1
  • malveaux
    Heya,

    I'm curious about putting sinulation in a case. I'd love to see measurments of noise levels in a case with just random sponges in the case versus not.Heya,

    I'm curious about putting insulation in a case. I'd love to see measurments of noise levels in a case with just random sponges in the case versus not, and other solutions. Personally, I don't like lights and other stuff in the case, I don't look at my case, I look at my display. Reducing the case's obvious footprint and pressence is a nice thing. Less noise would be wonderful (especially since I use mine as a HTPC too). I've always been a fan of the blow hole (top fan to draw hot air out). Sealing up a case to reduce all holes to just air flow from bottom to top, with insulation of some kind to reduce noise would be a great project to try.

    Again, I'd love to see some noise and temp measurements! To the forum? Got some ways to measure it?

    Cheers,
    -1
  • avatar_raq
    Believe it or not the setup I mentioned keeps my E6750 (overclocked from 2.66ghz 1.23v to 3.8ghz 1.44v) under 55 c under full load (hours of dual prime 95) in a very hot room that lacks a cooling system(temps:40 to 50 c !!). (Don't be smart with me, we lack electrical power in my country and private small-groups generators are the only reason I can be online!!)

    I don't have the means to measure the noise level but I can tell you -though subjectively- it is very quiet when using all the mentioned steps. In the end I wish someone with enough resources (like the guys at Tom's) tests my project and give the whole world accurate objective measures and compare them to the available cases..Even the high end ones.
    -2
  • avatar_raq
    In my last post I forgot to add that I use vertically-oriented Zalman CNPS 9500 LED as a CPU cooler.
    -2
  • kamkal
    600$ for a case? hahahahaha

    almost spit out my drink when i saw the price tag
    1
  • kelfen
    They should make an article on water cooling for the i7!
    -1
  • cangelini
    Getting there. Gotta remember that i7 is still new, so there aren't a ton of options available yet.
    -1
  • Shadow703793
    Good write up. But should have increased the # of cases and droped the range to a max of $350-400.
    2
  • cangelini
    Shadow703793Good write up. But should have increased the # of cases and droped the range to a max of $350-400.


    Shadow,
    Kept the number lower so I could spend more time with the cases involved--takes a deceptively long time to build each system up, test it, etc. The ABS case is actually the one that set the whole roundup off--it was a struggle finding enclosures that could compete. I think we'd all love to have that thing, but the price is just prohibitive. Even still, very nice to look at.
    -1
  • ccintron
    Wow, those are four hideously UGLY cases... I'll stick with the Cooler Master Cosmos series.
    1
  • Anonymous
    Okay I'll bite:

    1.low RPM silent fans.
    2.rubber washers between the fans and the case to minimize vibration noise.

    Okay, these 2 ideas are pretty well established. Although personally i have doubts about #2 really making a difference.

    3.cover all the interior surfaces with a layer of an insulator, that can be as simple as sponge!!!

    Right, but it can also be as simple as extreme fire and inhalation hazard. Make sure what you are using doesn't burn easily.

    4.even design external air ducts that divert the exhausted air (which carries the interior noise) to the back.

    This may seem like a good idea on the surface, but by restricting the air flow (you build additional pressure in the outlet) you might actually be increasing fan noise and heat buildup.

    High legs are a good idea to prevent dust (i have this problem as well) but can be dangerous for someone who has the case on a carpet or other uneven surface, since it increases the chances of the case tipping over.
    -1