A Taste Of What's To Come
Meet five enclosures able to take up to eight expansion cards. Who needs that much space? How about anyone with an ATX motherboard featuring a PCIe x16 slot in the seventh-slot position and three or more dual-slot graphics cards? These cases also incorporate design elements sure to attract more mainstream gamers, too.
Today we introduce the design elements of all five cases. We'll follow-up next week with a system installation and performance-oriented write-up.
Cooler Master HAF X
Cooler Master’s latest mainstream gamer creation mixes the height of a full tower with the drive capacity of a mid-tower, dedicating the leftover space to water cooling enthusiasts. An I/O panel covers the front of that extra space.
Something Old, Something New
Many case manufacturers have ditched FireWire ports as portable devices that use them get rarer. Buyers who still need a quick place to plug in their ancient digital cameras will be pleased to know that Cooler Master hasn’t forgotten them. But builders who hate dysfunctional ports will be required to find a motherboard that still has a corresponding controller. Cooler Master also covers its bases, as USB 3.0 chases eSATA to the rear panel of most systems.
Unlike the other cases in today’s overview, the HAF X has nine expansion slots and three external cooler line grommets. The third grommet would probably be most useful for passing-through USB 3.0 cables, which is required by motherboards that have no internal USB 3.0 interface. Similarly, the ninth slot hole is probably most useful for installing breakout plates.
While most modern cases have a reasonable amount of room to stuff cables behind their motherboard trays, Cooler Master knows that some of those cables must go beyond the edge of that tray. Unlike several competing designs, the HAF X motherboard tray’s rolled edge faces forward to keep it from blocking the cable pathway.
USB 3.0 Done Right!
As the motivating voice behind the standardization of a USB 3.0 front-panel connector, this editor was thrilled to find that Cooler Master arranged its adapter in the right direction. The front-panel lead plugs directly into an internal header, and boards that don’t have that connector can still get rear-panel pass-through.
Baby Got Backplane
The HAF X fills two of its 5.25” bays with removable 3.5” drive trays. Although these trays don't have handles on them to simplify drive removal, a backplane makes the task of plugging them in much easier.
SSDs Made Easy
The front-facing backplane trays support both 3.5” and 2.5” drives, and those who need to add a third SSD will find an adapter in one of the internal drive brackets. Screwless mounting is limited to 3.5” drives on the internal brackets.
Air Cooling For Some
A 230 mm front fan blows through the five-bay internal cage into a power supply cover and graphics card duct. The power supply cover works with most units to hide cables, but the duct requires graphics cards to be spaced exactly two slots apart. Those lucky enough to have a configuration that works with this duct will also find it has a 120 mm fan holder that can help increase air pressure at the card’s intake.
Liquid Cooling for Others
A strip of metal across the optional second top fan mount provides a place to secure dual 120 mm-fan radiators. Note that only a radiator of this length can use those holes, as there is no additional support between this 240 mm spacing. Two 120 mm fans can be secured to an installed radiator, and the case provides 2.3” between the motherboard and interior panel to support extra-thick cooling configurations.
In Win Dragon Rider
Value-driven case builder In Win has been trying to win over gamers with its Style collection for a few years. Combining the quality of its office-oriented legacy cases with the flair of its low-cost enthusiast models, the Dragon Rider is the pinnacle of that effort.